Wordsworth's poem, The Prelude, was intended as prologue to his work, The Recluse. In contrast, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Honda Prelude drops its top, ensuring its passengers are never cloistered.
Near the end of the ‘70s Honda's reputation here in the states had been solidified as a maker of highly efficient, sensible cars, albeit not cars that would stir one's loins. The 1979 introduction of the Prelude was the company's attempt to address that inequity, although the car's own inequities caused many a contemporary road tester to dub it the Quaalude.
Most of the car's problems stemmed from its styling, which, compared to its closest competitor, the Toyota Celica, appeared stodgy and awkward. Additionally, the Celica was a more traditional (at the time) rear-wheel drive, and was made available with larger, higher horsepower motors, while the Prelude was a puller, and its Accord-sourced four brought only 75-hp to the party. In the Prelude's favor was its under one ton weight, and Honda's Formula One experience which imbued the front MacPherson/rear Chapman strut suspension with excellent stability and handling.
This 1981 Prelude has a feature which addresses the issues with its looks, but which may also negatively impact the competence of its handling. The 2+2 cabin of the original Prelude is so tight that riding in one is a good approximation of what the Gemini capsule must have felt like, needing only a pair of adult-size Depends® to complete the picture. This forest green example however, is safe for claustrophobics as it's been Ann Boleyn'd, and allows for both covered and open driving.
On the downside, this Solaire conversion removes enough of the unibody structure that the car's once tight handling is now potentially wavy gravy. Of course, the car's 1,750-cc CVCC four isn't going to put forth the kind of effort that will make apex-clipping cornering a significant concern. Possibly concerning however, is this Prelude's condition, especially that of the top and mechanism, as it's one of only about 100 cars converted by Santa Ana-based Solaire- almost 30 years ago, and hence parts aren't going to be found in the bargain bin at your local O'Reilly.
Thankfully the top looks good, including clear rear plastic windows that emulate that of the Mercedes SL, and the seller claims that in between stints amassing its 102,000 miles it has lived indoors. That could explain the faux wire wheel covers as had the car been parked in constant view of the neighbors, somebody would have complained about the degradation to local property values their appearance represents. Those, along with the kryptonite of sports cars, an automatic transmission, causes this car to give the impression that it is a prelude to AARP membership. Not that that's a bad thing, and there's enough leading-edge baby boomers around to keep Laughlin Nevada early bird buffets, and cars like this, popular.
The question remains, whether you're a fogey or not, is this Preudible worth its $5,200 asking price? What do you think, is this Honda a hot deal? Or, is its price a prelude to disaster?
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