This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster. The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
The Boxster roof controller is somewhat bothersome in that you need to bring the car to a full stop and apply the emergency brake in order to raise or lower the roof. This can be annoying to both you and other drivers if you're trying to raise or lower the roof at a stop light. This restriction is designed to protect the roof so that you don't damage it while driving and exposing it to large wind forces.
Fortunately, there are a few ways around this restriction. You can purchase an aftermarket module that plugs into your car. The SmartTop, designed and manufactured by Mods4cars and available at PelicanParts.com is one of these replacement relay / controller modules for your Boxster. This module allows you to raise and lower the roof while the car is cruising at speeds under 25 mph (40 km/h). In addition, the roof can be raised and lowered with one-touch operation: simply press the button once and the roof will completely raise or lower itself without you having to hold down the button. But beware: if the roof catches on something or someone sticks their hands in the roof during this one-touch operation, the results can be ugly (see Pelican Technical Article: Convertible Top Repair). Installation is a snap: simply put the roof down, turn off the ignition, pull out the old controller relay from your relay panel and install the SmartTop unit in its place (see Figure 1).
There is also a "poor man's version" of this feature-override. By removing one of the pins on the factory convertible top relay, you can override the speed control limiter and open the roof while driving. You will also need to pull up on the emergency brake one click in order to activate the switch. Of course, this will allow you to open the roof when the car is going 60 mph: which can be dangerous and will certainly damage your roof. Exercise caution when you have these overrides installed.
Adding this is a snap: simply remove the relay, and bend pin #18 down towards the center of the relay so that it won't be inserted into the relay socket any more. The pin numbers are written down on the back of the relay. You can also override the emergency brake switch too by simply grounding pin #15. You can do this by bending the pin over pin 15 and soldering a wire to it and then connecting that wire to a chassis ground. Or, you can remove the wire that goes to pin 15 in the relay socket, put it off to the side, and install a ground wire in its place.
This photo shows the location where the SmartTOP module is installed. This relay panel is located above where your left foot rests while driving. The yellow arrow shows the foot rest, while the green arrow shows the location of the panel that covers the fuse box. The SmartTOP module replaces the factory control module located in the center of the relay panel (red arrow). The inset photo in the upper left shows the back of the relay with all of the pins labeled (pin #18 indicated by the purple arrow).