CHOTW: 1992 Honda Prelude Si
Back when the fourth-generation Honda Prelude arrived in 1992, your hosts here at Totally That Stupid were both driving second-generation 1985 examples, and loving them. We aspired to third-generation ‘Ludes – or first-generation Acura Legend coupes if we were feeling spendy – and these melty interlopers just looked weird. To us, the styling didn’t fit in with other Honda products, featuring a little GM10 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme in the tail lights and an odd nose that would find its way onto the Eagle Vision sedan five years later.
Inside things weren’t much better. Sure, the seats and center console were pure bubble-era Honda perfection, but the dashboard itself was all squashed down, with an odd mix of semi-circular analog and digital instruments. What?
Also, the glass moonroof went away, replaced with a steel panel that retracted outside rather than in.
We weren’t fans at the time, despite how the cars drove, which was also pure Honda perfection. We were much happier campers when the fifth-generation Prelude arrived in 1997 with styling that was clearly an evolution of our beloved second- and third-generation cars.
Thanks to the passage of time and viewed through rose-tinted 20/20 hindsight, we’ve come around to the fourth-generation Prelude. My turning point was reading an article on The Truth About Cars wherein the author flies to Florida to buy a Fresco Blue 1992 Prelude Si and proceeds to drive it back to his home in Tucson, Arizona. I hadn’t really noticed one of these Preludes in a while, and at the time thought the design had aged pretty well.
The examples that survived the Fast and Furious tuning era are now the darlings of Radwood, so today we’re excited to find this almost completely stock moonshot-mile 1992 Prelude for sale in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A southern car its whole life, the Milano red paint shines and the body shows none of the holes northern cars display with sadness. The mirrors are a bit faded, so look closely for signs of a repaint on the sheetmetal. Yes, sheetmetal, despite the seller’s assertion the body is fiberglass. There don’t appear to be any obvious dents or dings, but I’d want to look in the nooks and crannies for signs of Previous Owner Disease. I like how the front bumper appears to have never worn a license plate.
Inside the seats look like those from an example half its age. Even the floor mats look good. There is discoloration on the dashboard and steering wheel, but don’t forget this car is almost 30 years old and lived in a sauna. The gas gauge doesn’t work, and we don’t know if that means it doesn’t read anything or its digital display has failed. Shame about the replacement stereo, but Honda radios from the period are absolutely available.
Mechanically, there isn’t much to know based on the ad, other than the car is, “fast, fun, and loud. Runs great.” Speaking of loud – maybe – those are stock exhaust pipes poking out from under the bumper. Despite nearly unlimited aftermarket exhaust system options, the factory pipes still look the best to these eyes.
And speaking of mechanicals, this car is missing a third pedal. I wasn’t going to bring it up. However, if the pictures don’t make that pretty plain, then the low cost of what appears to be a very clean Prelude certainly will. Swapping to a manual is 100% doable, but will easily double your investment in the car. Worth it? Probably, but you go ahead and let us know how it all works out. I’m sure you’d have it done by spring.
The automatic transmission is a bummer, of course, but we’re still betting on a lot of smiles and no small amount of fun behind the wheel. We also think there’s a lot of life left in this Prelude, despite the high miles, and in a package that has aged better than anyone here expected. That’s a solid Cheap Heap of the Week around these parts.
I still have the 4G Lude on my list of “must own” at some point. Interesting styling comparo – I hadn’t thought of the Vision in that context but now I can’t un-see it! Definitely a worthy project car, even without a third pedal.