Vintage Road & Track Review: 1983 Honda Prelude – “Simply Terrific”

I have been woefully negligent in scanning and posting the hundreds of vintage R&T magazines Lee J. has been sending me, and there’s more on the way! It’s going to end up being a collection from the mid-60s all the way into 1991. So let’s crank up the old scanner and get more of these time capsules posted.

We’ll start with the all-new gen2 Honda Prelude, a major leap forward from its rather bland “Qualude” predecessor. The styling was fresh, the power was boosted by 33%, and the handling was  now best in class, thanks to Honda’s innovative twin A-arm/strut front suspension. It all came together in that inimitable Honda way, making the Prelude the leader of the pack.

Not only were there dynamic improvements, but the new Prelude was larger, with more interior space than the Civic-based predecessor. Styling was admittedly similar to the gen3 Accord, which was of course a good thing.


The new 1829 cc SOHC four had Honda’s latest (and I believe the final one) iteration of its CVCC technology, still using a precombustion chamber to ignite the extra-lean mixture in the main chamber. By now it needed a 2-wat catalytic converter and unleaded gas, and the CVCC technology was running out of steam. But it still worked just fine here, resulting in a very decent 100 hp output and best in class performance, the only one to break the 10 second barrier to sixty (9.7 seconds). Two main Kehin carbs fed the main combustion chamber and a small third carb fed the precombustion chambers. Sounds finicky, but the Japanese were able to still make magic with carbs, although not for too much longer.


The new front suspension, which Honda used extensively in coming years until it finally faded away again for cost reasons, was bench marked against the Porsche 944, and was deemed to be its equal.

The Prelude marked the beginning of “Peak Honda”, a period many will remember fondly.


Here’s CC’s take on this generation of Prelude, by Perry Shoar