The Honda Prelude is among the most refined JDM vehicles that hardly discovered its option to america. Just a few items had been exported to america and Canadian markets. This was geared toward giving consumers a sportier and cheaper choice than what Honda At present supplied in these markets throughout manufacturing time. Nevertheless, just like the Honda Civic, Honda didn’t produce the Prelude below their luxurious unit, Acura, which was the case in different sports activities vehicles such because the Honda Integra and Honda Legend. 

Honda constructed the Prelude to attraction to a youthful technology of drivers. In addition they meant it to be as luxurious as attainable with out shedding its performance and efficiency. Thus, competing towards the Mazda Cosmo, Toyota Celica, and later the Toyota Soarer launched by Toyota to the aggressive Japanese market in 1981. 

Within the late Eighties and Nineties, when each JDM producer was of their golden age, Honda refined the Prelude focusing extra on efficiency. They did this whereas retaining luxurious touches such because the powered sunroof, a typical function even in early manufacturing fashions. This led to the Prelude getting observed by tuners and aftermarket firms in Japan. 

Right now, the Honda Prelude stays a favourite amongst tuners and anybody on the lookout for an affordable, dependable, and neat JDM automotive that they don’t have to interrupt the financial institution to purchase. It’s additionally a typical sighting in automotive exhibits, drift tracks, and drag strips like its larger brother, the Honda Civic. 

Execs and Cons


Exhilarating Driving Expertise

Entrance-wheel-drive vehicles are identified to be sluggish and have poor dealing with, however those that say which have by no means laid their fingers on a Honda, particularly Hondas from the Nineties. Early Honda Prelude mannequin years could be underpowered, however most have the 5-speed guide transmission, a attribute of a correct driver’s automotive. 

Honda made the first-gen Prelude with a entrance impartial suspension to enhance dealing with, guaranteeing all wheels are parallel to the street, even on bumpy roads and when cornering. Later mannequin years manufactured from 1988 have an impartial entrance and rear suspension and higher engine choices than the primary and second gen prelude; thus, they’ve faster acceleration and higher dealing with. 

You can too get the Honda Prelude with all-wheel-steering and a Restricted Slip Differential, that are most typical within the gen-4 and gen-5 Prelude. These guarantee further grip at excessive speeds and on slippery roads throughout winter. The LSD additionally makes it attainable to show the Honda Prelude right into a drift automotive, and a rear-wheel-drive conversion isn’t needed in case you have the talents and the engine makes affordable horsepower figures. 

Within the Nineties, the H-series engine was launched to the Honda Prelude, and fans declare it’s higher than the B-series engine adopted from the Honda Civic. The H-series engines rev to 7400rpm due to the upper piston pace per revolution, which ensures low and high-end torque. 

Straightforward To Modify

Hondas are gradual when inventory, however their engines could be modified to insane energy ranges sufficient to thrash nearly any automotive. You get the Honda Prelude with E-series, A-series, B-series, F-series, and H-series engines. The final three are essentially the most tunable, particularly the H22A1 VTEC engine within the fourth-gen Prelude. 

VTEC is Honda’s variable valve timing expertise, just like Toyota’s VVTi system with two cam profiles. The smaller cam profile permits decrease valve raise at low RPMs, whereas the bigger one permits increased valve raise at excessive RPMs permitting extra air into the cylinder and rising the combustion price. The ECU controls the camshaft; thus, when the bigger cam profile is in use, extra gasoline is injected into the combustion chamber to compensate for extra air. 

H-series engines can deal with a most of 300 horsepower with manufacturing unit internals as they reply higher to bolt-on mods because of the increased displacement. Frequent mods embody quick street or motorsport cams, high-capacity injectors, altering valve durations, chip tuning, and upgrading the gasoline pump. An H22 or H23engine can simply make 700-1000 horsepower with solid internals and compelled induction. 

Comparable upgrades could be performed to F-series and B-series engines, however you received’t get a lot energy out of them just like the H-series engines. The utmost energy you will get out of a Prelude with an F20, f22, B20, or B21 engine with inventory internals is round 250 horsepower with inventory internals and 450 to 500 horsepower with pressured internals and compelled induction. 

Nice Aftermarket Assist

One of many elements that make JDM automotive possession in america straightforward is aftermarket help. The Honda Prelude has sufficient aftermarket help starting from efficiency engine elements and aero-body kits if you wish to remodel your Integra into a gentle avenue racer or weekend drag automotive. It additionally shares most mechanical parts with the Honda Civic, Honda Integra, and different Hondas, making it straightforward to swap manufacturing unit elements or use aftermarket elements for different vehicles. 

Experience Consolation

Honda isn’t identified for making luxurious sports activities vehicles, however they tried to some extent with the Honda Prelude. It’s not as luxurious because the Honda/Acura Legend coupe, nevertheless it has some touches unusual in most JDM sports activities vehicles in its class. For starters, Honda supplied leather-based seats with crimson stitching as customary in some mannequin years, whereas others bought woolen and high quality cloth seats just like these used within the Honda Legend. The entrance seats are well-bolstered and have sufficient legroom and legroom for tall drivers. 

The shift knob, handbrake lever, and guide transmission shifter cowl are lined with leather-based. It may appear regular, however the little issues make driving a sports activities automotive comfy. Door panels on top-of-the-line fashions are additionally lined with leather-based. The powered sunroof additionally turns out to be useful in the course of the summer season!

Nevertheless it’s not solely within the inside that the Honda Prelude wins over most JDM sports activities vehicles. Honda used high-tensile metal to assemble the Honda Prelude’s chassis and light-weight metallic sheets to assemble the physique leading to a well-structured automotive that feels strong to drive. 

Pleasing To Look At

The Honda Prelude is just not a crowd-puller just like the Honda NSX, however you’ll be able to’t miss stopping and admiring one. All mannequin years have a slanting noise merging with a sloping hood, making the Honda Prelude look nice and enhancing aerodynamics. The windscreen lays again a little bit greater than the Honda Integra and blends into the roof, which slants into the brief however curvy brief quarter panel. 

You don’t want any further modifications to make a Honda Prelude stand out in a automotive meet or parking spot in your faculty’s parking zone. In case you purchased the automotive with out the manufacturing unit wing, a neat paint job and a few wheels do greater than sufficient, and possibly a minimalistic wing. 

Upkeep Prices

Repeatedly, JDM vehicles have proved to be essentially the most dependable, no matter being constructed over 20 years in the past, and the Honda Prelude isn’t any exception. Costs could be a little bit increased in comparison with different sports activities vehicles, such because the Mazda Miata, however they’re justifiable for what its able to. However shopping for a automotive is just step one of possession as it’s a must to pay for insurance coverage, fuel, and upkeep, amongst different prices. So, what’s it prefer to personal a Honda Prelude?

Aside from automated transmission failure, there are not any different frequent catastrophic faults that house owners have complained about. Gasoline and oil consumption is common, and there could be oil leaks, however that is frequent in most elderly JDM vehicles, and you may’t anticipate much less of the Honda prelude. A Honda Prelude will simply final greater than 200,000 miles when maintained recurrently and the minor points sorted. Honda Prelude Insurance coverage averages between $1500 and $3000 relying on the mannequin yr and spec. 


Honda Prelude


As a result of high-tensile metal chassis, the Honda Prelude is heavy and strong. It’d look like a non-issue at first, however in comparison with a few of the greatest JDM sports activities vehicles, it’s among the many heaviest, particularly second-gen and third-gen preludes, as some trim ranges weigh near 3000 kilos. 

The burden impacts drivability in a Honda Prelude because it has uneven weight distribution, with the entrance finish being heavier than the remainder of the automotive. Additionally, suspension parts, tires, and brakes put on out faster, and there’s extra work to shed some weight and enhance energy output should you observe a Honda Prelude. 

Low Experience Top

The Honda Prelude has a low journey top which is nice because it improves dealing with and traction and reduces air drag. Nevertheless it places the oil pan and the underside plate, amongst different elements beneath, prone to bodily injury, particularly bottoming out when driving on bumpy roads. Decreasing the automotive, much more, may cause the tires to rub on the fenders, which causes uneven tire put on. 

Frequent Points

H-series Engines Burns and Leak Oil

Previous Hondas are identified to leak and burn oil, and within the Honda Prelude, each points primarily happen in fourth-gen and fifth-gen preludes with H-series engines. The primary reason for oil leakage is the valve cowl gasket which is characterised by oil on the perimeter of the engine and a burning odor when the oil will get to the new exhaust manifold. H-series engines have excessive optimum working temperatures. Thus, the valve cowl gasket has a shorter lifespan than different engines. 

Earlier than changing the valve cowl gasket, verify if there are unfastened bolts on it and tighten them in line with torque necessities. If the oil leak persists, exchange the valve cowl gasket and guarantee it doesn’t stick out when putting the valve cowl on the engine. It’s additionally necessary to verify if the valve cowl is warped or cracked. 

One other frequent reason for oil leaks within the Honda Prelude is the camshaft seal. Just like the valve cowl gasket, oil leaking from the camshaft seal is characterised by a burning odor and smoke when oil lands on the new exhaust manifold. You’ll additionally discover oil beneath the camshaft cowl and on the bottom should you’ve parked in a selected spot for a very long time. Changing the camshaft seal is pointless if there are simply oil spots, however the leak would possibly worsen, affecting reliability attributable to oil hunger. 

If there are oil puddles beneath the automotive away from the engine, your Honda Prelude most likely has a worn-out oil pan gasket or oil filter adaptor seal. Most house owners don’t exchange the oil pan gasket, and it’s prone to put on and tear like different gaskets. There are not any particular intervals for changing the oil pan gasket, however a cork oil pan gasket will last more than a rubber one. 

Additionally, because of the Honda Prelude’s low journey top, the oil pan might need holes and dents that oil leaks by means of, particularly if the automotive is pushed on tough roads. Oil leaking from the oil filter adaptor seal is a straightforward repair, as you solely must tighten the oil filter. You might need used the inaccurate one if oil leaks proceed after tightening. 

Defective Automated Transmission 

Transmission failure is frequent in Honda Preludes with the Sport Shift automated transmission, with most instances reported in fifth gen Preludes. Early indicators of a defective automated transmission in a Honda Prelude embody jerking after partaking the drive and reverse gear, freezing, and slippage. 

From proprietor boards, making an attempt to repair the automated transmission on a Honda Prelude could be a ache within the neck and pocket draining. Thus, most house owners simply let it slowly die however preserve common upkeep to extend its life span whereas trying to find a guide transmission swap.

Honda Prelude


Hondas are a few of the vehicles most prone to rust attributable to their poor construct high quality, amongst different elements. On the Prelude, rust primarily happens on the wheel arches, quarter panels, and physique panels, particularly if there are indicators that the automotive has been repainted earlier than or if the physique panels have mismatched paint. Test for cracks and dents on the paint and faucet the physique panels gently whereas feeling for Bondo. Some house owners fill rust patches with Bondo and paint to promote the automotive, just for the rust to turn into extra profound into the steel. 

Attributable to outdated age, the climate stripping on the tail lights and door seals permits water to seep by means of and accumulate within the spare tire nicely, rear seat, and entrance seat footwells, inflicting rust. Water leaking into the headliner by means of the sunroof climate stripping can also be frequent within the Honda Prelude. It’d trigger electrical faults, the headliner will sag, and water patches will type after the water dries. 

Inside High quality 

You might need discovered the right Honda Prelude, however points equivalent to a disintegrating inside are unavoidable when shopping for a 25-year-old JDM automotive. Attributable to outdated age and fixed use, door locks and handles begin jamming, and it’s a must to open the door from the skin or inside, relying on which facet works. 

Some trim ranges additionally include powered home windows and sunroof, sometimes leaving you protecting the window with paper as the one choice when it rains. Additionally, you’ll not often get a Honda Prelude with cupholders, however such points make JDM automotive possession an thrilling day by day journey!

Common Costs

For round $10,000, you will have a Honda Prelude however a base-spec mannequin or a working challenge automotive that slowly builds to your liking. Mint Preludes promote for figures above $15,000 however not often exceed $30,000 except you purchase somebody’s already-built challenge automotive with tasteful mods.

View Honda Prelude Ads for sale

What To Look For When Shopping for A Honda Prelude

A few elements decide whether or not you should purchase a Honda Prelude. Avoiding excessive mileage Preludes, particularly fifth-gen-preludes with the Sport Shift automated transmission, is advisable. It’s identified to develop points at round 70,00 miles and fail shortly earlier than or after hitting 100,000 miles. On Preludes with a guide transmission, guarantee seamless gear adjustments with out grinding or slippage.

Additionally, it received’t be lengthy earlier than the suspension, powertrain, and drivetrain parts must be changed attributable to put on and tear. Solely purchase a high-mileage Prelude if it’s a strong cut price in comparison with others out there or if it has upgraded parts that may final a number of hundred miles earlier than you should exchange them. 

Inspecting the engine bay ought to be performed after a check drive to verify for fluid leaks, particularly oil leaks on Preludes with H-series engines. Through the check drive, be sure that the fuel, brake, and clutch pedals should not spongy. If shopping for a second-gen or third-gen Prelude, make sure the pop-up headlights work. 

Checking the automotive’s general situation and asking for proof of possession and upkeep data, if obtainable, can also be important. The automotive may appear good at first, however you would possibly spend extra making an attempt to rectify points you could possibly have prevented should you had inspected the automotive totally. 

Comparable Alternate options

Fashions and Specs

1978-1982 Honda Prelude (SN)

1978-1982 Honda Prelude (SN)

Honda started designing the Honda Prelude as early as 1976 based mostly on the Honda Accord and launched it within the Japanese market in 1978, nevertheless it was shorter than the Honda Prelude. Nevertheless, most mechanicals, such because the impartial four-wheel struts, brakes, and engine choices, had been borrowed from the Honda Accord. This was geared toward lowering manufacturing prices to decrease the worth of the automotive, which was one in all Honda’s profitable advertising methods. 

The primary-gen Prelude supplied solely two engine choices: a 1.6-liter SOHC engine and a 1.7-liter CVCC engine coupled to a 2/3-speed automated or 5-speed guide transmission. Few JDM producers supplied the 5-speed guide transmission choice in economic system vehicles within the late Seventies and early Eighties. 

Completely different trim ranges had been supplied with various luxurious options. For instance, the Government trim bought a powered sunroof, AM/FM radio, leather-based seats, and energy steering. The primary-gen Honda Prelude obtained a minor inside facelift on the instrument cluster and the dashboard earlier than being discontinued in 1982.

1982-1987 Honda Prelude (AB, BA, BB)

1982-1987 Honda Prelude (AB, BA, BB)

1982 noticed the introduction of a brand new, extra prolonged platform for the Honda Prelude, which had been conceptualized earlier in 1979, shortly after Honda started manufacturing of the first-gen Prelude. Honda discontinued the engines used within the first-gen and changed them with two 1.8-liter and two 2.0-liter engines. The 5-speed guide transmission was nonetheless in use, however just one automated transmission was supplied within the second-gen Prelude, a 4-speed automated. 

Honda wished the sporty attraction that the first-gen Prelude lacked for the second technology, because it was thought of a sports activities coupe greater than a luxurious coupe. This led to a brand new, streamlined entrance finish with a sloping hood to enhance aerodynamics and a decrease journey top to cut back drag. 

Extra Honda Preludes had been exported to the US and Canadian markets, together with the newly launched Si (Sport Injected) spec, which has the two.0-liter B20A DOHC engine. Different second-gen Honda Prelude trim ranges embody the SE (Particular Version) and 1.8L twin carb.  

1987-1991 Honda Prelude (BA4)

1987-1991 Honda Prelude (BA4)

Some fans will say that the third-gen Prelude is the best-looking technology amongst others, primarily because of the pop-up headlights, and so they could be true. The pop-up headlights on the third-gen Prelude resulted from Honda’s effort to enhance aerodynamics as if the slanting hood and wedged-out entrance finish weren’t sufficient. Because of the design course of, when designing the Honda NSX, the third-gen Prelude bought roof pillars which considerably improved physique rigidity. 

However pop-up headlights and the roof pillars weren’t the one thrilling options that Honda launched within the third-gen Prelude. In 1987 they got here up with a mechanical four-wheel-steering system that used a shaft to attach the entrance steering rack to a slider on the rear axle. 4-wheel-steering was non-compulsory in Preludes bought in all markets, and in 1988 the Honda Prelude grew to become the primary automotive in america with 4WS. 

Transmission choices remained just like those used within the second technology, however Honda discontinued all engine choices besides the two.0-liter B20A DOHC engine. You additionally get the third-gen Prelude with the SOHC variant of the B20A and a 2.1-liter B21A DOHC engine. 

1991-1996 Honda Prelude (EG5, EG6, EG7, EG8, EG9, EH1)

1991-1996 Honda Prelude (EG5, EG6, EG7, EG8, EG9, EH1)

The fourth-gen Honda Prelude was unveiled in Japan in 1998 with F-series and H-series engines to exchange the B-series engines used within the third technology. Honda additionally upgraded the four-wheel-steering system from a mechanical slider to a computer-controlled electrical motor steering the rear wheels. Honda didn’t change the transmission choices however upgraded the 5-speed guide transmission with a brief throw shifter. 

Base spec variants have SOHC and DOHC non-VTEC engines, whereas sportier trims such because the Prelude 2.2i, VTEC, VTi-R, and SV-R bought the H22A1 VTEC engine, which was the one VTEC engine Honda used within the gen-4 Prelude. All trim ranges with VTEC engines bought leather-based seats, a powered sunroof, high-quality stereo with a subwoofer, and greater brakes. Relying in the marketplace, in addition they bought powered and heated mirrors, a middle sprint speaker, heated seats, and a digital local weather management system. 

Attributable to security laws, the pop-up headlights had been changed with skinny elongated headlights that didn’t have an effect on the Prelude’s aerodynamics. The headlights had purposeful vent openings on the perimeters directing air to the larger radiator, and the Honda badge was moved to the bumper, in contrast to within the third technology, the place it was mounted on the hood. Unknown to many, the fourth-gen Honda Prelude graced the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix because the second official F1 security automotive. 

1996-2001 Honda Prelude (GA3, RH1, RH2)

1996-2001 Honda Prelude (GA3, RH1, RH2)

There was a decline in gross sales for the gen-4 Prelude, however regardless of that, Honda was nonetheless decided to provide the fifth technology, and so they unveiled it in 1996. They launched a brand new 4-speed Sport Shift automated transmission, retained the 5-speed guide transmission, and the F-series and H-series engines, excluding a number of.  

The two.2-liter H22A1 VTEC engine was solely used within the Japanese-exclusive Prelude Sort S. The Prelude Sort S additionally bought different unique options, equivalent to an non-compulsory Alcantara inside, seat lettering, and lively ABS. Efficiency security and dealing with upgrades within the kind S embody Energetic ABS, sport-tuned entrance suspension, torque vectoring, and a bigger exhaust. 

All trim ranges with over 200 horsepower bought new 5-lug hubs and 16-inch alloy wheels. Different variants nonetheless bought the 5-lug hubs however had 14-inch metal wheels, however consumers might go for the bigger alloy wheels for further. Some Canadian market Preludes bought carbon inserts within the inside and heated leather-based seats like US market preludes. In 2001 Honda discontinued the Honda Prelude, roughly 21 years after it was first produced, bringing complete manufacturing figures to 826,082. 


Is the Honda Prelude dependable?

The Honda Prelude is among the most dependable JDM vehicles. Upkeep prices are minimal and could be performed from the consolation of your storage if you wish to avoid wasting money. Gasoline and oil upkeep could be increased than your common Miata, nevertheless it’s nothing too ridiculous that makes the gasoline pump and the auto retailer your greatest pals. 

Are you able to drift a Honda Prelude?

Entrance-wheel-drive drifting isn’t a stroll within the park, nevertheless it’s attainable in case you have the talents. Changing a Honda Prelude to a rear-wheel-drive drift automotive makes it simpler to float and be taught with, particularly if you’re a newbie. 

What’s the greatest Honda Prelude yr?

The 1996-1998 JDM Prelude kind S with the two.2-liter VTEC engine mated to a 5-speed guide transmission is arguably the most effective Honda Prelude. It could be uncommon because it was solely made for the Japanese market in restricted numbers, however a automotive price shopping for over most sports activities vehicles in its class. 

Is the Honda Prelude AWD?

All Honda Preludes are constructed on front-wheel-drive platforms, and there are not any rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive Preludes. 

Which engine can slot in a Honda Prelude?

The Honda Prelude engine bay is massive sufficient to suit 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, and 8-cylinder engines. Frequent engine swaps embody Honda Okay-series engines, Toyota 1JZ and 2JZ engines, and enormous V8 engines various from Toyota UZ collection and LS engines. 

Is the Honda Prelude uncommon?

The Honda Prelude isn’t a uncommon JDM automotive. Just a few trim ranges, such because the Prelude Sort S and VTi-R, are uncommon since they had been made for particular markets in restricted manufacturing numbers. 

Are Honda Preludes RWD?

The Honda Prelude is just not rear-wheel-drive, nevertheless it has rear-wheel-steering obtainable in some Prelude trim ranges manufactured after 1987. 

What number of miles can a Honda Prelude final?

When maintained recurrently, a Honda Prelude can simply final for roughly 200,000 miles earlier than needing main mechanical work. Nevertheless, in case you have one with an automated transmission, there’s an opportunity it is going to fail earlier than hitting 100,000 miles.

How To Import A Honda Prelude

Learn our Final Information on How to Import a Car from Japan.

Christopher Weydert
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