Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mint Condition: 1980 Honda Prelude

The first generation Honda Prelude (SN) is a pretty boring car to drive compared to the stuff available today, but back when new it was lauded by the likes of Brock Yates who once wrote in Motor Trend "by any sane measurement, a splendid automobile. The machine, like all Hondas, embodies fabrication that is, in my opinion, surpassed only by the narrowest of margins by Mercedes-Benz. It is a relatively powerful little automobile by anybody's standards." Fast forward 35 years and Mercedes-Benz is no longer a benchmark for anything other than the triumph of brand over sense, but this little Honda is an amazing time capsule.  Find this 1980 Honda Prelude offered for $6,000 in San Francisco, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Safety Fast.

The first thing that really jumps out is how nice the paint looks on this thing -- the color is a cooper that looks super cool, and the paint has aged better than just about everything Honda released in the 1990s. 

The SN Prelude is powered by the Honda EK engine, a 1.8 liter inline 4 cylinder engine, mounted transversely and putting 75 horsepower into the front wheels. This one is unfortunately equipped with an automatic gearbox, which takes it from being a zippy version of a Japanese Mini, to just being another appliance with a cool cooper paint job.

See a better way to drive around in a low mile modern classic?


  1. I didn't even need to look to know this was going to be an automatic. It does not seem to be possible to preserve something like this if it was equipped with a manual gearbox. What does that tell us?

    For one thing, the upcoming autonomous vehicles may very well last forever, since there will be no ham-handed human operator to abuse anything. But since those will, by definition, be soul-less machines, will anyone care in 2050 if they find a mint condition 2021 Handsoff Perfecta stashed away in a barn?

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  3. Imagine trying to get that slushbox up a hill in San Fran! "Ma.....pedal on the right!"

  4. > if they find a mint condition 2021 Handsoff Perfecta stashed away in a barn?

    I'm sorry, sir, your 2021 Handsoff can no longer meet roadway safety standards, we'll give you $500 to scrap it.

  5. As for the Honda Quaalude, they were a comic little chopped-Civic then and it looks no better now. It's kinda like taking a perfectly good Merc E-class and turning it into the CLS.

    "You want two-thirds as much room and half the window area for 30% more money? Sure, we'll do that."

    I guess one could argue that Honda was just ahead of their time. The Civic and the Accord of the day were very nice cars, but the Prelude...nah.

    It got much more interesting later, but trying to build a serious FWD performance coupe is like trying to train a carp for the Tour de France.


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