Fiat 124 Spider and Porsche Boxster
Fiat recently announced the pricing of their much anticipated 124 Spider. The roadster is based off of a Mazda MX-5 platform, so handling should be very good. Styling is reminiscent of the classic Fiat 124 Spider.
The base model Spider starts at $24,995. For a new roadster that is a good deal, but how does it compare to what can be had on the used market? What if you purchase a much less expensive used Porsche Boxster (986)?
A used 1997-1999 Porsche Boxster will run you about $8,000 for a well maintained car in very good condition. You can even get a good higher mileage example for about $5,000. If you have about $10,000 you can get a fairly low mileage car with something around 50,000 miles on it in good condition. You can even buy a newer Boxster or even a more powerful S model for under $25,000 but in many ways the earlier car is a better comparison for the 124.
For that price you get a mid-engined roadster with 201 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque from a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated flat-six. The official 0-60 mph time as quoted by Porsche is 6.7 seconds, but we all know that Porsche is very conservative with their 0-60 mph times. As such magazines of the late 90’s routinely managed times around 6 seconds flat. The early Boxster was capable of a top speed of 149 mph and in the corners 0.95g of latter acceleration is possible.
The new Fiat 124 Spider uses a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine which offers up to 165 horsepower (but the base model only offers 160 horsepower) which is down considerably from the Boxster. All models offer 3 more lb-ft of torque than the 986 at 184. 0-60 mph is reported to come in 6.3 seconds and the top speed is 130 mph.
Both vehicles offer open-aired driving and sporty styling. Overall performance is pretty close between the two, although the Fiat may offer more engine tuning options thanks to the turbocharger. The Boxster’s main tuning would come in the way of brakes and suspension (or an engine transplant). The Boxster offers a little better weight distribution at 49 front / 51 rear versus 54 front / 46 rear in the 124 Spider, which should help it in the corners.
The Fiat offers modern convinces, such as an optional backup camera. Porsche does offer some modern upgrades, such as an infotainment system installed through a Porsche dealership. There are also plenty of aftermarket convinces available.
Since the Fiat is new you get a warranty with it. You also get a car that won’t likely have repairs for a while. If you purchase a used Boxster you will need to repair items, including replacing the clutch and intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing with one of the newer improved parts (if these repairs have not been done yet). Figure about $2,000 – $4,000 for this depending on the shop that does the repair (although you can do it for a lot less if you are mechanically inclined).
Even with a potential $4,000 repair bill for the Boxster, if you purchase a car at the $10,000 high end, you still end up ahead by about $10,000. The other advantage is that you are getting a car that has depreciated most of what is likely to happen. On the other hand the Fiat will take a steep hit on the used market for a number of years.
What would you go for the new Fiat 124 Spider with its warranty and modern options (which of course raises the price of entry) or the early Porsche Boxster with its better handling and higher horsepower? Scroll down to the comments and let us know.