by Dan Carney
The shiny aluminum stacks atop the carburetors of old racing cars are called “intake trumpets,” because their bell-shaped openings resemble those on the brass horn. The 2001 Porsche Boxster, like every new car, has a plastic air intake system that no one would mistake for a finely tuned instrument. But the wonderful sound that blares from the Boxster’s intake is the equal, for gearheads anyway, of any tunes Satchmo ever blew on his horn.
Most cars make their aural statement with their exhaust note, and the Boxster’s smooth exhaust purr is audible much of the time. The flat, horizontally opposed 2.7-liter six-cylinder engine is one of the few engine configurations that provide perfect primary balance (an in-line six and a 60-degree V-12 are the others), so the engine is silky throughout the rev range. But as the revs climb past 5000 rpm, a harmonic resonance builds in the intake system that blasts like music out the Boxster’s driver’s side air intake, willing the driver to go faster.
The air intake/megaphone is only a couple of feet from the driver’s left ear, and with the top down the sound is as pervasive as jazz in the Big Easy. To borrow a phrase from another musical genre, if it is too loud, you are too old.Retro trendy
The Boxster may be the king of aesthetics, because it backs up its soundtrack with a great video. The car’s styling confirmed the arrival of the retro trend when the Boxster appeared as a show car at the 1993 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And Porsche did it right, with a curvaceous style that recalled the company’s speedsters from the 1950s, without being a clone of those cars.
This reviewer could be content to spend the whole day either cruising at 5500 rpm or sitting at a roadside café admiring the Boxster’s distinctively styled flanks.