Honda Prelude

Honda Prelude

Infobox Automobile

name = Honda Prelude
manufacturer = Honda
production = 1978–2001
class = Sport compact
body_style = 2-door coupé
layout = FF layout
body_style = 2-door coupé
related = Honda Accord
assembly = Sayama, Japan

The Honda Prelude was a sports coupe Japanese automaker Honda from 1978 through 2001. The two-door coupé spanned five generations and was discontinued upon the release of the fourth-generation Honda Integra (Acura RSX in North America) in late 2001, due to its decreasing sales and popularity. In the U.S. auto market, the sixth-generation and subsequent Accord Coupes became the "de facto" replacement to the Prelude.

The Prelude's perennial competitor has been the Toyota Celica, another straight-4-powered coupé introduced several years prior to the Prelude. Throughout the 1980s, the Prelude was challenged by the Nissan Silvia, Isuzu Impulse, Mitsubishi FTO, Mitsubishi Cordia (later the Eclipse), Ford Probe and Mazda MX-6. Out of all of these contemporaries, the Eclipse is the only one remaining in production.

First generation (1978-1982)

Infobox Automobile generation
name=First generation

engine=1751 cc SOHC CVCC Convert|72|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I4
transmission=2-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Famously owned by popular 1970's television actor Ronan James McGovern the first generation Prelude was released in 1978, and was the third main model in Honda's modern line up, joining the Civic and the Accord. Its standard large glass moonroof was a feature seldom encountered in other cars at the time. Styling of the car was a combination of both then current Civic and Accord. The Prelude was equipped with a 1751 cc SOHC CVCC I4 engine that produced 72 hp (54 kW) and 94 lb·ft (127 Nm) of torque with a five-speed manual transmission, and 68 hp (51 kW) with a two-speed automatic called the Hondamatic. In 1980, the two speed Hondamatic was replaced by a modern four-speed automatic. In Australia and the UK, this car was mostly sold with the 1602 cc EL engine, developing 68 hp (51 kW).

econd generation (1983-1987)

Infobox Automobile generation
name=Second generation

engine=1.8L Convert|100|hp|kW|-1|abbr=on I42.0L Convert|110|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I4
transmission=4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
The second generation Prelude was released in 1983 and was initially available with a A18 1.8-litre 12-valve twin carburettor engine, producing 105 hp (77 kW), and fuel injection was introduced in 1985, in the "Si" models. In Japan, Asia and Europe, it was available with a 2-litre DOHC 16-valve PGM-FI engine in Europe and Japan, although this engine was not released in Europe until 1986. (And these were different engines. The JDM B20A produced convert|160|hp|abbr=on at 6300 rpm convert|19.0|kgm|Nm lbft|abbr=on torque at 5000 rpm, while the EDM B20A1 produced only convert|137|hp|abbr=on Honda B20A engine). This was the first generation of Prelude to have pop-up headlights, which allowed for a more aerodynamic front which reduced drag. Opening the headlights however, especially at higher speeds, produced more drag. The 1983 model is identifiable by its standard painted steel wheels with bright trim rings (although alloy rims were optional). The 1984-87 base models had Civic-style full wheel covers.

When the 2-litre 16-valve SOHC engine came out, the bonnet was slightly modified, since the larger engine could not be fitted under the standard bonnet. The European version also saw slight modifications to the rear lights and revised front and rear bumpers which were now colour-matched. Due to the fairly low weight of the car (convert|1025|kg|lb|abbr=on) and high power (the 16-valve engine produced 137 hp (102 kW)), the car was relatively nimble in comparison to its competitors, which most Preludes had not been up to that time.

Third generation (1988-1991)

Infobox Automobile generation
name=Third generation (BA5)

engine=2.0L Convert|104|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I42.0L Convert|135|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I42.0L Convert|140|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I42.1L Convert|140|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I42.0L Convert|142|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I42.0L Convert|150|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I4
weight= Auto lb|2337|0 - Auto lb|2954|0 (depending on model)
wheelbase= Auto in|101|0
length= Auto in|175.6|0 (1988-89)
Auto in|177.6|0 (1990-91)
width= Auto in|67.3|0
height= Auto in|51|0 (1988-89)
Auto in|49.2|0 (1990-91)
transmission=4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
fuel_capacity=Convert|15.9|usgal|L impgal|1

The third generation Prelude (released in 1987 in Japan and a little later in some markets) was very similar in looks to the second generation, however, it was all-new and gained four wheel steering on some models. In keeping true to the second generation Prelude, this third generaton received all-new body changes that modernized the look. New engines available in the USDM models were: in the 1988-1990 2.0S, the B20A3 which is a SOHC 12-valve dual sidedraft carburetted engine displacing 1958 cc that produced up to Convert|104|hp|kW|0|abbr=on and Auto ft·lbf|111|0; in the 1988-1991 2.0Si, the B20A5 with DOHC and PGM-FI that increased power to Convert|135|hp|kW|0|abbr=on and Auto ft·lbf|127|0, or a slightly-larger B21A1 in 1990 and 1991 described below. The B20A6 was the Australian model: a 2.0 DOHC 16-valve PGM-FI engine, also 1958 cc, producing Convert|142|hp|kW|0|abbr=on and Auto ft·lbf|127|0.

Four-wheel steering:

The four-wheel steering system was a major piece of engineering and the first production car to feature it. The less expensive two-wheel-steering version has been criticised for severe understeer. To this day, the 1988-1991 Prelude remains the only production vehicle with true mechanical 4 wheel steering. All other vehicles (including later Preludes) used electronic or hydraulic systems, and there was no true linkage.

Design Aspects:

The third generation Prelude also had some new external designs worth mentioning. The hood line was designed to be the lowest hood line of any front wheel drive car in the world, allowing for better forward visibility. The drag coefficient was at the very low rating of .34. This gave better fuel economy, lower wind noise, and a greater level of high-speed stability.

Another unique structural element of the third generation Prelude was the high-strength metal used in the six roof pillars. The roof pillars were so slim that all-around visibility was amazingly clear for 326°. Some call this Prelude the "baby NSX" due to some common design cues between the two cars, such as the excellent forward visibility via a low bonnet line, a front end resemblance, the suspension attributes (great handling with a smooth ride), and the new design of the rear lights.

In 1987, "Road & Track" published a test summary that shows the 1988 Honda Prelude 2.0Si 4WS out slalomed every car of that year, including all Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Porsches. It went through the slalom at convert|65.5|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on, an amazing result for the time. For reference, the 1988 Corvette took the same course at convert|64.9|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on.

The Prelude was "Wheels" magazine's Car of the Year for 1987.


In 1990, the Honda Prelude was given a facelift from the previous third-generation styling to a newer look, chiefly in terms of the rear tail lights. The top of the rear bumper was also changed to meet up with the smaller lights, and the bumper was also made into a rounder shape. Outwardly, the Prelude resembled the Accord Coupe.

The front bumper on the 1990 Prelude was also changed to feature clear indicators and park lamps that no longer wrapped around the corners of the bumper. Many of the interior parts were revised, including the dash bezel, the door handle and window switches, the steering wheel shape contours were changed, etc. The five-speed manual transmission had a unique gear ratio that offered easy acceleration at high speeds. The B21A1 engine became available in the "SE" trim level, which offered 4WS or ABS (called ALB). This engine is a B20A5 bored to convert|83|mm|in|1|abbr=on with a total displacement of 2056 cc producing up to Convert|140|hp|kW|0|abbr=on. This version featured a unique cylinder liner that is reported to be extremely tough, but also to contribute to additional oil usage.

Honda also released the Prelude SiStates in 1990. Originally available only in Japan, this car was on a limited production run and very few were built. It featured four-wheel steering, ABS, limited slip differential (LSD), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, extra sound deadening on firewall and hood, rear windscreen wiper and washer, and many more features that were usually options. It also featured a unique B21A engine rated at Auto bhp|150|0 that was only produced for the SiStates.

A series labeled INX was available on the Japanese domestic market. These models had fixed headlights (similar in nature to the European Accord Sedan from 85-90). Three models were available XX, Si and Si SRS.

Fourth generation (1992-1996)

Infobox Automobile generation
name=Fourth generation (BB4)

engine=2.2L Convert|135|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I4 S
2.3L Convert|160|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I4 Si2.2L Convert|190|hp|kW|0|abbr=on I4 VTEC
wheelbase= Auto in|100.4|0
length= Auto in|174.8|0
width= Auto in|69.5|0
height= Auto in|50.8|0
weight= convert|2840|lb|kg|abbr=on|0
transmission=4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
fuel_capacity=Convert|15.9|usgal|L impgal|1

In 1992, the fourth generation Prelude was released, after being released in Japan in 1991. The car had a 58% front and 42% rear weight distribution. The four wheel steering system was changed to an electronic version and the engine was increased in capacity from 2.1 litres to 2.2 litres for the base "S" model (SOHC F22A1 engine, Convert|135|hp|kW|0|abbr=on (101 kW) @ 5200 rpm, 142 lb·ft (193 Nm) @ 4000 rpm) and "VTEC" model (DOHC VTEC H22a1, 190 hp (143 kW) @ 6800 rpm, 160 lb·ft @ 5500 rpm), with a less performance-oriented 2.3-litre for the "Si" (DOHC H23A1, 160 hp (115 kW) @ 5800 rpm, 156 lb·ft (212 Nm) @ 5300 rpm). The VTEC and Si Model had an upgraded brake system, going from a 10.3" front rotor to an 11.1" front rotor, utilizing a larger calliper and brake pad, similar to that from the Acura Vigor.

In the United Kingdom, there was also a 2.0i model that was rated around Auto bhp|133|0. 1993 was the last year that the "Si-VTEC" name was used, and starting in 1994 it shortened to just "VTEC" and stayed that way throughout the rest of the generation. In some countries, the Prelude with 2.2 VTEC engine was called the VTi-R. In Canada, the Si was called the SR, and the VTEC was called the SR-V.

This model also marked the end for the pop-up headlights and other design features that had become "Prelude standard". The rear end was rounded and fairly high in comparison to the previous, flat boot line. The front fascia of the car became wider with fixed headlights. The glass sunroof made way for a steel sliding roof which no longer retracted into the car but extended out and over it. This in effect creates a spoiler which reduced air noise when driving.

The dashboard was generally accepted as the extraordinary feature of this model. The dashboard stretched from left to right in the car, being equal in height over the full length and housing all dials and indicators. The light blue back lighting introduced in the third generation was continued. Later models (1994 and on) also featured translucent speedometer and tachometer needles. All VTEC & SE models received leather interior. In Japan, there was also an in-dash television set available as an option; as a result, many enthusiasts have tried to modify the dashboards of their Preludes in order to fit a small television set. Also featured an 8 speaker audio system which included a center dash-mounted speaker and rear center subwoofer while the U.S. version received only 7 (center dash speaker not included). The Japanese version also included a Digital climate control A/C system. The Japanese version of the Prelude also had certain options which were never found in state-bound models but did show up in the Canadian market. For instance, the Japanese Prelude had power folding mirrors as well as a rear windscreen wiper, while the Canadian market was the one to have heated mirrors and optional heated seats. The Japanese model came with optional Honda Access accessories such as Typus ski racks, under dash lights, headrest covers, an air refiner, and floor mats, The Japanese SI came with the F22B (2.2L DOHC NON-VTEC 160 hp), Some of the Japanese domestic market fourth generation Prelude VTEC's did not come with options such as a sunroof and 4-Wheel Steering, as it is possible not to have these options when buying in Japan at the time. The fourth generation Prelude also shares some suspension components with the fifth (1994-97) generation Honda Accord.

In the UK, the Honda Prelude was never considered an essential purchase by the majority of sports car enthusiasts who overlooked it for the more trendy Toyota MR-2 and other well-known rivals. Within the Honda range itself, the Prelude was usually overlooked for the more popular Civic and Integra models. This might be partly due to the Prelude's reportedly cramped interior, though perhaps the Prelude was also overshadowed by more prominent performance Hondas, such as the NSX and later the S2000. However, the Prelude is competitive in terms of style, speed and build quality, and it has achieved something of a cult status in the UK and US where demand is still high for the sportier, manual transmission versions. This demand is partly attributed to the still rising demand for customize-able cars. Both the 4th and 5th generations of the Honda Prelude emerged as popular choices for modders. They are easily modded and access to aftermarket/replacement parts is second to none.

Paint Codes

Phoenix Red R-51

Milano Red R-81 Cassis Red Pearl R-82P

Cobalt Blue Pearl B-54P

Fresco Blue Pearl B-64P

Pacific Blue Pearl B-68P

Brittany Blue Green Metallic BG-23M

Azure Blue Green Pearl BG-34P

Geneva Green Pearl G-62P

Sherwood Green Pearl G-78P

Granada Black Pearl NH-503P

Frost White NH-538

Sebring Silver Metallic NH-552M

Cashmere Silver Metallic YR-505M

--Honda Prelude Generation 4 Image Gallery--

Fifth generation (1997-2001)

Infobox Automobile generation
name=Fifth generation (BB6)

production=1997-2001 2.2L VTEC 176 hp (97-98) H22 I42.2L VTEC 184 hp (99-01) H22 I4
wheelbase= Auto in|101.8|0
length= Auto in|178|0
width= Auto in|69|0
height= Auto in|51.8|0
weight= convert|2882|lb|kg|abbr=on|0
transmission=4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
fuel_capacity=Convert|15.9|usgal|L impgal|1

The fifth generation retained a FF layout with an independent front suspension. The car had a 63/37 weight distribution. All fifth-generation Honda Preludes came with 16 inch aluminium alloy wheels with all-season 205/50 R16 87V tires. Unlike the USDM Preludes, JDM Preludes came with rear wind screen wipers (except the Xi). All Prelude models now featured the 11.1" front brakes that the 96' VTEC model came with, and the prelude also received a 5-lug hub, as opposed to the 4-lug wheel hub of older models.

The fifth-generation Prelude marked a return to the body style of the late 1980s, or third generation, in an attempt to curb slumping sales of the fourth-generation body style. The fifth-generation was assembled and distributed to many parts of the world, including Japan, the UK, the US, and Germany, among others. All models and trims stayed within the BB-chassis code (BB5-BB9) and housed either the H-series or F-Series engine. Models available to the Japanese market included (engine compression ratio in parentheses): SiR (10.6), Xi (8.8), Si (9.2), SiR S-spec (11.0) and the Type S (11.0). The US received a Base model and Type SH. Canada received the Base model, SE, and Type SH. Europe received the 2.0i (9.5) and 2.2 VTi VTEC (10.0). Australia received the Si (10.0), the VTi-R (10.0) and the ATTS ((10.0). All fifth generation Preludes came with an H22A except: Xi (F22B), Si (F22B), 2.0i (F20A), Si (F22Z). BB5 was the Xi, and Si-2WS trim. BB6 was the SiR-2WS trim, SiR S-spec, Type S, Base model, Type SH, SE, 2.2 VTi VTEC-2WS trim. BB7 was the Si-4WS trim. BB8 was the SiR-4WS trim, and 2.2 VTi VTEC-4WS trim. All Preludes had a fuel tank capacity of 60 l (15.9 US gal).

One version of the fifth-generation Prelude, the Type S, was only available in Japan. It was equipped with the 2.2 l H22A, featuring VTEC and producing 223 hp (162 kW) @ 7200 rpm and 163 lb·ft (221 Nm) @ 6500 rpm. With a compression ratio of 11.0:1, convert|87.0|mm|in|1|abbr=on bore x convert|90.7|mm|in|1|abbr=on stroke and the VTEC-valve timing, lift and duration were adjusted to convert|12.2|mm|in|1|abbr=on intake and convert|11.2|mm|in|1|abbr=on exhaust. Honda also overhauled the air box and replaced it with a more efficient design that is often referred to as "Dynamic Chambering," along with a larger throttle body design bored to 62 mm (as opposed to the previous 60 mm). The exhaust system was also treated to a redesign, with the pipe cross sections becoming more cylindrical rather than oval. The three-way catalytic converter was also increased in size, as well as the exhaust piping from 50.8 mm (2.00 in) to 57 mm (2.25 in) (tToV). The fifth generation curb weight was 1310 kg (2882 lb), and ground clearance was 140 mm (5.5 in). Unlike the SiR S-spec that had an LSD, the Type S acquired the Honda technology known as the Active Torque Transfer System (ATTS). The gearing on the Type S matches all other fifth-generation Preludes that had a manual transmission except for the five-speed 2.2 VTi VTEC and had a final drive ratio of 4.266:1. The Type S had an Active Control ABS system, different from the others which had the standard ABS systems. The interior featured leather laced with red stitching. Manufacturer styling options included seat lettering. The exterior styling of fifth generation Preludes was standardized for most models. All had a sunroof except for the Type S model.

The MSDM fifth-generation Preludes also saw enhancements in the engine, with the full line now offering VTEC H22A4 engines, an evolution of the H22A1 with higher flowing heads, making 195 hp (143 kW) @ 7000 rpm and 156 lb·ft (212 Nm) @ 5250 rpm from 1997 to 1999, and the same torque readings with 200 hp (147 kW) @ 7000 rpm from 1999 to 2001 with a compression ratio of 10.0:1. In some countries the Prelude was also offered with a base 2.0L convert|133|bhp|kW PS|0|abbr=on engine. The USDM fifth-generation had a Type SH ("Super-Handling") trim which featured the ATTS, and, along with the five-speed base model, shared the same gearing as the Type S and SiR-S spec trims in Japan. This system allowed Honda to overcome the limitations of front-wheel drive somewhat, and in 1997, "Car and Driver" named the Prelude Type SH the "best-handling car under $30,000.

In the fifth generation Prelude, all models with an automatic transmission featured SportShift technology. This 4-speed transmission allowed the driver to manually change gears in a manner similar to the Porsche tiptronic system. Gear selection was enabled by sliding the shifter horizontally from D4, the standard automatic position, to a separate track that allowed the shifter to be pushed forwards or backwards. At the time of the Prelude's release this type of feature was relatively rare, having been recently introduced in the Porsche Porsche 911 in the early 90's, but soon afterwards it became common in many sport coupés and sedans. [ [ Honda Prelude - Chassis - Honda - Press Releases - Selected Story ] ]

Sales were not strong, particularly due to competition from Honda's other offerings. The Coupe version of the sixth-generation Accord received an exclusive front fascia, rear tail lights, wheels and many other body panels, being now marketed as a somewhat separate model from the family-oriented sedan, though its sedan roots gave it much more utility than the cramped Prelude. The sixth-generation Civic Coupe Si has also gained a reputation in its own right and it was considerably less expensive than the Prelude.


In Australia, 1983-2002 Honda Preludes were assessed in the Used Car Safety Ratings 2006. []
* Prelude (1983-96) - "average" level of occupant protection
* Prelude (1997-2002) - "significantly better than average"

NHTSA crash test results

*1980--- Honda Prelude-------- 2HB-- 2545 (* ) (* )
*1984--- Honda Prelude-------- 2Dr-- 2780 (**** ) (*****)
*1990--- Honda Prelude-------- 2Dr-- 2659 (* ) (**** )
*1992-94 Honda Prelude-------- 2Dr-- 2818 (**** ) (*****)


The Prelude was on "Car and Driver" magazine's annual Ten Best list ten times, from 1984-86, and from 1992-98.


Through the years, several German companies have converted Preludes into convertibles. Currently, there have been convertibles made from the first, second and fourth generation Preludes.

First generation Preludes were modified by a company called Tropic Design, located in Germany. In all, they modified 47 Preludes, most of which were exported to Japan . Very few have remained in Europe, initially all in Germany. Some have been sold over time to nearby countries, at least one to the Netherlands and one to Belgium.

Second generation Preludes were modified by another German company; some 100 Preludes were modified. No DOHC engine-equipped models have been known to be converted into convertibles, however. Three versions were available: a basic version, one which had more luxurious options, and one which added a body kit.

Of the fourth generation Preludes, only some 15 were modified into a convertible by German company Honda-Autohaus Manfred Ernst. No details are known about the engine types and other specifics. Since only 15 were ever made, they are assumed by many to be custom-built.


External links

* [ Everything Prelude! Pictures, write-ups, product reviews...]
* [ Prelude Club - Russia]
* [ Prelude Club - Latvia]
* [ Toronto Prelude Club - Canada]
* [ Number one US prelude site]
* [ Houston Texas Prelude Club]
* [ North Texas Prelude Owners Group]
* [ ACP - Atlantic Canada Honda Prelude Web Forum]
* [ US Honda Prelude web forum]
* [ - US Honda Prelude Forum]
* [ - US Honda Prelude Web Forum]
* [ Prelude Australia - Australian Based Honda Prelude Forum]
* [ PreludeUK - UK Prelude Owners Club]
* [ Lude Behaviour UK Prelude Owners Club]
* [ HPOC Hawaii]
* [ Bay Area Prelude Owners Club]
* [ Southern California Prelude Owners Club]
* [ Ohio Prelude Owners Community]
* [ Prelude time line at]
* [ Prelude Zone - Honda Prelude tuners and enthusiasts]
* [ Prelude UK]
* [ Prelude Central]

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