The 718 cars are great but don't sleep on the 981.
No Porsches are as universally praised as the GT models. In recent years, GT cars have exploded in value, putting them out of reach for the average buyer looking for a daily driver they can take to a track day. But two such cars now exist for well under $100,000 (a rare sight in Porsche GT world) that can be driven around without losing too much value.
The 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 and 2021 Porsche 718 Spyder are among our favorite current Porsche models, but at $100,200 and $97,300, respectively, they are out of reach for the average enthusiasts. And those are just the base prices. Remember, both will cost well into the six-figure range after options. For drivers who want a similar experience at a slightly more attainable price, check out the outgoing 981-generation Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder.
With its mid-engine layout, the Porsche Boxster/Cayman provides one of the purest driving experiences on the market. The 981-gen cars are especially good as Porsche had yet to switch over to a turbocharged engine lineup. Both the Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 are the most hardcore variants of the coupe and cabrio, built to be the fastest and most-track capable.
Each car was extremely limited so they should hold their values for years to come. Porsche only built 2,400 examples of the 981 Spyder, 850 of which came to the United States. The GT4 is slightly less rare with 2,500 built, and at the time, it was unclear if these models would ever receive successors. Both the 987 Boxster Spyder and the Cayman R that preceded these cars have held their value, so we have no reason to doubt that the 981 cars will be a safe investment.
Since the GT4 is slightly more common than the Spyder, it's slightly less expensive on the used market. Neither of these cars has plummeted in price, but both offer thousands in savings compared to the new 718 models. We found used Cayman GT4 prices starting under $75,000. That's about $25,000 less than a new model before factoring in pricey Porsche options. As for the Boxster Spyder, the least expensive example we found was just under $90,000, representing around a $10,000 savings over a new one with zero options.
The Porsche option prices are what's important to remember here, as either car can shoot up to around over $140,000 with the addition of a few extras. Those looking for even more savings should look at the 987-generation Boxster Spyder and Cayman R, both of which can be found for less than $60,000 and deliver an excellent driving experience.
Both the Spyder and GT4 use a 3.8-liter naturally aspirated flat-six engine that was taken from the 991-gen 911 Carrera S. Though it was de-tuned to produce 385 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, this was the first time Porsche had ever given a Boxster or Cayman similar performance to a 911. Both came exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, with long gearing that helped ensure the 911's dominance. With 0-60 mpg times of 4.3 seconds for the Spyder and 4.2 seconds for the GT4, they should feel quick enough for most drivers.
These cars were lighter than their standard counterparts and utilized other performance goodies such as upgraded brakes from the 991 GT3, a limited-slip differential, torque vectoring, a lower ride height, and active suspension. They could also be ordered without air conditioning, and the Spyder dropped the Boxster's electric soft top in favor of a lighter manual unit.
These cars were all about weight savings, so Porsche allowed customers to remove the air conditioning and radio if they wanted. The A/C and radio delete cars will likely draw a premium for collectors in the future, but the absence of either will likely be more of a nuisance than a benefit for someone looking to use these as a daily driver. Cabins will also look slightly different depending on how the original owner optioned the car. We suggest finding one with the optional sport bucket seats, but they do draw a premium on the used market.
Aside from having less sound-deadening materials and fabric pulleys instead of door handles, the Spyder and GT4 aren't tremendously less comfortable than their standard counterparts. They even retain the two trunk layout, meaning they can handle a weekly trip to the grocery store.
Porsche has taken the shine off the 981 Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 ever since it introduced the new models with the 4.0-liter flat-six engine. The new cars improve upon the formula set by these cars, but we aren't sure that the larger engine is worth tens of thousands more than the outgoing models. With 911 GT3 prices still sticking at insane levels, the GT4 and Spyder offer the best overall value for specialty Porsche cars. Someone can buy one, drive and track it, and still sell it without taking a huge loss.