The magical $20,000 mark doesn’t buy you much Porsche. Even less when you are talking about a Porsche with an engine mounted somewhere behind the seats. You have the 914 and the Boxster, and maybe an R-title automatic 996. However, now as the years pass, we have another option. I know I already ruined the surprise, but the 987 Cayman is suddenly under the $20,000 and there are lots of them. Granted, a lot of them are the not-so powerful base Cayman with the 2.7L, but to my surprise, this is a Cayman S!
1999 was the first year of the new 911, and it’s been a debate ever since. But Porsche had to move forward from the air-cooled design ultimately, and the new 911 Carrera was happy to pick up the pieces. The smoothed out styling made the 911 more aerodynamic yet was instantly recognizable as being from Porsche. So, too, was the exhaust note; a flat-6 still powered the best from Stuttgart, but now it was water-cooled instead of air-cooled.
The Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 shared a 3.4 liter variant of the flat-6, the M96. Out of the box, these cars had 300 horsepower – a number that a Turbo would have been happy with only a decade earlier. VarioCam assisted the motor in both being smooth in its power delivery and, unlike the Turbos of yore, that power was available in most of the tachometer. 0-60 was gone in 5 seconds and flat-out, even the drop-tops could do 165 mph. They were comfortable, fast sports cars that were capable in the tradition of the company. And today, they are without doubt the most affordable way to get into the 911 range.
Those first 1999 911s came in Carrera 2 form meaning rear-drive only as Carrera 4s rolled out a bit later, but you could opt for either a Coupe or this car, a convertible Cabriolet. The Cabriolet stickered at $74,460, but in typical Porsche fashion as you added in options the price went up quickly. But today, these cars offer a great entré into Porsche 911 ownership:
I’ll admit that a fair amount of these 10K face-offs are somewhat limited in their execution. Often, the examples of cars I’m able to track down for the day of the article aren’t the best that are out there or, more often than not, in an effort to fit the cars under the 10K budget they’re just not the prime examples or they’re not good matches. However, there are two performance convertibles on fairly equal footing that really offer a tremendous amount of proverbial bang for your buck these days; come to the table with around $10,000 and you can pick up either a E36/7 BMW M Roadster or 986 Porsche Boxster S. Granted, in some cases the stars have to align just right and there are many weeks where there aren’t two good examples in the price range – but today there just happen to be two very comparable examples to look at. Similar mileage, similar colors and similar power and drive mean that these two are still competing with buyers as they were when new. However, it’s there where the two cars seem to point towards the very different philosophies and character of their respective parent companies. Let’s then in the waning days of a summer gone by at two special and quite reasonably priced convertible sports cars: