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1993 Porsche Boxster Concept

Boxsterconcept1 When the Porsche Boxster debuted in 1996, I felt like the only person in the world who wasn't exhilarated. It's not that I didn't think the Boxster was a terrific car. On the contrary, at its debut the Boxster was beautiful in design and execution, a redefinition of the open-topped sports car that combined the fun of a Mazda Miata or an MGB but with a much sharper performance edge. All of those things were and are true, and by any measure the Boxster is a fantastic car.

No, I was disappointed because my heart had already been claimed by the Boxster show car that debuted in 1993 at the Detroit Auto Show. Compared to that svelte knockout, the production Boxster felt like a milquetoast disappointment. At a glance the two cars look fairly similar, but the show car was just enough more sultry, just enough more edgy and daring than the elegant but straightforward production Boxster that the show car fired adrenaline while the Boxster merely provoked admiration. Slick, smooth, tightly wrapped, and with the air of the exotic, the concept Boxster recalled the Porsche 550 RS Spyder without obvious retro pandering.

Boxsterconcept2 When the Boxster show car debuted, it was also fascinating in that it promised a new kind of Porsche--built only as a droptop, with the engine mounted amidships, and with a strong character of its own. At the time, the long-lived 911 was still air-cooled and had undergone only evolutionary change over the previous decade. Other 911 sidekicks--namely, the 914, 924, 944, and 928--were lauded by a few of us fanatics but didn't really capture the world's imagination.

The Boxster show car had the charisma to change all that--and despite the dilution required for production, the original formula was still potent enough to make the Boxster the most visible and broadly coveted Porsche sidekick since at least the 928 and possibly ever. There must be others that feel as I do about the concept--unlike most show cars, it is available as a die-cast collectible. I am the proud owner of a 1/18-scale version, which is unfortunately as close as I'm likely to get to the Boxster concept car.

Both of the photos in this post were taken by John Lamm for Road & Track. The second picture is part of a great page of Boxster photography at the Porsche Club of America.

--Chris H.


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Oh come on you're taunting me, right? Ha. The Boxter is quite interesting. It's relatively affordable compared to a similar 911, yet hasn't got the same performance numbers, by design I guess. The Boxter is basically configured similarly to the 914, a mid-engined entry-level Porsche. I guess what frustrates me about it is that, in my opinion, a transaxle design with the engine at the front and power to the rear wheels is a completely better concept, more practical for actually using the car every day, proven with the 924/944/928 line of cars. Rear and mid-engine designs certainly have advantages, for example traction is improved and you get the raw noise of an engine cranking away right behind your head. However, for hauling stuff, and doing the things you need to do with a daily driver car, which any Porsche ostensibly is, the Boxster is a little short in that category.
Not that I don't want a Boxster, but not badly enough. The particular concept car is fantastic, though. Nothing like all those swoopy curvy lines and flat rear with those glittery wheels, very nice.
If you're interested, there's a video of our vacation through Alaska in the 944 posted on the comments section of that carlustblog entry, FYI.

I have no recollection of the concept, but remember being gobsmacked by the production model when it came out. Here's what I wrote about it, and its recently-introduced competition, in 1997:

I've now examined all three contenders — Mercedes Benz SLK, BMW Z3, and Porsche Boxster — up close, and am prepared to pass judgment. The prize for Best Looking $40,000 Roadster by a Former Slave Labor-Using Nazi-Supporting Car Company goes to.... Porsche. Mercedes gets points for the retractable hardtop, and a nod must go to BMW for the (somewhat belated) homage to Albrecht Goertz, but the Boxster could give up cards & spades and still win the game. Of course, your mileage may vary.

You know... I was helping a friend move, and saw that 1/18th scale model of the boxster, and was amazed at how good it looks. I didn't realize it was a concept, I just thought I hadn't been paying attention to 'life size' boxsters, and that when small, it looked really cool. Now I know that they're different animals. But yes... the concept = way hotter. :)

I never saw the concept car, but Chris I'm completely with you. When the Boxster debuted I kept wantig to like it, but I was completely underwhelmed. The fore of the car was well executed and sleek. The aft was ungainly and disappointing. It was not bad - it just was not quite right. It needed refinement and energy - it had a butt that required liposuction. The concept Boxster resolves all the problems with the production model.

Oh yeah one more thing. The Boxster is the worst name that Porsche has ever afforded one of its models. It just sounds stupid. I'm not a Porsche purist, but really, just give it a number for crying out loud.

Absolutely! Actually I'm sure it has an internal production number, looks like it was the 986 and 987. If I were to own one, I'd be sure to put that number on there somewhere. What's sad about it for me is that it marks the end of the water-cooled front engine, rear wheel drive layout, which is a design decision that is somewhat dubious. The Boxter replaced the 968 which is the last water-cooler, and final evolution of the design.
I think that's a shame, because the handling characteristics are so very different between rear-engine and front engine cars, and the handling was so much better in the front engine cars of the time.
I read an article one time that tested the 924 against the 911 on a skid pad, and the 924 wiped out at something like 20% greater speed than the 911.
The decision to cancel the water-pumpers strikes me as market-driven, for example, Porsche purists who insist on the RR layout have more dough to spend on cars, thus we must appeal to their desires instead of creating cars which may be technically better for everyone.

I have to say, the latest Boxters at least look pretty decent. The updates to headlights and taillights and the new look of the wheels on some models have partly won me over, but I still have to agree that the concept is better looking by a large margin.

Actually, Brian, you are wrong about the practical cargo holding capabilities of the Boxster. The Boxster has a huge front trunk that will swallow two suitcases, and that will still leave room in the back trunk for your carry-on sized bag. For two people, it has plenty of room for a weekend trip's luggage.

You weren't the only one disappointed with the production model. Actually, 'disappointed' is putting it mildly - I was shattered that the car of my dreams had turned into an ugly duckling.

You have ripped off my photos of the Porsche Boxster...stolen from Road & Track. Please remove them.

Just so everybody knows, I talked to John separately and he agreed we could use the photos as long as we gave him credit. Our policy is worth repeating - when we can identify an original source, we put a lot of effort into giving proper credit; in this case we credited the page where we found the photos, not realizing they were originally from John Lamm and Road & Track. Many thanks to John for working with us and allowing us to keep his photography up. I think it's important to show his photos because they really show the uniqueness and beauty of the Boxster concept; there aren't many photos of the car out there, fewer still of any real quality.

You spelled Boxter wrong. There is no "s" in Boxter.

...take a look at this image up close, daniel - porsche does indeed spell boxster with an 's'...

I actually had the pleasure of having this her pass me on the 580 Freeway near Hayward CA. She was excrutiatingly beautiful, and much more veloptuous then the production model. I thought it was some tuner Porsche, and the name tattooed on her back said Boxter. I was in love, as I sat in my 1983 Cutlass I watched her fade into the distance in the late afternoon. Such a sexy back.

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