When the Porsche Boxster was first sold for the 1997 model year, it had a base MSRP of $39,980. That was for the base level trim and options could quickly make that price climb. At the time the base 993 generation Porsche 911 Carrera started at about $73,000.
But what if the Boxster had entered the market at a higher price than the 911? The fact is, it almost did.
The Porsche Boxster helped keep the German car maker in business during the 90’s. Sales of the 944 and later 968 had gone down and Porsche need an entry level sports car to help keep the company afloat.
For this new car, Porsche looked to their past. Unlike the front-engined water cooled sports cars of the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, Porsche looked at a legend to design the Boxster after. That famed automobile was the Porsche 550 Spyder.
Like the Spyder, the Boxster would be an open-aired vehicle with an engine sitting in the middle and behind the driver. The shape of the new car would be reminiscent of the 550 Spyder, but with a modern take. Since the Boxster was designed to be a road car, versus the racing focus of the 550, luxury elements were fitted. This included features like a power convertible top and options like heated leather seats.
Before production started the cost to build a Porsche Boxster would have required that it be sold for $80,000 in order to make a profit. The new roadster that wouldn’t be as fast as a 993, would have had to cost more than said 911. Obviously, that wasn’t going to help save Porsche from bankruptcy.
Porsche wanted their new roadster to cost about $40,000. This price point would bring in a new market segment and put the Boxster in a position to sell enough units to help fund continued development of the 911.
Since the early Porsche Boxster would need to cost $80,000, Porsche needed to rethink how they did things. Porsche’s manufacturing methods were not very efficient. For example, their process required that employees needed to climb ladders and search through parts bins.
The entire build process was very much by hand. This was in some ways a good thing, but it also meant that production was very limited. Beyond this, before the Boxster was added to the lineup, models like the 911, 944 and 928 shared very few parts and were essentially different platforms.
The whole process would make someone from Toyota go crazy. Since the Japanese manufacture was well know for efficiency, consultants that were former Toyota engineers were hired to take a look at Porsche’s build process. They made a number of changes and brought the manufacturing process into the modern age.
With the introduction of the 986 Boxster, Porsche would have their new car share many parts from the 996 generation 911 that was in the works. In fact 40 percent of parts would be shared between the 986 and 996. The result was a family resemblance that is unmistakable. Especially the front end of the Boxster and the new 911 would be nearly identical. This would make early 996 owners complain and eventually Porsche would update the headlights of the 996 to make it appear different.
While many have lamented these changes, it has helped make Porsche a profitable company. All of this helped keep the legendary 911 on the road and expanded Porsche’s portfolio to all the great machines we have today.
Fortunately, Porsche was able to get the base price of the early Boxster under $40,000. But for all of you early Boxster owners; if anyone every makes a comment about you owning a “cheap” Porsche, you can let them know that it originally would have cost $80,000. Beyond this, it would have cost about $125,000 in today’s money.
Now scroll down to the comments and let us know what you think of the early Boxster nearly costing $80,000.