Steve Ross is the president of the Northeast chapter of the Porsche Club of America. The fact that the Porsche club prez owns a Boxster should tell you something about Porsche's once-controversial convertible. We sort of take the Boxster for granted now that it's been around for more than a dozen years, but it's an excellent used car. You don't buy a used Boxster to show off. You buy it because it's great to drive.
Ross's car is a base Boxster, not an S. "I drove them both, and honestly, I couldn't really tell the difference," Ross says. In 2004, the Boxster made 225 hp; the S put out 258. And I think I agree with Ross. Throttling his car down an on-ramp and running up through the gears, it feels plenty strong. It makes the signature flat-six honking howl. The steering is dead-on precise, and I know from prior Boxster experience that this car would be perfectly happy-neutral and naturally composed -- if it were on a track.
And track it Ross does. This is the rare modern convertible designed to pass muster at a road course. "The roll hoops pass the broomstick test," Ross says, referring to the practice of running a broomstick from the windshield to the roll bar to make sure the driver's helmet doesn't become a prop rod for an overturned car. Ross's Boxster even has a removable trailer hitch, which he uses to tow his track tires. How cool is that?
Automobile Magazine's West Coast editor, Jason Cammisa, recently bought a used Boxster, and after driving this car, I'm tempted to run home and start trolling the classifieds. I need a reason not to. "I've heard that used Boxsters can be trouble, as far as reliability," I say. "Well, I haven't had any problems with mine," he replies. Damn.
With the Boxster, Porsche finally figured out how to break the 911 habit while retaining the main ingredient that loyalists consider mandatory -- a horizontally opposed engine somewhere behind your seat. The Boxster was a revelation: not a 911 but still a Porsche.