When Honda launched the fifth-generation Prelude in 1997, it's fair to say it was not met with universal acclaim. Even at best, it looked boxy and slightly awkward; a far cry from the smooth fourth-gen car with its evil grin and pert profile. Some commentators even compared the glaring headlights and gormless grille of the new car to the recently-revealed Ford Scorpio.
Time, however, is a great healer - or perhaps said commentators were just over-egging the pudding. Either way, to modern eyes the fifth-gen Prelude looks a good deal more handsome than it once did. Trouble is, what with the 90s fad for coupes on a fast ebb when it came out, it wasn't all that popular - indeed, it lived a short life and wasn't replaced in 2001 when the plug was pulled.
Today, that means you just can't find the things. And if you can, they're usually daggy old 2.0-litres or automatic 2.2s with a litany of suspension knocks and rust bubbles and more miles than you'd like. What's super rare is to find a manual 2.2 with low miles - and it's even more unheard of to come across a bona fide Motegi.
The Motegi special edition was based on the post-facelift 2.2, with its H22A engine - yes, the very same that featured in the Accord Type R, although here it kicks out 200hp instead of the ATR's 212. Still, that's more than enough for a sub-seven-second 0-62mph time, and of course, you get all of the high-rev hijinks you might reasonably expect from that powerplant.
In addition, the Motegi got a stiffer, more handling-oriented suspension setup than the standard car's, turning it from a slightly effete poseur into a more serious sporting proposition, and making good use of the sharp turn-in bestowed upon the 2.2-litre Preludes by the the four-wheel-steer system. You also got bigger wheels and a sharper bodykit, resulting in some rather more serious aesthetics. In short, this was a deeply appealing bit of kit.
But if it's so good, why haven't you heard of it? Blame the lack of a Type R badge - because to all intents and purposes, a Prelude Type R was really what the Motegi was. And with prices for real Type Rs on the rise, the £3,495 being asked for this example feels like a bit of a bargain. It's covered just 87,000 miles, comes with a trove of paperwork, and sounds like it's been owned and cherished by an enthusiast. And we reckon it looks absolutely terrific, too - and to hell with what they said in the 1990s. Snap it up while you can - you won't see another like it for a long while - and savour this bubble-beating, rev-happy Honda that nobody's heard of.
SPECIFICATION - HONDA PRELUDE 2.2 VTI MOTEGI
Engine: 2,157cc 4-cyl 16v VTEC
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
Power (hp): 200@7,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 156@5,250rpm
MPG: 28 (NEDC combined)
First registered: 1999
Recorded mileage: 87,000
Price new: £25,035
Yours for: £3,495
See the original advert here.