I'm thinking about buying a used Boxster this spring. Price range between 8-15 thousand, manual tran. what year(s) should I be looking for and what year(s) should I avoid (mech., elec. problems etc..)? please...... anybody?
Stay away from the 97's. Many of the cars of this first year had problems with their engine. Buy the newest, lowest milage you can afford. If possible, buy a 2003. These added a more powerful engine and glass window with defroster in the top. All 97-2005 Boxsters had the M96 engine that has had a problematic Intermediate Shaft. Some claim a failure rate of upwards of 20% of all engines (this includes all 996's that have the same base engine as well). However, don't let it frighten you off, just be aware of it. There are many, many 986 and 996's out there that have never had this issue. Oil/Air separator have also been an issue, but this is easily repaired if not driven with the condition. Other than that, the Boxsters are great cars.
Be very cautious about buying a Porsche without service records or without knowing the history of the car. These are high performance cars and if not cared for or if abused, can be very unpleasant to own. Repairs can get expensive very quickly. Also, find a reputable Porsche repair shop and have them perform a pre-purchase inspection. This will run about $75, but well worth it. If chosen carefully, you can end up with a car that will be wonderful to drive and own.
Ask around your local PCA club if anyone has a car for sale or knows of a car for sale. Check the classified of Panorama (Porsche Club magazine). Ask a club member for a copy, they will happy to oblige. Do your homework and you will be rewarded with a great car.
Here are a couple of links to help you with additional information.