From R&T’s July 1979 issue, here’s a car that keeps coming up in the Vintage Ads’ posts.
One of the Ads again:
And here’s the Road Test:
A Prelude to what? Broader market coverage, I think. Honda evidently saw demand for poseur sport-coupes, whether they impressed flatcap-wearing enthusiasts or not. Besides, it was still a Honda.
Poseur cars are still with us.
Ironically, the two people I knew that bought these new replaced an Austin Healey and an MGB. They really weren’t poseur sport coupes when comparing the performance and handling to British sports cars that had failed to be updated effectively for over a decade.Second generation Preludes were the opposite of poseur sport coupes. They looked clean and conservative, but handled better than anything else on the market.
Kind of an unfair comparison against obsolete British types; I was thinking more of contemporaries like VW. But I agree, later Preludes, or other Honda models for that matter, were more serious performers.
In 1979, you could buy a new MGB or new Prelude for similar amounts of money, although it wasn’t exactly fair that the British car had only had its performance reduced since its introduction 15 years earlier.
These first-gen Preludes seem to attract a lot of hate. I don’t see why. What’s so bad about an econo-car with a bit of styling pizzaz? I see this as kind of of Japanese Mustang II, except better built.
There was so much negativity against these that Brock Yates, of all people, wrote an article in C&D defending the car.
Honda dipped it’s toe into the sporty coupe pool with this. Positive results were the impetus for the G2 in 1983, which was a game changer.
They must have gotten a lot of bitter complaints over that weird dash, because by 1981 it was much more conventional, including, or especially, the radio.
These were nice cars,a logical move for Honda into the sporty coupe market.However, some of my ex druggie friends refered to them as “Quaaludes”. Hope I spelled that right.
Could I interest you in a Plymouth Valium?
I was lukewarm to these when they came out, but they had grown on me by the time they hit the used car market. Some refer to these as “little Honda SLs” an allusion to the MBZ even though they aren’t convertibles. I think of these as an alternative to a Karmann Ghia, or Volvo P1800 something stylish, but sensible. I agree that the second gen and subsequent were a revelation. These are so beloved by the owners that they drive the wheels off of them. I wouldn’t mind having a clean example, if I could find one.
I owned one, and thought it was a very nice car to drive. The main setback was the rust….and then some more rust. And more.
I would think that these had a reputation similar to that “enjoyed” by some of the early (read 1300 or 1600 engined) Capris, and later, by Miatas. That is “a hair dresser’s car”.
When these were brand new, my co-worker with an X1/9 pulled up next to a Prelude one afternoon. We were amazed that the 2 cars were nearly the same size. I pointed out the “unusual” instrument panel” with it’s gauge within a gauge, fingertip activated turn signal and headlight dimming controls, and oddball radio. He just shrugged, as his Fiat’s controls were a bit….eccentric, too.
Since we’re on the topic of Halloween: these old Preludes used to creep me out when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because they were fairly rare and getting stuck in traffic behind one in the dark once, with those weird taillamps lighting up the whole time. Bad vibes.
What’s all the hate about? I owned a 1980 Prelude and yes it did rust after it was about seven years old, but that car was light years ahead of nearly any of the competition you could buy at the time. It drove and handled like a dream, was as reliable as could be and in my opinion was a great looking little car. I used to get complements on it all the time. Plus I went from the most unrefined car ever – a ’77 Mustang II – to the Prelude. It was like night and day between the two cars. The dash setup was cool and I liked the radio controls where they were.
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