Just like the 944, Porsche's first generation of water-cooled horizontally-opposed Boxster and 911 models, as well as later Cayman models, are a great value to first time Porsche owners. Here are a few quick tips when shopping for that new to you Porsche.
A quick Google search might scare some people away from purchasing any model from 1997-2008. Some of the top dollar failures such as RMS, IMS, AOS, intermix, or cylinder scoring, just to name a few. Do your homework!
When setting your budget, set aside extra money for preventative maintenance. $5-6k will get you a lot of work. If you can do the work yourself, even better. This will be the next big DIY market supported by developments in the aftermarket.
Buy as nice as a car as you can afford and don't fall in love with the first one you find. Be sure to have a proper PPI carried out prior to purchase. This includes dropping the sump and bore-scoping cylinders, among other checks that typically aren't part of normal pre-purchase inspections. You certainly don't want to have a post purchase inspection done and find you need a new engine.
The Rear Main Seal is mostly a non-issue. Just be sure whenever you have the transmission out that the newest PTFE Genuine Porsche seal is used. Leaky rear main seals were mostly due to improper machining of block and carrier alignment, which can be verified with the factory go-no-go tool. Most of these engines hopefully were pulled out of circulation early in their life under warranty.
The Intermediate Shaft Bearing is a very well documented problem, with the single row bearing found in 2000-2005 model years being the subject of a class action lawsuit and later settlement. Your takeaway on this should be the IMS bearing is a service item, like a timing belt. Depending on which technology is employed, that will affect recommended service life. The IMS Solution, developed and patented by Jake Raby of Flat 6 Innovations and Charles Navarro of LN Engineering, provides a permanent, pressure-fed plain bearing like an aircooled 911, where their patented Single Row Pro IMS Retrofit uses a ceramic hybrid bearing.
The IMS Solution

The IMS Solution backdates the problematic Intermediate Shaft Bearing to a plain, pressure-fed bearing, like in Mezger engines and eliminates the need of service intervals and replacement.

Protected by 3 US Patents, The IMS Solution is designed for the life of the engine and carries 5 years / unlimited miles warranty.
Remember, the IMS can only be replaced as a pro-active service, not reactive, so once it fails, you're out an engine. An IMS failure generates FOD (foreign object debris) that contaminates the entire engine.
Later model years such as the 2006 through 2008, including the Cayman, have a larger, non-serviceable bearing that cannot be changed without disassembly of the engine. Fear not- at time of having your clutch done and RMS changed, you can have the grease seal removed from the factory bearing, allowing engine oil to better cool and lubricate the bearing, which should provide longer service life.
The Air-Oil Separator is a crucial component of the PCV system. Failure can cause smoking or worst case, pump oil into the cylinders and cause engine failure. Like the water pump, we recommend replacement with a Genuine Porsche AOS as a maintenance item. If you plan on going on track, consider the Motorsports version which is costly, but the stock AOS can be easily overwhelmed on track.
Cylinder failures are one of those items that you can't predict or prevent. Keeping the engine cool with the addition of a low temperature thermostat or even upgrading to having a center radiator are excellent steps to improve longevity. The water pump on these engines need to be replaced every 4 years or 50,000 miles using a Genuine or OEM pump, prior to failure, as replacement after failure will most likely lead to cracked cylinder heads, which again, are very expensive as they will need to be replaced and cannot successfully be repaired.
Cylinder failures fall into three main categories: slipped sleeve, where blocks were sleeved by the factory and failure is caused by dropping of the sleeve; cracked cylinder, aka d-chunk, is where a cylinder forms a crack and there is intermix (oil and water mix in the engine); and scored cylinders.
Scored cylinders comprise the majority of documented cylinder failures and are most common with 3.6, 3.8, and later 3.4 engines, always on bank 2 (cylinders 4-6). Good thing is you can bore-scope the bores through the sump and inspect for this!
Slipped sleeves are very uncommon and typically found in later 2.5 Boxster engines.
Cracked cylinders, including d-chunk, are most common in early 3.4, 3.2, and early 3.6 engines. There seems to have been improvements in later engines and cracked bores are not as common.
Preventative maintenance is the key to longevity of these engines, including gearboxes. When you choose to take them on the track, a few extra steps must be taken.

Do not install software tunes that raise the rev limiter, as the M96 and later M97 engine are known to have weak rod bolts that stretch with repeated redlining past the factory specified rev limit.
Always use a race oil on track  like Driven XP9 and observe oil manufacturer's recommended shorter service intervals.

Add a deep sump if you run a tire stickier than an all season street tire The added g-forces can cause oil starvation, which can lead to costly engine failures. The BRS 2 Quart Deep sump from LN Engineering provides proper protection when paired with race oil. 

Don't forget to take care of the gearbox and power steering pump- added cooling will help extend their life on track.
The following generation of Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models from 2009 through 2012, referred to as 987.2 and 997.2, are also coming down in value and becoming great choices as well.
These models do not have an intermediate shaft and have relatively few issues aside from those resulting from poor maintenance or heat related on track. They also featured the first models with PDK dual clutch gearbox, which has rapidly become the gearbox of choice on track. As with prior models, proper service intervals and added cooling of the drivetrain components, is key to longevity when taking these vehicles on track, and PPI inspections are recommended as well.

Do your homework, have a PPI done, and buy the best car you can afford. Keep in mind that being able to buy and being able to afford a Porsche are two very different things, however making a smart choice on which car to buy can ensure happy ownership and hopefully enjoyment both on and off track.
One of these tools measures parts. The other measures wear.
Used oil analysis measures wear particles as small as one micron. Utilizing the same technology applied by Formula 1 teams, SPEEDiagnostix used oil analysis kits detect wear, fuel dilution and contamination without needing to disassemble the engine. 

SPEEDiagnostix combines modern, analytical techniques with expedited processing to deliver valuable used oil analysis data in a timely manner. The report provided by SPEEDiagnostix allows you to make decisions based on data, not speculation.

In as soon as 3 days, know the health of the engine, transmission, or differential without removing the unit from the vehicle, and it is cost effective. For as little as $59.95 per sample, SPEEDiagnostix provides the ability to spot small problems before they become big problems.
Are the bearings OK? Are the injectors leaking? Does the engine need to be rebuilt? Does the oil need to be changed?

SPEEDiagnostix provides data that answers these questions and many more, and in a time frame that makes the data valuable. How much does it cost to replace parts damaged by a catastrophic failure? Saving just one engine pays for a lifetime of used oil analysis kits.
In order to provide our customers with a top notch, fast and reliable Used Oil Analysis, LN Engineering teamed up with Speediagnostix. We are an exclusive online distributor of Speediagnostix UOA kits.

Single and Dual kits available. Standard or Expedited turnaround.
Free ground shipping from LN store and to the lab.
125 Gladiolus St. | PO Box 401 | Momence, IL 60954 | Phone (815) 472-2939 Fax (413) 280-9041
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