In private life, Leonard John Kensell Setright was an epicure, a fine singer, and a concert-standard clarinettist. In public, or as near to public as he got, you could easily make a case for him as the best motoring writer ever.
Setright was a singular man, quite literally. His daredevil wheelmanship obliged car launch PRs to bend the 'two journos per car' rule, as so few other hacks were brave enough to ride shotgun with him.
The Setright view on what made a good car also tended to separate him from the motley throng of muttering rotters. In 1994 he wrote a story for CAR on what he would buy with the rather random sum of £540,000. Top of the list was a Bristol. Cars two and three were Honda NSXes. Car four was a Japanese-spec, four-wheel-steer Honda Prelude VTEC, "simply because no other car is as nice to drive".
Setright respected Hondas for the ingenuity and quality of their engineering, and for the fact that hardly any of them were diesel-powered. He rated the VTEC engines and the two-phase four-wheel steering that first appeared on Preludes as far back as the late 80s. Nowadays, of course, passive rear-wheel steering is taken for granted.
Honda's final, fifth-gen Prelude (1997-2001) made a commercially-inspired return to the angular look of the 1988-1991 third-gen model. Setright managed to see past the goofy headlights when he signed up for what would be his last personal car, a silver MY99 VTi with a big Pioneer sound system. As far as we know, that car is still being enjoyed by a UK Prelude Forum member.
Here's our Shed, in favoured Setright silver and on offer for a tempting £650.
Even saddled by a near-100kg weight increase over the Mk4 that took it to 1,380kg, this non-VTEC 134hp Mk5 will deliver 125mph, 0-60 in a not too embarrassing 9.2 seconds, and average fuel consumption on the right side of 30mpg.
For ultimate Prelude thrills, there was a Japan-only Type S producing 217hp at a giddy 7,200rpm, but you'll be lucky to spot one of them at Shed money. Here's an affordable alternative from PH Classifieds. It's at the top end of our budget, and it's an auto, but making up for that is the full-fat 2.2i V-TEC 185hp motor that's good for 139mph. Money's been spent, and it's a VTi too. All you'll need to recreate that LJKS feeling is an intellectual approach to motoring and a stick-on ZZ Top beard.
Advert for the manual car is reproduced below:
1997 Honda Prelude 2.0i 2 Door Coupe, Silver, Petrol, Manual. 10 months MOT, 3 months road tax, good condition, cloth interior, sun roof, electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, climate control, alloy wheels, new tyres, power steering, central locking, CD/radio, spare wheel. cambelt recently changed. Well looked after. I've had the car for over 4 years and it's never let me down, just general maintenence which i have receipts for, priced for quick sale.