Shed Of The Week: Honda Prelude

Musically speaking, a prelude is something that comes before the main event. For Shed, as he walks uncertainly towards the bedroom, it's something to fear.

Mrs Shed has had the odd dalliance with the odd musician, and she still likes to practice her fingering in the orchestra stalls every now and then. Shed, for his part, very much prefers the other sort of Prelude, the one built by Honda between 1978 and 2001.

1978! How many of you were even alive in the year that Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by a man wielding a poisonous umbrella, drumming wild man Keith Moon died, and Rod Stewart asked if we thought he was sexy. Admittedly, the fourth-gen Prelude first appeared a bit later, in 1991, the year in which the internet started. Yes, you read that right. If it wasn't for 1991 none of us would be sitting here reading this.

In an otherwise slabby Prelude history, the Gen 4 car was a refreshingly curvaceous interlude. Which raises the question, why did Honda never make an Interlude? Looking at it now, in a landscape blighted by boxy SUVs, Preludes of this vintage present an attractive and different profile. They're a good drive too. Believe it or not they used a Prelude as the Safety Car for the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix, so it's even got a motorsport pedigree.

OK, maybe that's pushing it a bit, but they did do a handy 190hp VTEC model. All right already, so our Shed is the entry-level 158hp 2.3-litre Si with cloth seats and a 4-speed auto box. But it did have a manual shift feature and a great dash design with cool blue instrument lighting.

Yes, the Gen 4 brought an end to the era of pop-up Prelude headlights. But let's get away from these pesky facts, which are all Tim Berners-Lee's fault. Let's look at what you get in a 1993 Prelude, 24 years later in 2017.

Well, you'll get that smart coupe styling, a degree of mini-barge comfort and with any luck a whole heap of Honda reliability. Lord knows the seller of this one has gone a long way in his 10-year ownership to set you up, as he doesn't seem to have been one of the many lucky Prelude owners. He tells us he holds a full service history and bills dating right back to 1994. There have been a lot of them, but he has persevered manfully through thick and thin. You could be the beneficiary of his investment.

What can go wrong? Well, reading the ad will give you a good line on that, as a lot of it seems to have gone wrong already, and has been fixed. The auto gearboxes in the Gen 5 cars have a worse reputation than the Gen 4 ones. The driveline in this car is only 80,000 miles old because neither the engine nor gearbox are the same ones it came out of the factory with. 'Only' might seem an odd word for 80K, but relative to the total mileage of 230,000 it's not a bad one. Clearly, this guy has loved his Honda and you feel that his stated reluctance to sell may well be genuine.

Rust on the nearside rear suspension mounting point was sorted in 2014, but the same problem on the other side has been on the advisories list for the last couple of years now so will also need looking at sooner rather than later. A lot of suspension work has been carried out already, including replacements for cracked springs. This is entirely normal for a Prelude. The ABS warning light failed the car in 2012 by not illuminating: now it's illuminating rather too often.

Main relays can give out due to cracking solder. The passage of time can also do for the four-wheel steering control unit. You'll want to check the sunroof for leakage, the base of the rear window for rust and the instruments to make sure they work. On engines over 200L miles old, monitoring the oil level is a must, so it would be good to find out what sort of engine was put in 80,000 miles ago. Presumably it was a recon but hopefully there'll be mileage records for it somewhere. Cambelt replacements are due every 90,000 miles, so again it's worth leafing through the paperwork for that.

This car looks well on the mileage, but even taking into account the history and the fact that there are probably less than two dozen of these running legally on UK roads, £1,000 might still be a bit too rich for an automatic Prelude. Even one that's nearly as old as the internet. But if, like Mrs Shed, you enjoy an occasional tickle in the bargain basement, youcould always try a cheeky offer.

Here's the ad.

230k miles, but engine & gearbox replaced at 150k in 2006. FSH with bills from 1994, MOT's from 1998, current MOT July 2017, Electric windows/mirrors/sunroof, cruise control, ABS, A/C (old system so needs converting), airbag and original alloys. In very good condition inside & out and drives very well. 
Fully serviced in July 2016 and over the past 10 years I have also restored allot of the bodywork, paintwork, replaced the exhaust system, radiator, discs, battery, alternator and cam-belt twice, spending over £7k.
The electric aerial is a bit noisy & the ABS light comes on while driving, but resets when the car is re-started, so not an MOT failure. Replaced the O/S/R ABS sensor recently after eventually sourcing one, but it seems the ABS pump needs reconditioning or replacing soon?
I have no garage or time on my hands anymore, so the car needs a new enthusiast who is interested in continuing the restoration and its transformation to former glory for what is now becoming a rare Honda classic.


P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (38) Join the discussion on the forum

  • mrpenks 14 Apr 2017

    Erm, how much? You've got to be kidding?

  • rich23 14 Apr 2017

    I always quite liked the look of these growing up and appreciate LJK Setright's views on the Prelude, but a grand for a 24 year old auto Honda with 230k miles? I don't even...

  • morgrp 14 Apr 2017

    Money pit - no thank you - not even the decent 2.2 vtec lump

  • samoht 14 Apr 2017

    Love the look of these, but with the lesser engine, auto box, and those faults, I can't help thinking this wouldn't be the best starting point.

    Sounds like an honest ad, but as with many long-term caring owners, they have a slightly unrealistic expectation of what their car is worth.

  • s m 14 Apr 2017

    I'd rather stick with last week's ST170

    Wonder what happened to the engine - neglect? - must be hard to kill a Honda lump with an autobox surely?

View all comments in the forums Make a comment