Wednesday, May 20, 2015

8k: Factory-Backed Folly: 1981 Honda Prelude Convertible

Third-party chop jobs would make a fascinating case study. There's the affable Toyota Celica Sunchaser, the polarizing BMW 2002 Baur Targa, and the truly nonsensical AMC Eagle Sundancer. I doubt any of them were financially successful. Honda jumped in during 1978 with its then-new Prelude, and partnered with three design firms, one in California and two in Germany, to turn out a couple hundred factory-backed Solaire convertibles. This is one of 47 models built by Tropic Design in Germany, and it comes with just 16,000 miles on the odo. Find this 1981 Honda Prelude Convertible for sale in Emmett, ID for $7,500 via craigslist. 

The first-generation Prelude came just eight years after Honda's U.S. introduction, in the middle of the 1970s' two-part oil crisis. It used the Accord's SOHC CVCC engine (worth 75 horsepower) on Accord bones (MacPherson strut front and Chapman strut rear) and, at 2,100 pounds, only weighed a little less than an Accord sedan. But it looked cool.

Losing the top required shipping the car from its manufacturing plant in Japan to Tropic Design in Germany before reaching the showroom in the U.S. I'm sure it's heard every joke about airline peanuts at this point. In the next few years, it only put on a few thousand miles before being sold in an estate sale in 1995, which is where most of the sub-par photos seem to be from. Following a mild engine refresh the same year, it's been driven just 20 miles annually, or 0.13 percent of the national average of annual miles driven.

Rare convertible aside, this Prelude must have the least rust of any other 1G Prelude out there. It also has a five-speed manual, so you can shift your own gears while pestering all those Sunchasers and Sundancers littering the roads.

See some factory-backed coachwork for cheap? Email us

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You have now managed to turn up something that I had no clue existed.

    Alas, while I have a certain fondness for Civics of that vintage (a once-upon-a-time girlfriend owned one, I was in my hoon phase and she was sure I was going to kill both of us) the first-generation Quaalude doesn't cut it, even with the hard roof intact.

    The woman I married had a higher threshold of fear, or at least of panic.

    1. Mr kwong, please please dont stop your medication.

  3. Second Generation Convertible:


    Fourth Generation Convertible:


    Yep, it was called the "Me-Edition". Oy vey.

  4. Fleetwood T. BroughamMay 20, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    Interestingly (or not), many successful "factory" convertibles were "third party chop jobs". ASC was responsible for the convertible conversion on all of the Celica convertibles, even the later (and fairly successful) generations.

  5. Actually the estate sale was in 02 and these photos were taken in 09...I now drive it 50 miles a year in grants pass oregon, thank you very much....It will scream past all horses and most mopeds , and its very fun to drive - honk honk


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