The Porsche Boxster and the Porsche Cayman are the two entry-level Porsche sports cars. There are only slight differences between the two, but if you prefer a coupe, you’d probably prefer the Cayman. If you prefer a convertible, you’d probably prefer the Boxster.
But what if you want a convertible, but you also want the ability to not use the flimsy fabric soft-top that usually comes with a Porsche Boxster? Well, some Boxster models do offer this option, but a genuine Porsche hardtop costs a few thousand dollars.
The newest 981/718 Boxster models do not offer a hardtop version from the factory, but some aftermarket manufacturers might be able to offer you some kind of a hardtop. However, this is generally not advisable because an aftermarket hardtop will most definitely void your warranty if anything goes wrong.
It’s also worth mentioning that Porsche did formerly offer hardtop options for some Boxster models. For example, the 986 Boxster, but this was not your usual retractable hardtop, rather a fixed panel that had to be put in place manually.
Porsche 986 hardtop
Due to increased customer demand, Porsche made a fixed hardtop panel for the Porsche Boxster 986. These hardtops are quite expensive; an OEM Porsche factory hardtop panel for a 986 will set you back at least $4,500-$5,200.
An additional issue is that all of these hardtop panels are usually offered in matching colors and a matching finish. But two different panels not being painted at the same time usually means that the color might be a bit off. And that’s not something you’d want for your Porsche for $4,500.
Finding a hardtop for your 986 in a matching color might also be an issue because the 986 is a fairly old model, and there are only a few of these left knocking around on the internet. Buying a different color, and then painting it in your color of preference might cost you well over the usual $4-5k entry price.
No matter the case, the Porsche OEM 986 hardtop is the best option for your 986. It offers a perfect fit, and it’s also the hardtop panel to buy if you want to retain as much value as possible for the future resale value of your 986.
Porsche 987 hardtop
A factory hardtop panel is also available for the 987/987.2 Boxster generations. The difference from the 986 generation Boxster hardtop panel is the fact that the panel for the 987 costs considerably less. If you want a hardtop panel for your 987, you can get one for $2.5-$3.5.
The hardtop panel for the 987 is finished in the same way as the 986 Boxster hardtop panel. These are also painted in pretty much every popular 987 Boxster color for easier matching purposes. The aforementioned mismatch between colors is indeed possible, but there are ways to significantly decrease the deviation.
The obvious benefit of opting for a factory Porsche hardtop panel is that Porsche tries to offer you all the amenities you might expect from a Cayman. This means that this hardtop comes equipped with a heated rear windshield, black-lined headliner with proper sound isolation and the installation process is rather easy and not time-consuming.
You could also opt for aftermarket hardtop panels that might be easier to source out to some, and also might be a bit cheaper. But you should avoid these if you are not 100% familiar with all the ins and outs of some specific hardtop panels.
Porsche 981/718 hardtop
After the 987 Boxster, Porsche stopped offering a hardtop panel for all future Boxster generations. The successor of the 987.2 was the 2013 981 generation, and even though many customers were expecting an eventual hardtop option for the 981, it never came to fruition.
It never came because it didn’t fit with Porsche’s strategy back in 2013 and it’s fairly understandable as to why Porsche never offered it. First of all, a hardtop panel needs to be developed, which costs money and time. And why would Porsche spend that money after they have already developed a soft top and a coupe?
Additionally, Porsche also adopted a more rigorous weight reduction strategy, and additional bolting points for a hardtop were one of the first things to go. A hardtop usually adds 40-50lbs at the very top of the car which increases the center of gravity and messes with the car’s aerodynamic and handling profiles.
It’s the same story with the 718, and Porsche didn’t offer a hardtop for the 718 Boxster as well. You might be able to source out an aftermarket hardtop panel for these Boxster models, but that is definitely not advisable because there are no bolting points for a hardtop, which means that you’d probably have to drill into your car.
Where can I buy a hardtop for my 986/987 Boxster?
You should always contact your dealer first if you are interested in specific parts for your Boxster. The prices might be a bit inflated, but it’s always good to know the difference between dealer prices and specialized parts shop prices.
Otherwise, fine a place that specializes in genuine/OEM Porsche parts where you can find a lot of additional equipment for your 986/987.
What are the drawbacks of a hardtop on a non-factory-made hardtop convertible?
This is a really important question to ask yourself when you end up deciding to buy a hardtop for your Boxster. The Boxster was never intended to offer a hardtop, and the hardtop panels were an afterthought, so there are some implications worth mentioning.
First of all, many owners have complained about lots of creaks and noises coming from the hardtop panel. Furthermore, some owners have even reported water leakages. A hardtop also adds unnecessary weight and decreases the car’s dynamic abilities.
Should I just buy a Cayman if I want a hardtop Porsche Boxster?
You most definitely should just get a Cayan if you’re wishing for a Boxster. The hardtop panel on the Boxster is not retractable, and it cannot be stored anywhere inside the car. This means that if you go on a trip with your hardtop in place, you will have to keep it on because there is no place for you to store it.
Instead, if you simply opt for a Cayman in the first place, you will get an arguably better-looking sports car that is lighter, and most likely more fun to drive compared to a Boxster. It’s either that, or just accept the fact that the soft-top 981/718 Boxster is your only option for now.