One Of Few Remaining Mid-Malaise Era Preludes Gets Junked, Nobody Cares

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When was the last time you saw a first-generation Honda Prelude on the street? Even in low-rust California, these things disappeared years ago, so finding a first-year example in my local self-service boneyard was a bit of a history lesson.


75 horsepower and just under 2,000 pounds curb weight- these cars were small! This one looks pretty beat, but some of its parts might get grabbed prior to crushing.



I outran a cop in one of these.

Let me explain.

My first car was an '81 Prelude. I was 17 and bought it for 1,400 bucks. It had about 84K on the odo. It was a little rough, especially on the inside, so my dad and I ordered some rad red velour replacement seat covers from JC Whitney.

That little car was awesome. It had a turning circle of about three feet. It was also pretty "quick." Had 1.8 with three valves per cylinder, single four barrel carb on top.

Anyway, I grew up around Napa/Solano counties in Ca. Some of you probably know, but some of the best twisty backroads on the planet snake through the hills between the two counties. Nearly every Friday night my friend and I would take the Prelude up into the hills and try to kill ourselves.

Luckily, the thing was pretty much impossible to crash. I shelled out a fair amount of cash for some good tires and it stuck to the road like a pillbug.

We would blast around the corners, tires squealing, engine buzzing, all night.

Passing slower traffic mid corner was a standard maneuver. There were maybe three cars on ever 50 miles of road, so we thought it was safe. Late one night I'm rocketing down a tangled backroad when I run up on a pickup. Without hesitation, I swerve into the oncoming lane and pass it through a corner. As I pass the pickup, I narrowly avoid a head-on collision with another car coming the other way. It happens in milliseconds and I barely have time to react. But I did and we were safe. Then my friend, sitting in the passenger seat, says, "Um, that was a cop."

I look in the rearview and see the forest around us light up red and blue with cop lights. I have a choice. I can pull over and take the ticket, possibly go to jail, or I can run. I know the cop has to turn that big-ass Crown Vic around. Plus, I know the road turns into an absolute tangled mess of 90-degree twists in just a few hundred yards. That massive Crown Vic has no chance of catching the nimble little Prelude.

I mash the tiny gas pedal and speed away. My friend still says to this day that he's never seen anybody drive as fast as I did that night. I tossed that little Prelude through the turns like a madman.

We never saw the cop and thankfully the SWAT team never showed up at my house to take me and the Prelude away.

Needless to say, the Prelude and I went on to have may backroad adventures. I eventually sold it and picked up a '93 Mazda Protege LX, a much faster and way more dangerous car.