Monday, April 6, 2015

10k: Coulda Been A Contender: 2001 Honda Prelude SH

 There was a time when front wheel drive Acura/Honda was a surprisingly close competitor to something like Ford's Mustang in terms of performance.  The 4th generation (1991-1996) was as quick as a Mustang GT to 60mph and had handling that could keep up in the curves -- despite the obvious handicap of front-wheel-drive.  The next generation Prelude was a better car in every aspect, but the competition was finally starting to figure out how to get power from 5+ liters of displacement and the little Honda faded out of existence after 2001.  Find this 2001 Honda Prelude SH offered for $8,950 in West Hollywood, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Andrey.


This isn't the average Prelude that has been tuned to run 10 second 1/4 miles by the Fast and Furious crowd, this is a minty clean, all original example with only 52k miles on the odometer.  If you think that front drive Japanese cars will become investor grade classics someday in the future, this is the one you want. 



The Prelude is powered by 2.2 liter H22A4 inline 4-cylinder engine, good for 195 horsepower, but that is only when VTEC kicks-in-yo.  Actually the H22 does have a surprising amount of torque at low rpm and the VTEC setup helps the off idle performance as much as it helps high end power.


Inside, you'll find a set of decent looking cloth seats, un-cracked Japanese plastic dash, door, trim pieces and a large manual shifter.  The Prelude, like most Hondas, features one of the nicer snick-snick feeling gearboxes in the business.


See another front drive classic? tips@dailyturismo.com

33 comments:

  1. Interesting proposition, DT; will the Prelude ever be a true collectible? Only time will tell. My feeling is that it probably won't. At most, it will be a mildly desirable used car for enthusiasts on a budget - which is a great thing in my book! If we look at the current market for 1978-1982, the trend doesn't seem to point that way. Most of my reference books predict a future return of 0% or don't even make the attempt to suggest any such thing.

    Still, this particular model and edition is a marvelous car in many ways. Personally, the handling of these was definitely one of the factors that opened the eyes of this hardcore RWD-only acolyte. It's simply fantastic and a boatload of fun to drive at 9/10ths. As low on torque as ever, that motor is not only an acquired taste but an entrance to a not-so-secret club once mastered.

    As a modern sporty coupe with a lot to offer the buyer I described above, this is a good buy except for price. The low miles would seem to warrant the rather high asking price, but it's a premium over the Blue Book value of around $7K. A bump of $2K is too much in my book. Would you pay the premium? Well, that's up to you. With plenty made and plenty on the market, that probably wouldn't be too wise. Maybe a potential buyer could talk the seller down to a more reasonable price. Then it would be an outstanding buy, given all of the inspections check out.

    Like it or not (by me), enthusiasts want modern, older JDM RWD and they're willing to wait and pay for it. The drifting scene has definitely driven this and I would present the 240SX as a prime example of what, who, when and where in terms of new-timers.

    There, I just wrote how many words that nobody will read? You're welcome!

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    1. ...they want modern and they want older JDM RWD coupes, that is.

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    2. I like talking to myself. I'm in total agreement with me. But it sure is boring - I already know what I'm going to say even before I even say it!

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    3. Toby or not two bees? Who the heck is Toby? And I hope I don't get stung!

      [img]http://quiteirregular.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/branagh-with-skull.jpg[/img]

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  2. Wow, is this really a 14 year old car now? Nice to see one that hasn't been hacked up by the FnF crowd. Too bad Honda doesn't make stuff like this anymore. Wish I had room in my garage for it.

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    1. By "Honda doesn't make stuff like this anymore", what do you mean, Gianni?

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    2. I'm thinking of this and the green show coupe that's being pimped by Honda. Seems to me to be somewhat of a genesis of the Prelude thinking. Granted, not exactly but cheap FWD performance from Honda...I'd suggest that it's not too much of a stretch...

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/iiKArJH.jpg?1[/img]

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    3. Yeah, I saw that and also supposedly we are finally supposed to get the Type R in the US. But I reserve the right to be skeptical after the CR-Z was billed to be the spiritual successor to the CRX, but it turned out to be an overweight hybrid. Remember when the first and second gen Accords were cool cars with clever engineering? My neighbor just got a new Accord. I thought it was a Buick at first with its bland styling and huge size. Soichiro must be spinning in his grave...

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    4. I hear you but I actually think the current Accord is a home run from every angle - even for the enthusiast.

      But it's impossible to disagree with the extremely poor marketing job on the CR-Zzzzz.

      I've read nothing to believe that the Type-R isn't coming to the States. As usual, they need to pump some pizazz into the Civic line. Unsurprisingly, they're doing the same thing they've always done for the past few decades. Which is dumb in my opinion but the obvious alternatives haven't seem to have worked all that great either, so who knows.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/ZezP5XZ.jpg?1[/img]

      If you don't find the 278-hp, 6-speed car pictured above intriguing, then there's no way I'm going to sway your opinion. Which is fine - hand me the keys. I had a chance to drive one of these the other day for a few minutes. It's by no means a sports car -nor is it meant to be- but it was more car than most folks need, for sure (give or take a few doors). It's every bit as cool and clever as the first Accords, even when you factor in the unavoidable modern bloat.

      BTW, one of my students is a Honda parts guy. I asked him how many of the CR-Z supercharger kits he's sold so far. He just looked at me and giggled.

      On another subject, how are you feeling about AR's choice to bag any involvement with the Miata. I know you and I are huge fans of both; I was sad. I think we're witnessing AR slipping away from the US market yet again. The Miata could have been a toehold, at the very least. They just can't seem to be able to figure it all out.

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    5. I dunno about the Accord coupe. Seems so big and bloaty to me and they slathered on a bunch of HP to make up for it. To me, Hondas were small, efficient, cleverly engineered cars with rev-y 4 cylinders that didn't have a lot of hp to win the US stoplight GP, but were reasonable fun when the road turned. But that is just my opinion, and the rest of the market doesn't agree.

      I think the whole Alfa Miata thing was a ruse that the Great Sergio fed the US FIAT dealers to quell the rebellion about investing in new facilities an only having the little 500 to sell. The promise was 500 now and lots of Alfas later. Now I think the tables have turned a bit and FCA is trying to build FIAT out in the US as a full line car maker with their new SUV and now the Miata/124 Spider. It will be interesting to see if the 124 Miata really happens or if Sergio will be able to wiggle out from the Mazda deal altogether.

      Frankly we've been told Alfa is returning to the US since they left in 1995. I don't have much interest in whether they return anymore or not at this point. I would guess most of the charming character of Italian cars has been beaten out of modern FIAT-Alfas anyway. I will continue to enjoy the "real" Alfa in my garage and will most likely add another pre-FIAT one sometime down the road.

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    6. That's what I'm saying - the AR/Miata deal is dead.

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    7. And in terms of "bloaty", like I said it isn't my biznaz to try to convince you otherwise. That being said, I can think of several current model coupes that drive like they belong in the sea *cough cough Challenger*. The Accord positively felt like a Mini compared to those others. But you've made up your mind and that's that.

      I've read the current so-called plan for AR's return Stateside. My take is that they just can't or won't decide exactly what AR is (here). Is it a specially sports car maker? Is it an upscale everyman's car? The Fiat invasion seems to be fizzling out, too. The new XL isn't making any waves around here that I can see. Folks are lot more interested in the Renegade, frankly. It's a sign of the times and the geography, IMO. And the 500 novelty is wearing thin unless you live in a big city. Around here, people want more car for their money or they just buy a Mini (which is usually a mistake, in their case). Fiat better get off it's butt and figure these things out quickly or their days are numbered. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing because they'd still have Chrysler+ in this country. Personally, I'd love one of these;

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/DsZWXKw.jpg?1[/img]

      Of course, it's probably too much of a boat for most DTers. :D

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    8. No worries. I seem to be getting cranky in my old age. I'd like a RWD Alfa myself. They keep talking about a new RWD platform for Alfa, but I have a hard time believing it unless it is an existing Chrysler platform. FIAT is too heavily invested in FWD and doesn't have the money to develop a new one unless it can be the basis for a Ram pickup ;-)

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    9. No need to ever apologize for having an informed opinion. I always find what you have to say interesting and I appreciate your comments.

      There's no arguing your point about Fiat and FWD, either. I just don't have such an aversion it that most enthusiasts do, so I'm not so bothered by the idea. Where I live, RWD doesn't really make much sense, but neither does 4WD/AWD, either. The weight and complexity of the systems aren't needed the majority of the time, only a few times a year. Believe it or not, FWD is the most logical solution around here. I understand fully that this is not the case in many other parts of the world (though I still personally believe it's true for most people).

      Fiat is a huge company and now it has access to an even wider array of platforms. Besides, I see no reason why they couldn't do something with the 952 platform. Maybe it's a case of the company just being too big and it can't do anything but step on its' own feet.

      Regarding the Honda 4-cylinder, it's still amazing. It's just that nobody talks about it because there are so many fantastic 4 out there these days. But it's still as zingy and sinewy as ever. Maybe it's quieter, certainly more powerful and more efficient...oh wait, those are all good things.

      The one thing I will say about Honda, which I've said for the past 30 years is that I don't believe they can really figure out automatic transmissions. The Honda autos that I've driven have always felt a bit fragile, the shifting has been historically less than smooth and until rather recently, inflicted with extremely poor long-term reliability issues. In fact, I wouldn't consider buying a used Honda with a V6 and an automatic prior to 2007. But those sort of accusations could be leveled at many companies *cough cough Ford*, so it's not entirely unfair to just single out Honda.

      Admittedly, I come from a time where a car had a big V8 and a two- or three-speed transmission, so my calibration is not necessarily in tune with these new nine-speed jobs. It seems like overkill to me and more to break down, but I acknowledge that's some pretty seriously old-think.

      But again, never apologize for taking the time to shoot the breeze with me. I really appreciate it. So many people don't have a thought or an opinion in their heads, it's a crime. Thanks and cheers to you!

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    10. Seems like I go back and re-read a post and it comes off sounding sour. I'd like to have a RWD for my next DD. The last 3 were FWD and my wife has only had FWD (except for the Pinto she had in college). We can get away with RWD here in Seattle. Contrary to popular belief you don't need 4WD Abrams tank for the 2 or 3 snow days here...

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    11. I agree with Gianni regarding the Honda focus shifting from fun, economical little cars to "meh". I think with the Civic, it all went downhill after MY 2000. They switched to using MacPherson strut assemblies up front, in place of the double wishbone setups used since 1988. Cutting costs, they cut the fun factor as well. New for 2019, the Civic Si, featuring live rear axle! Shivers...

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    12. Precisely! And it's not like folks are going rallying. RWD def makes sense to me in areas that don't get any or the rare snow. If I had my druthers, I'd always buy RWD. But it doesn't make sense for the reasons you well know. And for most people, it's much safer. The front washing out has saved more people in cars that I've been a passenger in than I'd like to think about. It's hard for us hardcore enthusiasts to remember sometimes that 99% of all drivers on the road are not focused on Job #1, the actual act of driving and safer is better, even if it's an "inferior" driving-wheel setup.

      I'd rather have a crabby (it wasn't) conversation with you than none at all. It's not like I can't be accused of the same thing at times! DT holds no interest for me if I'm just spouting off to myself. Conversation is KING. If I can't learn something new there's no point and I can't do that if I operate in a private bubble. To stop learning is to die, in my opinion.

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    13. I think maybe some of the Honda "bloat" (and pretty much every car nowadays) comes from the height of the hood. Obviously, that has to do with today's regulations and safety issues. But if your eye is calibrated to the 90s, that's going to look odd, no doubt.

      The length of these vehicles has also increased too, there's no arguing that. But it's that hood height that I think we pick up on almost subliminally and our reptile mind thinks, "I can't see the extremes so that means I can't place it into corners as accurately as I'd like." Well, at least my brain does.

      Alternatively, if your eyes are used to 50s-60s-70s American beast-cars, these things look like toys!

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    14. Most models have moved upmarket. Sentra, Civic, Corolla are all larger than they were. This opens up a new slot for the subcompact; cue the Versa, Fit and Yaris.

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    15. I'm larger than I was when I was younger. Am I no good any longer, too?

      -K2 Mystery Car aka Dave Jonas

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    16. Gotta hand it to the Mazda engineers, I was much thinner 25 years ago...

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/va7vs5Y.jpg?1[/img]

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    17. +1! There have been plenty of cars that have done so, of course. But I'm not going doing that path.

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    18. Ah, that didn't come out right. Gotta hand it to the Mazda engineers keeping the ND within a couple hundred pounds of the NA and pretty much the same size. I wish I was still the same weight I was 25 years ago. The new ND makes the GT86/FRS/BRZ look like a Suburban.

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    19. I found this image VERY interesting. Again, the element that really jumps out at me is the height of the hood.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/AKgBYBn.jpg?1[/img]

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    20. A rough visual reference.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/KkMYQ4C.jpg[/img]

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  3. Datsun 510: Proof an economy car doesn't have to suck.

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    1. And darn NIssan for teasing us with the IDX!

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    2. A perfect example, TRDsmith. Thanks for pouring salt into the wound, Gianni.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. I recently drove a Veloster for 3 days and was seriously impressed. I think you can really load these things up with all sorts of gadgets and drive the price sky-high, but a base car is pretty freakin' fantastic in my book. I drove the turbo, so I'm sure it wasn't one of the cheaper ones and it was filled with all sorts of doodads. Get rid of that stuff and it's still a econocar for enthusiasts and asymmetrical wackos.

      I like being able to delete and fix typos!!!!!!

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  4. I still remember well the "on rails" cornering when I first got behind the wheel of an SH.
    It's front diff performed the Torque Vectoring that is so common in performance cars today.
    Last year I sold my Integra GS, and I have an eye out for one of these Preludes still.

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    1. I think you may need medical attention for that, Cynical. I'm pretty sure it will alter your peripheral vision. But I'm no doctor nor do I play one on TV.

      But if you end up buying an SH, you must tell us all about it!

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