RE: Shed of the Week: Honda Prelude VTi

RE: Shed of the Week: Honda Prelude VTi

Friday 23rd November 2018

Shed of the Week: Honda Prelude VTi

Gawky and with a hint of rust - but don't let that keep you from first-class Shed



Car rust. Don'tcha just hate it? If you're under 40 or so, the chances are you're not that bothered about motoring corrosion, the industry having done a pretty good job of nailing it down in recent years. Add in the culling effect of MOT tests and it's become rare to see a really rusty car nowadays.

It wasn't always like that. Once, the rust-free model was the unusual one on the road, something to be gazed at in reverential awe at a time when every car, proletarian or posh, would succumb to rust at a worryingly early point in its life.

And make no mistake, the word was when, not if. Shed will never forget the sight of his poor old Dad jacking up his HA Viva on one dismal Saturday afternoon, his idea being to find out just how rotten it was underneath. Unfortunately he never got the view he was seeking as, unbeknownst to him, his bottle jack had gone straight through the Vauxhall's sill and up into the cabin. The memory of it still brings a tear to Shed's eye.


Nobody deserved the amount of bad luck Shed's Dad had with cars. At least he had the good sense to ignore Shed's well-meant but misguided schoolboy advice to buy an alluring but potentially ruinous Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud that had come up for sale at the local dodgy motors r us emporium for under two grand. It wasn't really the right car for a joiner on the lump in the late 1960s.

Anyway, the reason for bringing up all this painful stuff is the brown nobbliness that besmirches the offside rear wheelarch of this week's Shed, an otherwise handsome Honda Prelude VTi. If that wasn't there, we'd be looking at a tempting and quick coupe whose angular styling, against most contemporary expectations - and despite the protestations of fans of the earlier, curvier Gen 4 model - has stood the test of time pretty well. Some will specifically criticise the front-end look: others (including Shed) like the overall shape enough to be able to ignore that localised gawkiness.

One man who also liked the Prelude, not just for its styling but also for its all-round performance, was the late, and to some great, motoring journo LJK Setright. "Deftness, adroitness, sensual gratification, agility, accuracy: all these terms come flooding to mind when trying to explain why this car is nicer to drive than anything else," said the monocled beardy about the Honda, which he used as his personal vehicle.


He particularly admired its "supreme ability to dodge", a function at least in part owed to its 4WS four-wheel steering system, which LJKS reckoned had saved him from "an assortment of accidents involving either errant road-users or things falling off lorries". It certainly gives you a crazy-tight turning circle and incredible manoeuvrability in small spaces.

Indeed, the 4WS system that made its debut in this car distracted attention away from the fact that it was still a front-driver. The actual steering feel wasn't top-notch, and the handling was competent rather than inspiring, but that didn't stop road testers and more committed owners from discovering and exploring the four-wheel drift potential made possible by the 2.2 VTEC engine. As 16-valve fours go, this was one of the good 'uns, combining the top-end rush of smaller VTEC units with the relatively strong flexibility that extra capacity brings.

The MOT on this car (which lasts till the end of next August) makes no mention of structural rust or anything else that might concern the prospective next owner. The only advisory on the ticket was a blown balljoint dust cover. Stuff an owner might have to address at some point may well include worn gearbox synchros (difficulty getting into fifth is a giveaway of wear) and crocked wheel bearings. Replacing them isn't that easy. Oh, and mending the rear wheel arches. They all do that sir.


Cambelts are on an 80k/5 year replacement schedule, and it's not a job you'd want to shirk as the automatic tensioners aren't the strongest. Don't be put off by what may seem like heavyish oil consumption, which can reach something in the order of 1500 miles per pint, as this is normal for the engine. Likewise, don't worry overmuch about the mileage on this car, as they'll take a lot of it without complaint.

Once you've ground away the wheelarch rust and splashed a dollop of paint on any metal that's left, you'll have something that you can either Motegi up (air filter, Mugen exhaust, Konig wheels etc) or simply refresh in the suspension and braking departments and use as a surprisingly practical and comfy four-seat grand tourer. With only around 600 examples still driving in the UK, this car is more than worth saving at Β£750.

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Author
Discussion

Foodfocus

Original Poster:

31 posts

91 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Now this is more like it! Always loved the Prelude, despite the typically dour Japanese interior. Top shed, especially considering these are now becoming pretty rare.

2smoke

76 posts

56 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Very nice, always had a soft spot for these.

oilit

773 posts

123 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
i had the previous version of this - in it's day it was an absolute blast - and felt much quicker than the 405 MI16 I had prior to it !

I loved it - but I sold it as I didn't like the massive thirst for oil it had.

ShampooEfficient

3,714 posts

156 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
My growing up with Gran Turismo means I have a bit of a thing for these. And the previous model (2.2i VTEC in Cobalt Blue being my default first GT car).
Also why I now own an FTO.

dinkel

24,989 posts

203 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Great engines slurp oil. Period.

Eng274

144 posts

56 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
I also quite liked this generation of Prelude, being of the Gran Turismo 2 generation this was a favourite FF vehicle (if I recall correctly there’s was a texture rendering glitch on the leading edge of the bonnet which spoiled its look somewhat..).

I’d happily own one of these, ideally 2.2, to go with my other ageing crusty jap car, the Galant. But it also must have a rear wing; like the mk2 Toyota MR2, the Prelude looks ugly as sin without it IMO.

OpulentBob

10,714 posts

125 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
4ws in these is brilliant. Turn tight and it feels like the handbrake is clicked up a notch or two. I love a Prelude.

Dale487

1,013 posts

68 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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A neighbour of mine had one of these, probably a 2.2, in the TVR style orange flame paint that changed colour with the light as well as a Mugen (real or reproduction) body kit including the under windscreen/top of bonnet spoiler/air dam - still not what you'd call pretty but it wasn't boring.

Arsecati

293 posts

62 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Wow, I was never a fan of these when they came out first. But seeing this now - that is a helluva handsome car! Age has most definitely been kind to it, and that is an absolute bargain of a price - worth every penny and more if you ask me (ok, maybe not more, as you'll need that to sort out the body!). Top shed - if I was in the market, I'd nab this in a heartbeat.

Limpet

3,426 posts

106 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Its predecessor was such a good looking car, both inside and out with that low nose, and the cool electroluminescent instruments.

I remember being appalled when this was launched at just how bland and dull it looked compared to what it replaced, but doubtless it drives well, and at shed money, it's not quite such a big deal.

Butter Face

19,186 posts

105 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Still a great car and one of my all time favourite that I've owned, massive outside, tiny inside, terrible on fuel and polarising looks, but something very cool about it.

AC43

7,244 posts

153 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Nice. A mate of mine had one of those in the mid-90's when I had my 200SX's. We were trying them all out - those plus Corrado VR6's, 5 pot Fiat Coupe Turbo's etc.

The Prelude was probably the least lairy of the lot when pottering about which made the VTEC rush even funnier.

Great all rounder.

J4CKO

27,996 posts

145 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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That is rather lovely, you can still get an interesting and special kind of car for shed money, nice colour and spec as well, well its a manual with the bigger engine and not one of the more pensioner friendly colours a lot of Preludes seemed to be in.

That rusty arch, a good bodyshop will soon have that sorted, wont be pennies but if the rest is in good order (which is looks to be) its worth doing.






greenarrow

1,720 posts

62 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all

Wow, what a bargain (imminent cam-belt change aside) £750 for a 182 BHP VTEC car. Look at the prices of the Prelude's 1997 rivals, the 200SX and Fiat Coupe Turbo and it makes you appreciate how cheap this is.

Or put it another way, it would appear to do a lot of what the similar era DC2 Integra does (bit slower in a straight-line, softer, heavier, but similar VTEC experience) for about 15% of the price of the cheapest UK DC2s out there! In fact I don't think you'd get that era VTEC engine in anything else this cheap...even the 5 door Civic VTIs are more than a grand these days.

Well done Shed; the second successive week you've found something to silence the moaners and whingers who wanted Shed culled!!

Turbobanana

1,471 posts

146 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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Great Shed, if only for the free Eliminator cassette.

JMF894

2,937 posts

100 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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Great shed

matbat

294 posts

190 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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Cracking Shed!

dukeboy749r

804 posts

155 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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The interior of this shed has aged far less that (for me) similarly aged, even younger (often) German and American cars

yonex

15,082 posts

113 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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Awesome cars, despite the Setright reference wink

marshall100

1,107 posts

146 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Blimey, can't remember the last time I've seen one of these on the road.

Good shed.