1.0 General


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Porsche Boxster (986) FAQ

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1.1 The Prototype
1.2 References
1.3 Terms and Acronyms
1.4 Valmet Built Boxsters
1.5 The Boxster Name
1.6 Porsche Factory Tours
1.7 Awards and Commendations
1.8 Currency and Language Conversion
1.9 Porsche Club of America (PCA)
1.10 Periodicals
1.11 Porsche Press Site
1.12 Decoding the VIN

1.1 The Prototype

The prototype of the Porsche 986 Boxster was first shown at the 1993 Detroit Auto Show. It was an instant hit. People immediately started putting money down at their Porsche dealers to acquire the car. It was released in Europe in late 1996, and for the first time in the U.S. at the L.A. Auto Show on January 4th, 1997. Images of the prototype can be found at http://grr.xoc.net/boxster/articles/prototype.asp webout.gif (902 bytes).

1.2 References

For a book that gives the detailed history of the development of the Boxster, see Porsche Boxster, ISBN 3-7688-0966-8. This is a great book to have sitting around while your Boxster is on order. It can be ordered from http://www.amazon.com/ webout.gif (902 bytes). Other Porsche books that may be of interest (some are out of print, though):

Porsche, Excellence was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen
Porsche 356 and RS Spyders by Gordon Maltby
Das Grosse Porsche Book author unknown (English version available)
The 911 Story by Paul FrŠere
We at Porsche (autobiography of Dr. Ing. h.c. Ferry Porsche)
Porsche - The Fine Art Of the Sports Car by Lucinda Lewis
The Porsche Book by Lothar Boschen and Jurgen Barth
Ferry Porsche: Cars Are My Life by Ferry Porsche
Porsche 911 - The Evolution by Klauspeter Becker

1.3 Terms and Acronyms

A few terms and acronyms that you might want to be familiar with:

911
The model number of the high end performance model car from Porsche. There are various other model numbers that designates variations of the 911.
986
The model number of the Boxster.
993
The model number of the last air-cooled 911.
996
The model number of the first water-cooled 911. This model shares 30% of its components with the Boxster, including almost all parts from the doors forward.
Double-clutch
A way of shifting that does not need the synchomesh feature of the clutch. It involves:
  1. Pushing down the clutch pedal
  2. Shifting the clutch into neutral
  3. Releasing the clutch pedal
  4. Pressing down on the gas pedal until the engine revs match the new gear you are about to enter
  5. Pressing down the clutch pedal
  6. Shifting the car into the new gear
  7. Releasing the clutch pedal
PAG
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, the Porsche parent company.
PCA
Porsche Club of America, an organization for Porsche owners.
PCNA
Porsche Cars North America, Inc., Porsche's affiliate covering the North American continent.
Porsche
Pronounced POR-sche.
RDS
Radio Data System, a system where the radio station call letters and other information, such as traffic info, is displayed on the radio.
Stuttgart
The nearest big city to the Porsche manufacturing plant in Germany.
Tequipment
Porsche supplied options and accessories that can be bought after you receive your car.
Uusikaupunki
Pronounced oo-see-COW-poon-key. The city in Finland where Valmet builds Boxsters.
Valmet
A company in Finland that PAG has contracted with to manufacture Boxsters.
VIN
Vehicle Identification Number, the number that uniquely identifies a vehicle.
Zuffenhausen
The Porsche manufacturing plant in Germany.

1.4 Valmet Built Boxsters

For the 1998 model year, Porsche realized that they could sell more Boxsters if they could build more Boxsters. Since the plant in Zuffenhausen was already at capacity, they contracted with a company in Finland named Valmet to manufacture vehicles in Uusikaupunki, Finland. All SAAB 900 convertibles, both old and new body styles, have been built by Valmet. Many that have SAAB convertibles say that they seem to have had fewer problems than those who bought SAAB sedans built in Sweden.

It is impossible to specify the build location of a car. Even ordering Tourist Delivery doesn't force a Stuttgart build. Apparently some cars are shipped from Finland to Stuttgart for Tourist Delivery.

The initial plan for Valmet production of the Boxster was to produce the cars in Finland for about two years, until the demand lessened and Zuffenhausen could handle all production. At this point, with the Boxster's continuing popularity and the anticipated high demand for the 996, it is likely that the Valmet plant will remain busy for the foreseeable future. Zuffenhausen can assemble 30,000 cars per year, so the only way the Boxster would be moved entirely to Finland is if Porsche could sell the better part of that many 996s. That isn't likely in the short term. On rumors of the coming 996, demand for the last 993s rose sharply last year, but that demand still wasn't enough to take more than half of Zuffenhausen's production capability. Most cars destined for North America are built in Finland.

When your VIN is assigned to the car during the production cycle, you can tell if the car is a Uusikaupunki or Stuttgart build by looking at the 11th character. If it is a U, it is built in Uusikaupunki, if it an S, it is built in Stuttgart.

The label plate mounted on the driver's side door jamb on the car will say where it is built. This plate.jpg (24749 bytes) is an example of a Stuttgart build plate (with a few digits of VIN smudged out, click to enlarge). On a Valmet car, the words "Made In Germany" will be replace with "Made in Finland", and the 11th character of the VIN will be a U.

The little box on the paper vehicle equipment list stuck to the window of the car of a Valmet assembled Boxster reads as follows:

Parts Content Information:
For Vehicles in this car line: U.S./Canada parts Content:
Major Source of Foreign Parts Content: Germany: 90%
For this Vehicle: Final Assembly Point:
Uusikaupunki, Finland
Country of Origin:
Engine Parts: Germany Transmission: Germany
Note: Parts content does not include final assembly, distribution, or other non-parts costs.

The quality of the Valmet Boxsters have turned out to be at least as good as the Stuttgart cars, maybe better.

As one Porsche fan noted:

A Porsche not built in Stuttgart or even in Germany--now that's the genuine article. Nothing could be more Porsche than that. All during its history Porsche has farmed out production to other makers. Entire models have been built this way, including some of the rarest and most desirable Porsches of all. The very first Porsche sports cars--the original 50 or so 356's--weren't even made in Germany but rather in Austria, and about half of those were turned over to other manufacturers such as the Czech economy car maker Tatra. Owning one of these cars today would make you a wealthy person.

This "farming out" process continued throughout the 356's production run and held true for 911's as well, with production being handled by companies such as Beutler in Switzerland, Karmann and others. Just try to find a 1957 Beutler 4-seater 356 or a 1961-62 Karmann Hardtop model today. Talk about rare and desirable. Let's also not forget that there are entire Porsche models that were never made in Stuttgart. Every single 914-4 was completely built by Karmann at its factory in Osnabruck, for example. Karmann also built all 914-6's except for the drivetrain and suspension. Some of these cars are extremely desirable to hardcore Porschephiles. A 1972 914-6 is so rare it's impossible to accurately set a price for the car, and we doubt there's a Porsche fan alive who wouldn't love to have one of the few 914-8's ever made.

1.5 The Boxster Name

The name "Boxster" comes from a combination of the words "boxer" and "roadster". The engine in the Boxster is a flat-six boxer engine.

The terms Spyder and Roadster have rather nebulous definitions. The Boxster takes its styling cues from the Porsche 550 Spyder, so maybe a good question is "What is a Spyder?" The name "Spyder" was given to the Porsche 550 by Max Hoffman, an early importer of Porsches to the U.S. Hoffman felt that it would improve sales in America if the car had a name instead of just a number. The book Porsche 356 and RS Spyders by Gordon Maltby states (p. 126):

One could argue that the name Spyder is hardly descriptive of a fast, hot blooded sports car, but the precedents existed both in the United States and in then-current Italian cars, where the name implied a light, quick, open roadster.

So if a Spyder is a light, quick, open roadster, how light and quick does said roadster have to be before it can be called a Spyder? And if precedents existed for the name, how far back does the term go and what were the first cars to use it? Actually, the term "spider" derives from horse-drawn carriages, as in other 18th and 19th century terms such as brougham, coupe de ville, landau and phaeton. A spider phaeton was a lighter version of a phaeton, having narrower, spindly wheels and two-seat accommodation. So, it would seem that this was subsequently applied to cars (certainly phaeton before spider). There are lots of Spyders, though, including the Fiat 850, Ferrari, Porsche, and Corvair. There was also a Triumph TR7 Spider version. There doesn't seem to be any rules about the use of this term, other than that the car should have a convertible top and be somewhat sporty. Further complicating the issue: Ferrari's have called what we would call a Targa, a Spyder since at least the Dino 246 GTS days. That is, it has a removable roof with stay-in-place B-pillars/roll bars, and usually fixed back glass. The Porsche Targa is a gigantic sliding moonroof (a moonroof is see-through; a sunroof is solid).

1.6 Porsche Factory Tours

If you plan to be in Germany, you should take a tour of the Porsche Zuffenhausen assembly plant. Tours start promptly at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Although they theoretically take walk-ins, when a guide is full (10 people) they will turn people away. How many English speaking guides that are available on a given day is variable. For safety reasons, you will not be allowed on a German speaking tour unless you speak German. To reserve a spot on a tour from the U.S., call the PCNA number, 1-800-PORSCHE. Ask for "factory tours," and they will give you a number and contact. If you can't arrange reservations but just happen to be in the area, check at the front counter of the Porsche museum no later than 9:30 a.m. Be warned, it seems that Germany is always on "Holiday," especially in spring and summer, so the factory may be closed.

The parking around the factory is virtually nonexistent, so either get there before the workers or take a taxi.

If you stay at the Novotel in Stuttgart, the factory is a pleasant 10-15 minute walk. On the way you will see the Porsche test drivers come and go testing the cars. On the walk, when you get to the first fenced in area of the factory on your left, you will see the service area where cars are spun up on a dyno. If the shutters are open you can look in and see this. It is easier to see after dark.

1.7 Awards and Commendations

The Boxster has received these awards and commendations:

Organization Date Award
Car & Driver January 1998 Issue One of the "10 Best Cars" of 1997
Automobile Magazine January 1998 Issue Automobile of the Year
Newsweek December 8, 1997 One of the "Best New Products" of 1997
Business Week January 12, 1998 One of the "Best New Products" of 1997
American Marketing Association March 19, 1998 Silver Edison Award for Best New Product of 1997
Automobile Journalists Association of Canada   1997 Car of the Year
Automobile Journalists Association of Canada   Best Design of 1997
Motor Magazine January 14, 1998 1997 Performance Car of the Year
Autocar   The "Best Roadster in the World"
Consumer Reports August 1998 Everything a sports car should be, and then some.
Philadelphia Inquirer August 1998 Best Sports Car of the Decade
MotorWeek   1997 Driver's Choice Award for Best Sports Car

Are there others?

1.8 Currency and Language Conversion

Occasionally, it is useful to convert amounts in one currency into the equivalent amount in another. (Note that all prices throughout the FAQ are in U.S. dollars.) There are a number of web sites that provide this service. The Universal Currency Converterwebout.gif (902 bytes) at http://www.xe.net/currency has an easy to use interface.

It also may be useful to translate one language into another. In our case, this is frequently German into English. This site, http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/translate webout.gif (902 bytes), does a good automatic translation from one language to another.

1.9 Porsche Club of America (PCA)

Membership

Porsche owners (you must own a Porsche to join) who are 18 years of age or older are invited to become members of the Porsche Club of America. At the time of joining, the member of record is permitted to name either a member of his or her family to become a FAMILY MEMBER or other interested person to become an AFFILIATE MEMBER, at no additional cost. The family or affiliate member must also be 18 year of age or older.

Annual membership dues are $36 payable in US funds by check, money order, VISA or MasterCard which includes $6 for the monthly Porsche Panorama, the world's premiere publication dedicated to Porsches. A portion of annual dues is returned to your assigned local region for the support of its activities.

Additional Benefits of Membership

  • Largest independent single marque club in the world! (Over 37,000 members.)
  • Local Regions with local newsletters and events.
  • Vast technical publications--Up-Fixin der Porsche (Volumes 1-10--reprints of all technical articles ever appearing in Panorama, organized by year of original publication, fully indexed).
  • Tech Committee available to answer your questions. Specialists for all models plus exteriors/interiors and historic race cars.
  • Valuation committee to help you establish the value of your Porsche for insurance purposes.
  • Access to specialized insurance for Porsches that are second autos/pleasure only/limited use. Translates to money saved on premiums (Leland-West Insurance--must be a PCA member).
  • PCA Club Racing Program--nationwide modeled on vintage racing rules.
  • Annual national convention (Porsche Parade) gathers in different location each year. Over 600 Porsches and 1500 folks gather for a week of nothing but Porscheing.
    • July 19 - 26, 1998 in Steamboat Springs CO
    • August 7 - 14, 1999 in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Contact Information

PCA Executive Office
PO Box 30100
Alexandria, VA 22310-8100
(703) 922-9300 (9:00 AM - 4:30 PM EST/EDT)

or enroll via the Internet at http://www.pca.org webout.gif (933 bytes)

1.10 Periodicals

Porsche Panorama

PCA's award-winning monthly magazine covers everything Porsche, including road tests, new model news, classic Porsche salons, historical and restoration articles, free classified ads, and extensive technical information to help you learn about, maintain, and enjoy your Porsche. It is available only to members of the Porsche Club of America and is included in the cost of membership.

Christophorus Magazine

The official publication of Porsche AG, this excellent magazine has a lot of very good information related to Porsche automobiles. You can obtain a subscription by contacting:

Porsche Cars of North America
1-800-PORSCHE

or

Christophorus-Abonnement Service
Postfach, D-90327 Nurnberg
Telephone: (49) 911-5325 332
FAX: (49) 911-5325 197

The cost is $28.00 per year. Subscriptions run from January to December and renew automatically. Because of the difficulty of corresponding with the PAG office in Germany, it is suggested that you fax a message and request for subscription to the fax number above. Once the bill is received you can fax the credit card information to the same office. As an alternative you can go through PCNA in the U.S.

It seems at the present time that all new Boxster owners are getting a one year subscription to Christophorus.

Excellence Magazine

A magazine dedicated to Porsches exclusively. It was originally called Porsche Magazine when it was first published (evidently without permission from PAG). The name was changed after one or two issues to Excellence. To subscribe contact:

Excellence
P.O. Box 1529
Ross, CA 94957
U.S. Rates: $20.00 for 1 year (8 issues) , $35.00 for 2 years, $49.00 for 3 years
Canadian Rates: $27.00 for 1 year, $49.00 for 2 years and $69.00 for 3 years (payment in U.S. dollars)

Back issues are available.

1.11 Porsche Press Site

Reporters looking for the latest word from Porsche Cars North America can retrieve information from an exclusive, press-only web site. This site features current and historical press releases, press kit materials including specifications and production-quality photography, executive biographies, and motorsports information. Site visitors are required to register at http://www.press.porsche.com webout.gif (933 bytes), which adds the user to an e-mail list announcing new information and allows access to the site. They are pretty persnickety about who they let in. We won't tell you how to get in, but by messing around with the web, you can find a way around their security.

1.12 Decoding the VIN

Below is an explanation of the VIN System and what the various codes mean. The current 17 digit VIN numbering system was established in 1981. Prior to that there was two other numbering systems, one from 1964 to July of 1980 and an early serial number system from 1949 to 1964. Due to federal regulations, 1981 and newer vehicles are required to use a 17-digit VIN system. With this system, it is now possible to determine not only the year, model and serial number, but also the country of manufacture, body style, engine type, restraint system, and manufacturing plant.

Here's what all those numbers in your VIN mean, and an example using the sample VIN WPOCA2989VS622882

Digit Meaning Values Example
1-3 Manufacturer make and country built for. WPO=Porsche and U.S. WPO
4 Series C C
5 Engine Type A=2.5 Liter engine A
6 Restraint System 2=Dual Airbags 2
7-8 Model 98=Boxster 98
9 Check Digit Calculated 9
10 Model Year V=1997, W=1998, X=1999, Y=2000 V
11 Manufacturing Plant S=Stuttgart, U=Uusikaupunki S
12 Model 6=Boxster 6
13-17 Sequential Production Number   22882

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