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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody,

I've been lurking for the past year but finally decided to sign up. I know my questions probably have been asked a million times already but I wanted my own thread ;)

5 years ago I moved to Japan and been living there ever since. I've always been into cars but never got my driving license. Mostly because I could travel for free when I was a student and didn't need a car and after graduating I had a chance to immediately go to Japan where I'm living in a area where I don't need a car and car ownership here is way more expensive than what I could afford after moving.

However I'm 30 years old now, got a stable job and even though I'm not making a ton of money I'm doing alright. I got my driving license this month.

I've thought about my first car for a long time and I want to buy a Cayman. I've thought about getting a banger first but the problem is it is impossible to find a half decent manual car in Japan.

A thought about something like a Mazda Miata. You can get decent ones in Europe (where I'm from) for a couple of grand but in Japan its closer to 10 for one that isn't visually raped by some Japanese with an eye disorder. Add in a lot of additional costs such as tax, MOT, etc . (all expensive in Japan) that don't change that much whether you drive a Miata or Cayman and I decided it's better to spend my money on something I want rather than something I don't really want.

I do plan on renting a GT86 a couple of times to get more driving experience before buying a car myself. Rent is about a 100 bucks for half a day so I figured spending 1k on that over the next couple of months is better than getting a beater.

... Cayman as a first car?
After having convinced myself again a Cayman as a first car isn't a bad idea at all... how bad an idea is it, really? :p

Buying a car
My budget is about 30 - 40k. I definitely want a manual car and preferably a right hand drive car (for whatever reason Japanese all buy left hand drive Caymans...). At the moment I'm gravitating towards a 2.7 as I don't think I really want/need the power. I would like a CPO car but they are probably out of my budget, just as 987.2 cars which usually are well over 40k. 987.1 cars start at a little under 30k all the way up to about 50k depending (2.7 and 3.4). Mileage is usually between 10 and 100 kilometers. I'd say ~50k. That is pretty low when comparing to cars in Europa that sell for a similar price but often have 100 ~ 200 kilometers on them.

But supply is very low in Japan. Less than 40 cars in the whole country including left hand drive cars and less than 5 manual, right hand drive cars. The available cars are mostly '06, '07 and '08 models.

Is there anything I need to watch out for in particular when buying a car? If I buy a non dealer car I definitely want to get an inspection done at a dealer. Are Porsche dealers willing to do this and what kind of cost can I expect?

Maintenance
I've been reading a lot about this and it seems the cars are fairly reliable as long as you stick to the maintenance schedule and don't get unlucky with IMS or bore scoring issues though it seems those issues are so rare it is not really worth worrying about.

For maintenance I'm thinking about setting 1000 ~ 1500 dollars aside per year. This is just maintenance, not tires. Is this a realistic number?

The minor and major service charges appear to be 500 and 1000 bucks, and 2 ~ 300 for a (yearly?) oil change, brake pads 500, tires 250 a piece? I'll obviously need to check Japanese prices though if similar it isn't a problem with my budget I think.

Outside the service intervals, what kind of wear and tear, other issues and related costs are likely to occur? Any model year specific things I need to be aware of?

Other stuff?
Are there any other things I need to understand and be aware of when it comes to Caymans and Porsche ownership in general?

This weekend there is an event with local dealers gathering about 60 CPO'd cars. Doesn't look like they'll have a lot of Caymans and no 987.1 models as far as I can tell but I plan on going there and just check out the cars close buy, sit in them and get information from the dealers.

I am in no hurry to buy. I want to make sure I got all the info I can get so I know what I'm getting into so I can enjoy the car instead of worrying about "what if's". I also want a car that is right for me though it might look like choice will be pretty thin if I insist on a RHD car.

Maybe contacting dealers and exclusive car dealers to contact me when they have a car available is better than checking the used car websites?

What I really want is:
Manual
RHD
NOT WHITE
Beige interior (looks a million times better than black IMO, no matter the car).

Everything else I'm not too worried about (not) having.
 

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Lotsa questions. When I first moved to America I bought a Boxster so have some understanding of your situation. Boxsters and Caymans were originally intended to be street driving, sporty cars; they make excellent daily drivers and very mild mannered, but are more than enough fun to really enjoy yourself on country roads on the weekend, even the base model. Seriously... if you like a sports oriented daily driver the 987s are just stunning. They have a lot of storage for a 2 seater, the only issue is there are only 2 seats so you have to pick only one friend to enjoy the fun. Plus, will you have lots of friends come to visit? This might be an issue if so. That said, they are not normal "daily drivers" so you need to consider a few things.

You definitely want a RHD car, though I'll bet LHD cars are a lot cheaper. Depending on where you came from in Europe, if you drive a LHD car you will get easily confused and end up on the wrong side of the street (trust me, I drove only RHD cars until I was 36 and had a helluva time learning how to drive LHD in America, Most of the time is fine then you just forget and suddenly you're on the wrong side of the road).

Not sure about cars but Japanese motorbikes are limited to 112 mph. Japanese traffic is pretty busy so unless you live really close to Suzuka, a 2.7L should not be a problem. My original Boxster was a 2.7 and it's more than enough fun around tight, twisty roads.

When buying: for Caymans I am almost certain this is done but you really want to make sure the IMS (intermediate shaft) is the late model with the irreplaceable bearing. I'm pretty sure on the 987s only the 2005 Boxsters had the old model. I'm currently getting my engine (with the old bearing) rebuilt and the builder will only warranty the late model IMS shaft; he says he has never, ever seen a problem with them. Other thing to check is the water pump; when was it changed? It's plastic so it will corrode and fall apart after 40,000 miles or so. The bore scoring and D-chuck issues are just that; an issue. But they're not common, and every vehicle has their weakness. 987.1s as daily drivers, i.e. not track thrashed, should be fine. A bigger problem is the rear main seal, but if your car has had that problem, it should have been fixed a long time ago.

Ask for, and check, the service history. If there is evidence of a dealer working on the car, call them up to ask what they have done to the car. They might not tell you, but this is the best chance of finding out what has been changed on the car.

If it's a manual make sure the clutch pedal has some travel, it's an easy way to tell if you will soon need to replace the clutch. Next thing is to get a PPI (pre purchase inspection) done by someone who can read the engine codes. If you want a manual, what you want to look for are the over-rev codes, which record the number of times the engine went over the rev limit. Codes 1 and 2 are fine (basically the owner banged the engine off the rev limiter) but beyond that, and the driver changed gears at a point that forced the engine to go well over the limit. The tiptronic version did not allow this to happen so this is a moot point for the automatics.

The sport mode is good, but I would avoid getting PASM shocks. Not that they are not great (I have PASM on my car), but it is very expensive to replace if you need to and you can buy a set of Bilstein B6 or B8 shocks non-PASM much cheaper if you need to replace/ upgrade your shocks (the originals are basically Bilstein B4s so these are a good upgrade). Likewise PCCM brakes, this is super expensive to replace; yes it's a better brake system than standard but even the bottom line brakes are excellent for street driving. You also want the Bose music option, so that the music is not terrible (but prepare to be disappointed with Porsche factory music options, they're really poor compared to other cars). It's good to get Bi-Xenon front lights; they really make a difference. For daily driving the base model seats are totally fine. Factory seat upgrades can cost A LOT of money.

If you find a Boxster Spyder for sale I would not buy it. Getting the roof up is tough and Japan has some really, really strong rain storms.

After buying: check the wear on the engine and transmission mounts when it's being serviced. The engine mount in particular is weak and doesn't hold up well in spirited driving, so an older model may have some wear, even a tear in the engine mount. Replace this with a semi solid mount, it will make the car more responsive without compromising daily comfort. For a manual, expect the gearbox to feel a little sloppy, that's just a Porsche. Changing the engine mount will make gear changes sharper.

For maintenance, if you have any inclination then you can do oil changes and brake changes on a Cayman yourself easily. This will save you a lot of money, just make sure you don't also save on parts or oil quality.

Overall, they should be a good buy. There are a lot of options for a Japanese boy/ girl-racer to buy a cheap fast car in Japan so it's less likely someone will buy a 987 to thrash. Anyone who can afford one should be able to have maintained it, plus Japan is simply not a country where road trips are common, so you should expect to find examples with lower mileage than, say America or Germany.
 

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IMHO, you are making the right choice. We bought our first Porsche at the end of last year and could not be happier with our 08 Cayman S. We paid 30K in south Florida, for what that is worth. 39K miles. The car has sufficent horsepower to make it fun, and of course the mid-engine handling is great. Both my wife and I have auto-crossed and tracked and have found it to be a great platform to learn on. It's hard to make a mistake! On the track the times I have gone into oversteer the car almost seems to correct itself lightning fast! If you are a do-it-yourselfer, which I prefer not to be, you will like the fact you can do many minor repairs yourself. Good luck and enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Seriously... if you like a sports oriented daily driver the 987s are just stunning. They have a lot of storage for a 2 seater, the only issue is there are only 2 seats so you have to pick only one friend to enjoy the fun. Plus, will you have lots of friends come to visit? This might be an issue if so. That said, they are not normal "daily drivers" so you need to consider a few things.
Ah yes I forget. Its mostly going to be a fun car for the weekend. Doing some road trips and having some fun at the local mountain roads. As long as I can fit the girlfriend and all her crap on a week(end) trip it's good enough hehe.

You definitely want a RHD car, though I'll bet LHD cars are a lot cheaper. Depending on where you came from in Europe, if you drive a LHD car you will get easily confused and end up on the wrong side of the street
As I have less than 20 hours of driving experience on the road at the moment it might not be that hard to change for me yet. Biggest problem is with right hand turns, Japan is one big intersection and you'll just be unable to see oncoming traffic. Mountain roads have lots of blind corners as well. Above all LHD just isn't practical.

My cousin drove a car he imported from Japan back in the Netherlands he said he got used to it quickly. Though it appears he's not really good at keeping his cars going so maybe that getting used to it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Not sure about cars but Japanese motorbikes are limited to 112 mph. Japanese traffic is pretty busy so unless you live really close to Suzuka, a 2.7L should not be a problem. My original Boxster was a 2.7 and it's more than enough fun around tight, twisty roads.
I think manufacturers had some kind of gentlemen agreement of not making bikes and cars go faster than x amount of kph but I don't believe that is the case anymore. It certainly isn't law as far as I know so I doubt foreign manufacturers would care.

Ask for, and check, the service history. If there is evidence of a dealer working on the car, call them up to ask what they have done to the car. They might not tell you, but this is the best chance of finding out what has been changed on the car.

If it's a manual make sure the clutch pedal has some travel, it's an easy way to tell if you will soon need to replace the clutch. Next thing is to get a PPI (pre purchase inspection) done by someone who can read the engine codes. If you want a manual, what you want to look for are the over-rev codes, which record the number of times the engine went over the rev limit. Codes 1 and 2 are fine (basically the owner banged the engine off the rev limiter) but beyond that, and the driver changed gears at a point that forced the engine to go well over the limit. The tiptronic version did not allow this to happen so this is a moot point for the automatics.
I don't know if Porsche dealers to this but if I buy from a Non Porsche dealer or private I was planning on asking a Porsche dealer to do the PPI and possibly have the dealer to a check on previous maintenance. Finding a good independent might be hard. I thought about asking the local Porsche club as well but look like the club is run by the local dealer so they might just recommend me to bring it over to them anyway.

How important is service history? Japanese are supposed to be pretty meticulous about stuff like this (they have a strange love for all things paper and documentation). Might be best to walk away from a car that doesn't have any.

The sport mode is good, but I would avoid getting PASMicon shocks. Not that they are not great (I have PASM on my car), but it is very expensive to replace if you need to and you can buy a set of Bilstein B6 or B8 shocks non-PASM much cheaper if you need to replace/ upgrade your shocks (the originals are basically Bilstein B4s so these are a good upgrade). /quote]

Noted. I do believe a fair amount of cars here have PASM. Not super useful I guess as the roads are generally well maintained.

If you find a Boxster Spyder for sale I would not buy it. Getting the roof up is tough and Japan has some really, really strong rain storms.
If not the rain its the intense heat that makes me want to NOT own a convertible car.

After buying: check the wear on the engine and transmission mounts when it's being serviced. The engine mount in particular is weak and doesn't hold up well in spirited driving, so an older model may have some wear, even a tear in the engine mount.
Thanks. Is this an expensive job?

For maintenance, if you have any inclination then you can do oil changes and brake changes on a Cayman yourself easily. This will save you a lot of money, just make sure you don't also save on parts or oil quality.
Wish I could but a lack of space and skills will probably make me have somebody do it for me. Doesn't seem to be too expensive a job so I can probably just budget for that before buying the car. Obviously it depends but I suppose on a weekend car you don't have to go and change breaks every other year.

Overall, they should be a good buy. There are a lot of options for a Japanese boy/ girl-racer to buy a cheap fast car in Japan so it's less likely someone will buy a 987 to thrash. Anyone who can afford one should be able to have maintained it, plus Japan is simply not a country where road trips are common, so you should expect to find examples with lower mileage than, say America or Germany.
True. I also suspect a lot of people in Japan that can afford these cars at new prices don't actually have a whole lot of time to drive them either.

But yeah, when you can buy a new GT86 for the same price as a used Cayman I guess the choice is easy for most people in Japan. They love new things and it's a Toyota so it will cost next to nothing to run, maintain and insure.
 

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Hi there t_o_c....

perhaps you may have better luck connecting with some independent locals on where to do the pre purchase inspection (PPI) or service costs specific to your location.
also came across this thread on Japan club for Caymans http://www.planet-9.com/987-cayman-and-boxster-chat/30811-cayman-club-japan.html
how are the values of 996/997 generation 911? those might be close and in budget too?

you may also want to consider the key options that are important to you. Halogens vs. Xenons and type of Seats are the most important to get right upfront.

a lot of cars are exported out of Japan once they are a few years old which could explain why there are so few available. esp. the higher end/luxury brands/collectibles.

the cost of maintaining the car will be dependent on the previous usage, maintainence carried out. It will be around 10 years old after all.
for heavy milage vehicles expect water pump, transmission fluids, plugs, lower arms, suspension, brake pads/rotors to be possible replacement items. gives you a change to upgrade or customise if you're so inclined. I have no idea what labour rates are if you're not doing your own work but assume they are expensive in Japan....

RHD is a no brainer, unless you want to take it back to a LHD country later.

There are a lot of JDM choices too and 2nd hand GT86, Evolution or R32/34 would look pretty good too - good luck :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
perhaps you may have better luck connecting with some independent locals on where to do the pre purchase inspection (PPI) or service costs specific to your location.
also came across this thread on Japan club for Caymans Cayman Club Japan
Thanks, I'll post in that thread and see if there is still some life in it. It would be nice if dealers do PPI's as well though. Makes it easier if I'm buying a car outside the area I'm living in.

how are the values of 996/997 generation 911? those might be close and in budget too?
I don't know about the 996 but you can get a base 718 with a bunch of options for the price of a used 997. Suppose 911 maintenance and running costs are a lot higher too. I don't think that will fit my budget.

the cost of maintaining the car will be dependent on the previous usage, maintainence carried out. It will be around 10 years old after all.
for heavy milage vehicles expect water pump, transmission fluids, plugs, lower arms, suspension, brake pads/rotors to be possible replacement items. gives you a change to upgrade or customise if you're so inclined. I have no idea what labour rates are if you're not doing your own work but assume they are expensive in Japan....
Thanks. I will be going to a dealer event this Sunday so that will be a good opportunity to ask about maintenance cost.

There are a lot of JDM choices too and 2nd hand GT86, Evolution or R32/34 would look pretty good too - good luck
I did consider a GT86 at first as you can buy a brand new one fully optioned for the price of a used Cayman. But thinking about it it's just not it for me. It has the same problem as almost all Japanese cars. They tried to make it kinda cool/sporty looking but it only looks like that because that is the assignment the designers got, its devoid of any emotion or soul. For that same reason I don't care much about Skylines.
 
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