(first posted 1/15/2012) Paradoxically, my only experience with Quaaludes was highly memorable. Yet I struggle to elicit any memories of my only drive in a Honda Quaalude. Or did I just dream that (the drive)? So just how did this Honda get that nickname anyway? Well, let’s just say that Quaaludes have more than one effect, and while the Prelude may well have induced sleep, its fairly unlikely that it was ever very successful as an aphrodisiac. I’ve certainly never heard it referred to as the Honda Viagra, despite its close ties to the Honda/Acura Vigor.
What an unfortunate nickname this car earned given Honda’s long pedigree in making truly exciting sports cars, both both before and after the gen1 Prelude. The little front-engine RWD S600 screamer was a giant killer, and later Preludes could most definitely get the blood flowing in the right members. But Honda’s first shot at a FWD sports coupe missed the mark, at least with the enthusiasts who were hoping for more. Sure, as a reliable, economical and nicely screwed-together alternative to a Buick Skyhawk or its ilk, it was the cat’s meow. As a sporty car, it was a snooze.
The Prelude was a highly pragmatic move on Honda’s part to expand into the then large and lucrative sporty coupe market. The Celica was making hay, and Nissan’s latest 200SX (Silvia) was catching too. Honda took the longer wheelbase platform of the yet-to-be released the gen2 Civic sedan and wagon, messed around a bit (way too little) with the suspension pieces and settings, threw in the Accord’s 1750 cc CVCC four and transmission, and wrapped it in a body that was looked exactly like what it was: a cross between the Accord and the Civic, where the clay model was set in front of a misting fan.
The result was, well…forgettable. Not really bad or truly ugly, and actually a perfectly typical Honda, in most ways, but it just didn’t exactly click. The Celica of the times was a huge hit. But then it was styled in Southern California. It was all too painfully obvious that the Prelude wasn’t. And 75 hp was even a bit modest for the times. DOHC, 16 valves and V-TEC were still a Quaalude-induced dream away. This was Honda’s mild-mannered era.
That’s not to say that the gen1 Prelude was an actual dud; it sold some 172k units in the US alone. And it got its share of love: “It is,” wrote Brock Yates “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.”
Truly exciting sporty cars were never meant to have a “sane measurement” applied anyway; they’re insane by their nature. So Brock’s words were a classic example of damming with faint praise, I assume or hope.
But it does give an idea of the high esteem Hondas were being held in at the time. Given that it coincides with Detroit’s low point, valley, flat desert of generally poor build quality, Honda was the calming sedative that plenty of folks were happily swilling after one too many poisonous Vegas or Skyhawks. Boring was a welcome relief from the excitement of blown engines and such for all too many. The Prelude may have disappointed the enthusiasts, but it was just what 172k Americans were looking for.
But Honda got the message, and the Prelude’s successor was quite another drug all together. Well, not exactly a hit of crystal meth, but it at least moved the pharmacological category out of the sedatives and into the stimulants, even if they were still fairly mild. But then serious excitement was only a Gold Top swap away.
For those that might ask why snoozers like this end up on CC, I did commit to covering every Honda car chronologically, instead of the usual randomness. And in its boring way, the Prelude was an important milestone for the evolution of that car and Honda overall. Now wake up, please!
Actually, this is a refreshing morning-after pain reliever for the queasy feelings I got from the new Hondas/Acuras at the Boston auto show yesterday. The Fit seems like the only one that just nails the fundamentals, the way all Hondas used to.
+1. Sad to say, having driven all of Honda’s current lineup bar the ’12 CR-V and Odyssey, the Fit is the only one that still feels like a Honda.
Not sure about the current gen Fit, but the previous gen was my fav Honda at the time.
I’d have to say my fav current Honda is the Accord.
I agree, Honda has its mojo back and it started w/ the 2013 Accord, esp the Sport w/ the best in class (industry?) 6 sp manual.
My folks bought my younger sister one of these brand new for her first car when she turned sixteen. It was maroon, with an automatic. She loved it; it was one of THE “chick cars” to have at the time if you were in high school. I had a mildly breathed-on Ford Fiesta as my main ride at the time, and as was my wont with any “new” or unfamiliar car I had access to, when I had the opportunity to wring it out I did. In her Quaalude’s case, it was one fall night, on the winding, hilly “road course” in the Forest Lawn Cemetery north of town. Tore through that place in sis’ ‘lude like a (tire) screaming banshee. The auto tranny dampened what little fun there was to be had with that motor, but it still revved pretty good, and there was some semblance of handling in that under-damped and -tired chassis. Drove it a few more times now and then until I graduated and went off the college, but that memorable night waking the dead in sis’ brand new maroon Quaalude will always be….memorable.
I vaguely remember these; I recall that the Volvo 1800/2000 tractor-type pushrod engines felt a lot more peppy than the OHC engines in these.
Subject car looks like it’s been tapped on the left rear enough to bend the car.
Snoozemobliles, I can’t understand the fascination that the younger gen has with Hondas around here. What person in thier right mind would not prefer a GTO or a Camaro?
Play station/Fast and Fatuous is all rice grinders
Bryce, that comment of yours is built on ignorance.
Teenagers can generally only afford to run cars from the previous decade. Older, and parts are too rare and expensive and the gas costs too much. Newer, and purchase and insurance costs are too high.
In the 1990s, that meant a young enthusiast’s choice was between high-tech, brilliant-handling Prelude Sis and similarly ambitious ’80s Japanese rivals, or creaky ’80s Mustangs, creakier GM F-bodies, or wayward front-drive K-cars. In that context, it isn’t too hard to see how easily Gen Y formed those allegiances.
Some people simply have no interest in a HUGE large displacement car.
And frankly i refuse to own anything American thats on wheels 😛
My Camero, My Monte, And my Mustang wouldnt have a candles chance in a hurricane in the corners against the MR2 i have now. There is simply no enjoyment to those who like to do more than go in a straight line. V8s and big body muscle cars just lack the excitment of a tight handling sub compact ripping through the tight curving back roads of america. WHO CARES ABOUT A 9 SEC 1/4 MILE PASS WHEN YOU CANT TAKE A TURN AT 30!!!!!
I can see why someone from “the younger gen” would want a newer Honda, less so their older rust-prone tin boxes.
These Preludes were the ultimate chick cars of the era. In the 1970s it was often said, where I lived anyway, that “Independent chicks drive Rabbits.” Well, after their Rabbits fell apart and otherwise dissolved into rust heaps, something had to replace them. It seemed to me that the Prelude was just the ticket for a non-car person to try to look a little cool; and let’s remember, these cars were not, I repeat, not cheap. Most were bought in my hometown of Victoria by government workers, people who could float big car loans. It was not as easy to borrow money in those days and the rates astronomically high.
I get a kick of the “Honda has lost its way” blather all over the internet. The in 1980s, Honda was heads above anything else on the market and their prices reflected it, too. Honda was never about the “stiffly starched silk scarf and shift lever that falls easily to hand.” They were about good value for money. Thing is, thirty years ago, Hondas were so much better than anything else on the market they were worth the extra money. Nobody bought a 1980 Civic to do a fourteen second quarter mile. I want to hurl every time I hear about the CRX; hardly anybody ever bought one, they were never big sellers and in today’s market demographics, they would sell hardly a one.
Fast forward thirty years; Hondas have never been cheaper than they are now. Not only that, they have loads of competition that they simply did not have in the past. The still sell loads of cars and they are very good cars. Are they perfect? No they are not, and they have never been. I choose the cars for my family, well me and my mechanic nephew. We are therefore a family of Honda cars and Toyota trucks. And you know what? All the Honda car owners, myself, my sister, nieces, love their cars and they go out and buy new Hondas to replace them, too.
Micheal, not everybody wants a Camaro and the gasoline and insurance costs that go with them. Many people want a reliable car that is economical to own and drives well. My 25 year old niece bought a 2012 Civic. On her salary there is no way she can afford to run a GTO. The younger generation likes Hondas because they are safe, reliable, nice to dive and have good resale. I like them for exactly the same reason, although I have moved on to Acura.
Can’t speak for the other blatherers out there, but I was only expressing a personal opinion of the company’s current styling themes. 🙂 To my eye, they had been consistently elegant for decades, and then at some point, the firm seemed to have picked up some ex-Pontiac designers. Your generation of TL is quite a bit more handsome than the current one, I think, but to your point, I’ve never driven either, so I have no opinion on their engineering.
Kind of agree with you on Honda styling. By all accounts still great cars, but when the ‘fat-arse’ Accord appeared a few years back, it struck me that middle age was affecting more than just the typical Honda customer :).
I haven’t seen one of these in years. I love that styling that punches me in the forehead and leaves a scar that reads like this: “HONDA”. The new Civics and Accords look like Toyota Camrys (I said Civics and Accords because that what this Prelude was like). I love those old unmistakable Hondas. There simple, solid engineering is as good as that in the Ford Model A.
Around here they weren’t really a “chick car” I saw a number of guys driving them too. The key difference in the power train from the Accord was the dual carbs, what a nightmare. They made an already cramped vacuum hose packed engine compartment even worse. I think these were the last cars to be sold in the US with dual carbs. But Honda at the time was married to carbs as other mfgs like Ford and GM were introducing proper EFI.
There arent many of the early Preludes about here now and the last ones Ive seen for sale were for moonbeam money but being sold by boyracers who seem to think any Honda is a sports machine,too much play station, or fast and fatuous, they arent lots of them are just like these competent reliable and boring andf many drivers with their hat on backwards are surprised when their fartcan equipped ricer gets left behind in corners by the grey beard in the hatch back with the strange sargents stripes on it.
One of the reasons you don’t see many of these around anymore is that most of them disappeared in a cloud of (red) dust. Rust. The Japanese didn’t have much appreciation of rust control. My next door neighbor had one that she loved, but it rusted away rather prematurely. She replaced it with a newer version.
Japanese owners pay more as cars age for registration so old cars are scrapped or nowdays exported to 3rd world countries so rust protection wasnt a high priority back then. Now Japanese cars do not rust ever
Owners of current non-badge engineered Mazdas and a number of models of Hondas, in particular the Element will disagree that Japanese cars don’t rust.
Could be they dont use galvanised panels on US models to get the price down.
I’ve yet to see a spot of rust on an Element, and I’ve a friend in Charlottesville, Virginia who has one of the first ones. When it snows there, they dump enough salt that all the cars are white when the snow melts. I know that Mazdas rust, and I’ve certainly seen rusty Hondas from as recently as about 1993, but 2003 Elements? Where?
I cannot say that I have seen a rusty Element either.
Japan + California was perfect: No rust protection in Japan, but no rust in Calif. either. Ironic that Japanese cars here proved very durable even though they had no incentive back home to make them so.
I remember when these were pretty plentiful, as were the 2nd generation Civics at the time but now? Hardly see either, even in Seattle as most by now have been used up and are now being crushed or have long since been crushed into new appliances etc. In fact, I almost never see the first gen Civics anymore but they DO pop up every now and then and when they do and especially if in nice shape, I have to do a double take.
I drove a 1983 1500cc DX Civic hatchback with the 5spd manual between 1992-1998 and loved it, was it fast, no, it was a car that begged to be driven as quickly as possible and yes, it WAS fun to drive it that way, but if you drive in way less than like a mad banshee, it’d not be nearly as fun.
As the old saying goes, it’s MUCH more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.
Your photocar has the later instrument cluster – I remember the early ones had a “Speedo within a Tachometer” or maybe it was the other way around, anyway, you had two dials in the same piece of real estate. Another one of those wacky but interesting things that obviously didn’t catch on…
Also the strange radio controls on the right side of the binnacle-I’m sure that aftermarket stereo manufacturers loved that.
Oh yeah! I forgot about that. I seem to recall that later preludes (Gen. 3? had that as well but could be mistaken)
It’s funny I was thinking about that kind of thing last year when I had a newer Civic – how could I replace the radio as it is totally integrated into the dash like a lot of newer cars are. It turned out there was a non-US version of the dash that had a DIN-size hole and that the part was available to convert the US version to that other version for not very much money in the grand scheme of things. I never did it, but it was interesting to find.
I really do miss the bordello-red interiors! SO much more personality than today’s grays, blacks, and tans in mass-market offerings.
Frankly, I never understood this car.
The misers bought Civics. Those with a little more coin, former Civic owners (the ones whose rides didn’t rot away underneath them) and the better-heeled young, bought Accords. Well, who was THIS for?
I never really found the answer, because it didn’t seem to sell well in my neck of the woods. Or, more likely, it was so bland and undistinguished, it melted into the scenery, and I never noticed the driver.
Even the best businesses have a few strikes. Honda is no exception. That it’s remembered, if not fondly, then with respect, shows that even on a bad day Honda was a cut above.
Hey, I’m a guy and I had one of these… royal blue with white interior ’81. A great car when we were a couple but when our first child came along, not so much.
To get his (in those days very large) backward facing car seat into the back required moving the passenger seat all the way forward and then folded forward. Then the car seat was lowered through the sunroof. Then to get the kid in you had to go into the back seat from the driver’s side and strap him in. And, of course, a white interior and a kid aren’t a good combination.
There were a lot of guys driving these back in the day. Mine was traded for an ’86 4 door Acura Legend. That car was a real step up.
It’s too bad this wasn’t a 78 with the trippy original dash with the built in radio like this one
or http://www.japanesesportcars.com/photos/d/132084-2/1978-honda-prelude-2.jpg if embed fails. This is a RHD model but the US ones were just the same in LHD.
I luv that dash.
Though, the early Preludes with the small round reflectors used on the rear tail lights looked tacked-on, and thought it an improvement when they changed the reflector shape.
I actually drove back home Christmas Day to find this Prelude in front of the Neighbors house. So indeed it is a Christmas Day find. It floats around Emeryville, and I had forgotten about it until I was clearing out holiday photos.
I always kinda looked at these like Hondas interpretation of the Mustang concept, take a bread and butter car, like the Civic, and a sportier body and ta-dah, a Prelude. Though I do remember them being called the Honda Quaalude by many. My cousin did have the next generation Prelude with the pop-up lights, I always liked the glass sunroof.
To me the early Preludes sort of reminded me of mini-personal luxury coupes more than sport coupes
Just bought a very clean ’82 Prelude. I remember these cars as a teenager and always thoughts they had a certain class to them. From an era when Honda was hitting its stride in the US market and keeping it simple was Honda’s M.O.
Frankly, I love the car. It’s not the most powerful thing on the road — but it’s a fun car to scoot around in. It’s survived in amazing condition for 30 years and the doors thunk with a solidity not seen this side of many modern cars.
If you look at some of the old ads and videos on YouTube, it’s clear Honda was not looking at this as a “sports” car. True, later versions lived up to the sporty name, but this was more of a “sporty” cruiser car. To that end, nothing feels much better than opening up the huge sunroof on a sunny spring day and taking it out for a drive. I’ve seen someone refer to it as a Japanese Karmann Ghia and perhaps that is the best analogy.
I am a guy and I owned a 1980 Prelude. It was a burnt rust color with tan interior. It was a 5-speed and to this day I drive a Honda with a 5-speed because of this car. My father bought it for me used in 1984; it had about 70,000 miles on it and I remember telling him I thought it was high mileage! I didn’t know about Hondas then! I gave up my sister’s hand-me-down 1977 Mustang II 4-cylinder that was constantly being repaired for one reason or another. And I didn’t miss that Mustang at all. My Prelude was a fantastic car. It was way ahead of it’s time, with the electric moonroof, unique radio controls and speedometer/tachometer in one. I loved it…unfortunately one day driving home from college an older lady in a brand new 1987 Cavalier hit me broadside at a red light and that was the end of the Prelude. I never forgot that car; and having owned a few American cars I have always gone back to Honda. I now have a 1996 Accord LX 5-speed with 226,000 miles and it still drives like a new car. My wife drives a 2002 CR-V and we love it too. We replaced a 1993 Accord EX 5-speed wagon that was simply rusting out too much. We would have kept it as it too drove like new with 220,000 miles! So my love of Hondas began with my 1980 Prelude. And for that I thank my Dad.
Former 2nd owner of a ’93 Accord EX wagon with a 5-speed and fellow guy Old Honda lover here. Bought the ’93 from the original owner in ’05 with 192K and a complete service history. Fantastic car, great MPG’s and excellent reliability. It too had bad rust issues in the rear quarters that had been “fixed” before we bought it, but even then it was still a damn good car. Finally sold it to my mom last year, as she badly needed a car, and we inherited an ’05 Scion xB that only had 40K on it. The Accord has over 241K on it, and it still goes like a scalded dog. Drove it recently to take it in for a clutch job and wished I still owned it; I’d forgotten how great it ran and how well paired the 4cyl. + the 5 speed were. My 1st Honda was an high mileage ’86 Accord fastback, purchased after totaling a ’94 Beretta GT in late 2001. It was rough and ready, and sold me on Hondas ever after. Not too sure about the newer ones, but I still have an ’87 Accord Lxi that only has 100K which I love, and also keep an ’82 Windsor blue over tan ‘Lude for summer days. The ‘Lude came from the original California owner in ’04, has only 120K, and is completely documented, original, and stock. I bought my ‘Lude not because I expected it to be a fast race car, but for nostalgia since they were dirt common when I was little and I always liked them.
I’m a guy and I still have the one I bought new in 1979. Original owner. You critics are funny. You want to know we bought this car? Because the alternative was the Chevy Citation or Olds Omega. X Body cars. Also, mine gets nearly 40 mpg. I could drive from Philly to Spokane for under $100 in gas. And did, several times. Yes there are rust issues, but manageable. I kept mine because it was my first new car, and I love it.
I’m a guy and I don’t get why thats important. I may or may not have owned a ’91 ‘Lude I brought off craigslist in 1995 for $1200, had to rip off the fart can stuff. You critics are cute, these cars were DA BOMB back when they were new. Everyone was craving for one! They were so much better than GM crapcan Corvettes and Camaros I could blow them off the line in the rain they even merged for me on the hgighway whenever I’d get on it because 4 cylinders are more dangerous than 8 because 4 plugs are used for the 4 cylinders if one of the plugs slips the cylidwer will goof up and that ‘ll be the end of the engine!
Brock Yates’ quote is the perfect illustration of what I referred to in another thread – about how the buff-books were shills for car companies. The level of enthusiasm for a given model was directly proportional to the advertising budget or potential future advertising of a given company.
GM: Mild but steady. AMC: Tepid but patronizing. Honda: WILDLY EXCITED!! NO MATTER the model “tested.”
This is not to denigrate Honda, but this car was an absolute miss and a snoozer. It became a “chick car” and unlike some other early Honda models, it was eagerly allowed to succumb to its natural rust and quickly die off.
I have had many Alfa’s, I still have one (156 v6)
I have (still has) one Honda. A 1986 2.0i (DOHC !) Prelude.
The Honda has a lot of “Alfanes” to it. It’s almost as dynamic.
The Honda never breaks down !
I’ve had an Alfasud, that rusted so quickly, that the engine was stil pretty new, when the chassis broke down, and the electric system suffered from a “non Italian Climate”.
My 155 V6 had no problems.
My 146 1.6TS drank more oil than petrol.
My 156 2.0TS blew the crankshaft
So did my second 156 2.0TS…
My 156 2.5 V6 broke the waterpump (some apparently water soluble Italian plasticimpeller) and overheated bigtime. I’ve just removed the engine for repairs…
The preludes problems?
A defect Hazard switch…!
Oh, and the fact, that it’s imposible to get a new exhaust for it…
I know this was already mentioned but yeah, my favorite thing was the “tach within the speedo” in the gauge cluster (attached). Would love to own one of these cars.
This shows that the 8th-gen Civic wasn’t the 1st case where Honda got “creative” with instrument cluster design. Back in the ’80s, during the hysteria over Japan Inc., pundits used to assert smugly that the Japanese weren’t as inventive as we Americans! Stupid Westerners, we never learn.
The (current) Fiat 500 had a similar design, although they scrapped it with the latest refresh… big mistake, IMO – this was one of its coolest features!!
I still have mine. Original 35+ year owner, black with red interior, 5 speed manual. Tach inside speedo. Working original radio with dealer cassette option, and oem body side moldings, mudflaps and floor mats. Mostly a garage queen now but I still love it. Only wish I’d never swapped engines in the 80s.
One auto reviewer memorably asked, “But a prelude to what?” I suppose the answer should be, “Greater sales.” Anyway, that didn’t stop my sister from getting one to replace her hand-me-down ’75 Civic hatchback, which got T-boned by a cyclist at UCSB, so here’s another instance of the “Chick’s Car.” Later, reflecting her career trajectory, she got a Benz C-class, which gave her trouble.
Our neighbor recently traded her Accord for an E-class Benz, so this seems a common (if not altogether prudent) migration path. Nice car, but I’m afraid to ask how it’s treating her.
Amazing how unsporty it came out. If they had just put a vinyl top on it, it might have earned a deadly sin honor/scarlet letter. I am kind of glad some of you don’t like it. Shows you make an independent judgment and not just drink the koolaide. They must have been very profitable with the Civic roots and north of Accord pricing. Think the similar generation Corolla SR5 might have been better looking and a little cheaper and check the same boxes for import buyers.
Granted the Prelude was a bit of humbug, but it goes to show how a little market credibility can go a long way.
To their credit, Honda got to work and the next one was better, to me best of the Preludes.
Yup, Honda exemplified Japan’s willingness to learn & improve. “Do your best!” is a cliché in Asian dramas.
My sister had a few years old maroon example stick shift version complete with bordello red interior. She liked it and it served her well with minimal repairs. Don’t recall if her Lude was the Cosby edition. Was the Accord so named because it’s crush zone folded up like the bellows of an accordion in a collision?
No all the safety engineers were in accord to not talk about that. Just kidding of course.
Even I’ve been guilty of calling the Honda Prelude, the Honda Quaalude, or Squanda Qualude. I don’t know why. It’s not fair, really. I’ve known plenty of people who have owned Honda Preludes and loved driving them.
I test drove one of these while I had a 1st gen Accord and they were nearly identical from behind the steering wheel; in fact I had always just assumed it was the Accord’s chassis shrunken slightly. Even if it isn’t, that’s really what this Prelude was – an Accord Coupe.
Can’t recall the last time I saw one of these.
This first Prelude used to seem so bland. Now compared to the hideous, overblown, and overpriced status symbols they produce it’s a warm bit of nostalgia. I was just thinking that in 1991 Honda was my favorite car brand by a mile and now I can’t even think of one I want.
The thought back then was a half-baked car meant to cash in on the early ’80’s Mustang coupe thing. Or Celicas. A Civic designed on ‘ludes. Not serious agenda back then.
I don’t know how anyone could choose a 1979 Prelude, Celica, or 200SX over a 1979 Mustang or 1979 Chevy Monza. Now, the Celica Supra was nice and certainly worth comparing but in terms of “bang for the buck” the celica supra was not so attractive.
Let’s go back to 1979. A drive in any one of the foreign cars will instantly make you realize how much better these cars were. The American cars had little to no refinement. I know, because I owned a 1977 Mustang II and then a 1980 Prelude. The Prelude was such a great car to drive in comparison. Even the Fox body Mustangs were very crude in comparison. The quality of the foreign cars was far better overall. Not to mention that my Prelude had a factory moonroof standard (which for the times was very unusual) and was great on gas plus reliable as could be. My cousin’s 1979 6-cylinder Mustang Ghia was constantly in the shop for some reason or another. I like Fords and American cars in general, but to say how could someone choose the Japanese brands over the American cars only took one drive and it was a no brainer. Maybe the looks of the Japanese cars weren’t as sharp, but it didn’t matter – they were better built and engineered cars, miles ahead of the American brands, no questions asked.
Agree! My biggest regret back then was choosing the ’81 Escort as my 1st new car & not even considering the Mazda GLC, which was in a different league in terms of engineering & quality despite sharing some technology. My conclusion is, the Japanese were trying hard; Ford was cruising along with “just good enough,” which I think is still an American cultural norm. While there are exceptions, most folks I work with are content with merely getting the job done, not excelling & improving.
And my wife to-be had a Chevette, which she describes as a complete lemon? & sold her on Japanese cars ever since she got her ’86 Camry.
Remember thought where the Japanese excelled at the time was basic 4 cylinder stick shifts. Their engines lacked the torque to cope with automatics and A/C and keep their verve. This at the time limited the appeal to those few that wanted a small manual car.
By the time the Accord and Camry took the top of the sales chart years later they were much larger cars with 4sp autos to cover the torque deficits.
When the Prelude debuted, the Hondamatic was still a 2sp and the AC was a dealer installed crapshoot.
I understood even then that an automatic in •any• small 4-banger car is problematic, so no way back then would I buy an automatic small car. Things are better now, but I still get impatient with my 8th-gen Civic’s 5-spd auto, which I got only so my wife can drive it safely. Other things being equal, I prefer stick.
Lets see…a 79 mustang available with a 5.0L V8 and power everything and it will get up and GO!
a similar vintage Monza available with a 5.7L V8 and power everything and it will get up and GO!
underpowered under optioned Japanese cars that rust faster than you can say “rust”.
A fairly nice Celica Supra with a nice inline six that costs more than the above mentioned Monza and Mustang and the dealer absolutely will not budge on the price.
Yeah…go with the Datsahondoyota
I never said anything about a 77 mustang.
I bought a brand new 1985 Prelude. It may have been my best car. NOTHING but the AC compressor broke and that only broke every 70,000mi. I needed a new compressor at 70Kmi, 140Kmi and it was dead when I received a bad radiator nad it melted down at 208,000mi and I bought a used 1991 Prelude in 1995 (but that one had the aluminum engine and used a LOT of oil).
Haven’t seen a 1st-gen Prelude in ages, and my opinion seems to be the same: good-looking from some angles, odd-looking from others. And apparently something of a snoozefest overall. Think I’d rather have an Accord hatch–better-looking, more interior room, and essentially the same engine.
Now the 2nd-gen Prelude–there, they were onto something.
I liked them cars when they were new but the 2 door hatchback Accord seemed sportier to me back in the day
I knew a good looking, square jawed ex-jock marketing manager in his early ’50s who bought a navy blue first gen Prelude. It did not hurt his success with the opposite gender at all. It was the auto version of a tasseled Italian shoe… stylish, comfortable and light boned, designed for dancing, not for running. He loved it. This was a drive that represented for the guy who doesn’t need to haul anything around because the kids are grown, the ex has remarried, and there are people he pays to take care of his condo. At the time, they were considered expensive for what you got in performance, but it wasn’t the point. I recall marveling at the tiny greenhouse these cars had. In some ways, their place in the world was that of a deluxe club coupe from the ’40s with moderate power, re-skinned for an era of expensive fuel.
I think you’ve captured the driving character of this car VERY nicely. It was light, nimble, quick enough — driving as dancing. And a good-looking car, I still think.
Unfortunately, electrical system in ours was touchy after a few years, and the body was subject to rust perforation — from the outside, which was not under warranty. Ours also had the “TV-tuner” style radio, a pod mounted side-facing knob deal on the right of the instrument cluster. It failed almost immediately, was replaced twice, and then Honda supplied a dash mount in its place.
So, lovely to drive, but several fails on the details. For me, Honda still means “had one, never do again.” Luckily, the ex got stuck with it.
It certainly IS a chick’s car; I once had an affair with a 22 year old who drove one of these back in 1979. My wife would occasionally see the exact Prelude in town while we driving somewhere, and comment on how much she liked them. Little did she know.
I had one in the 90’s, I delivered pizza with it. Short wheelbase, manuverable, and peppy made it well suited to that job. Eventually I lost 3rd gear, and some others were going apparently it was a common problem so instead of paying $500 to fix it, I bought a 280zx instead. I delivered in the 280zx for a little bit, but sold the z to fix the Prelude since the Prelude was faster for deliveries. The raw speed of the Z was not as important for delivering as much as the Preludes ease of getting in and out, turning around, getting moving in the snow, and cheaper gas.
It weighed less than a ton which made taxes cheaper and also meant it didn’t need power steering or much power under the hood. It’s 500lbs lighter than a CR-Z or a Fit
I had one of these, an 81 in the dark blue color, with “ivory” interior. 5-speed with AC. This is is the sort of car I really wish there was being made today-light, nimble, fun to drive, decent MPG, everything seems to be too big, too many electronic gadgets (am I the only person who HATES touch screens?) I got my Prelude after having myriad problems with my 84 Ford EXP (think “Escort with no back seat”) and the Prelude felt much faster, a lot more fun to drive, and got better MPG. The GIANT sunroof was great, too. My Prelude did end up as kind of a disaster though-every panel on it had at least one rust hole, I had a lot of electrical problems and every single part of the cooling system broke one part at a time, and I was living 35 miles from the nearest place that would work on Hondas so it went away. It was a lot of fun, though.