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Porsche Boxster 25 Years

It is hard to imagine Porsche as anything other than the class-leading performance powerhouse it is today. Wind the clock by three decades and Porsche was close to bankruptcy with a faltering model range. That all changed in 1996, with the introduction of the Porsche Boxster, an entry-level roadster that sowed the seeds for the company’s future successes.  

In celebration of the model’s silver jubilee, Porsche kicked off 2021 with the unveiling of a new special-edition model, the Porsche Boxster 25 years. Based on 718 Boxster GTS 4.0, Porsche will be producing just 1,250 examples of the special-edition roadster. Each of which will be armed with the GTS 4.0’s 400PS 4-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six that can sprint from 0 to 100km/h in 4 seconds.  

Though customers can specify the Boxster 25 years in GT Silver Metallic, Deep Black Metallic, and Carrara White Metallic, all models are distinguished by its contrasting Neodyme copper trim and wheels, red Bordeaux leather interior upholstery, red fabric top, and exclusive ‘Boxster 25’ badging and emblems embellished throughout.

Showcased in GT Silver Metallic, the Boxster 25 years’ colour combination is a tribute to the 1993 concept car that first stoked the public’s imagination. Unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, the Boxster concept received an overwhelmingly positive response from the public and pundits alike. Porsche knew they had a future icon on their hands, promptly ceased development of its design and fast-tracked its production.

However, the beginning of Porsche’s journey to create the Boxster goes further back than the 1993 show. Entering the 1990s decade, Porsche came off the successes of the previous decade where it sold as much as 50,000 units in 1986 and headed into an economic crisis that saw sales crater, charting a new low of 14,000 sales in 1993.

By 1992, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy and Porsche knew something new needed to be done. Renewing the 924/944/968 range of expensive grand tourers wouldn’t revive Porsche’s fortunes in the economic turmoil of the 1990s. Instead, Porsche found inspiration from the North American success of an unlikely sports car, the Mazda Miata.

Despite the lacking brand heritage and sheer performance numbers, the Miata was a hit amongst North American buyers. It proved to Porsche that there was still an appetite for sports cars in the troubled market, just not for expensive ones. Porsche saw that the way forward wasn’t more upmarket, but to create a small entry-level roadster.  

Though Porsche could see the potential in the Boxster project, it had to figure out how to build it efficiently. Enter Wendelin Wiedeking, Porsche’s then production director, who was fascinated by the surging success of the Japanese auto industry.

Curious to learn about the Japanese’s ‘lean’ production methods, Wiedeking took his management team on tours of Japanese auto factories. Confident of what needed to be done, Wiedeking then invited a group of Japanese engineers – most of whom were formerly from Toyota – known as the Shin-Gijutsu to overhaul Porsche’s production methods. 

Thanks to the work of Shin-Gijutsu, production times, errors, and costs were greatly reduced, making the Boxster viable for its target audience. In 1996, thre years after the concept’s debut, the Boxster became the Porsche’s first all-new model in 18 years and its sixth production road car model line in its entire history.

Right out of the box the Boxster charmed both road-testers and customers. Its mid-engine flat-six charmed the hearts of many, while Porsche’s trademark handling finesse made it a gold-standard of sports cars. A reputation that it has proudly upheld ever since. Between the model’s introduction in 1996 and its discontinuation in 2003, it became Porsche’s best-selling model until the advent of the Cayenne SUV.

Not only did the success of the Boxster put Porsche’s finances on solid footing, but it also enabled Porsche to focus on product development. Thanks to the Boxster, Porsche could move onto developing other models like the Cayenne and Panamera, catapulting the company’s presence in the eyes of the world and further cementing its fortunes.

The lessons learnt from the Boxster turned Porsche into one of Germany’s greatest auto industry success stories. In the process, creating the conquering performance titan we know today. The Porsche Boxster’s success ensured further successive iterations, each of which had successfully redefined its segment. Now in its fourth generation with more than 357,000 units sold, the Porsche Boxster has truly become an icon of the storied Stuttgart name.

*The Porsche 911 is undoubtedly Porsche’s flagship and icon. However, Porsche did not set out to build a rear-engine sports car in the first place. Curiously the first Porsche was less like the 911 and more like the Boxster. Read more about it here.

About the Author: Formerly from The Malaysian Evo, Daniel Wong now finds himself in the sun-drenched vastness of the Down Under and has written for CarsGuide, WhichCar, Wheels, MOTOR, and 4×4 Australia. His thoughts on the past, present, and future of the automotive world can be read at his personal site The Motor Muse

Visuals: Porsche

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