My First Honda: 1989 Prelude 2.0 Si 5-Speed

Happy Friday!  It was a week of milestones for the cars.  On Wednesday night, the ILX rolled 30,000 miles.


And on Thursday night, the Legend rolled 520,000 miles.


My ILX in fewer than 9 months has accumulated more miles than this 1995 Legend LS sedan has over the last 18 years.  Look how nice that front seat leather is!

Humble beginnings.  Honda’s first foray into production automobiles was in June 1963 with a cute little truck called the T360.  It had only 30 horsepower.  Honda has come a very long way. -

The first car I really ever got passionate about was my 1989 Honda Prelude 2.0 Si when I was 17 years old.  This was a Phoenix Red 5-speed that I purchased in January 1999 with 134,000 miles on the odometer. Original classified ad:


First order of business was ditching the studded snow tires (this was a Boise, Idaho car) and installing some 15″ Optima polished aluminum wheels.


This next picture was taken December, 2000.  It’s easy to see how my tastes were a little more “loud” back then.  Wings West spoiler, Dynomax exhaust, even an “Si-R” sticker.  My mom’s 1993 Legend L sedan in the background had a much cleaner sense of style than what I was going for on my Prelude.


I meticulously kept track of my expenses for the entire time that I owned the Prelude.



I drove the Prelude for two years and sold it at 169,000 miles.  Two more years later, I was reunited the car in early 2003 when I got in touch with the family who I’d sold it to.  I was able to borrow the car for a couple of hours and detail it.  At the time, I had just recently purchased my 1994 Legend LS coupe so I got some pictures with the two cars together.



Sadly, it was less than a year later when I happened across the Prelude in the front yard of a towing company in St. George, Utah.  It had been rear-ended and was a total loss.  When I stopped by, I was driving my Charcoal Granite Metallica 1991 Legend L coupe 5-speed (a project car).


The most depressing part was when I peered inside the car and saw the odometer reading:  199,600.  It had been so close to achieving 200,000 mile status.  I know they’re capable of far more, based on my friend Chris’ experience with his 1988 Prelude Si getting to 399,525 miles before it died.



I pulled off the “H” emblem from the trunk lid and I still have it in a box, 10 years later.  The only reminder I have left of the car that first got me excited about Honda.


I must’ve had a video camera handy, because my friend Branson in the background here was documenting our visit.  I’ll have to track down that tape because it could have some entertaining stuff on it.


I’d love to own another 3rd generation (1988-1991) Prelude someday.

New Member of the ILX Family

Congrats to another Drive to Fiver who has picked up an Acura ILX.  Greg from Denver reached out the other day after picking up his first new car, a 2013 Acura ILX in Polished Metal Metallic with the 2.0 / automatic drivetrain.

Thanks Greg for sharing your excitement about (and a picture of) your new car!



Most gearheads can appreciate things like sky-high horsepower and loads of torque, so I’ll share a fun sidebar about my brother’s business called H&S Performance. As long as I can remember, my brothers have been just as into the car scene as I have.  My brother Bentley’s first car was a 1984 Honda Civic S with a whopping 122 horsepower.  It was a 5-speed manual and a hand-me-down from my great-grandma, “Granny.”


He wasted no time in making some aesthetic and performance upgrades to that old hatchback.


But 122 horsepower was only going to satisfy him for so long…

H&S is a producer of diesel performance products.  There’s an entire enthusiast community dedicated to souping up diesel pickup trucks.  And these monster trucks, it may surprise many, can put sports cars to shame with their speed & power capabilities.


On Thursday afternoon, H&S broadcasted a 2-hour live video feed of my brother Bentley’s 2011 Ford F-250 Powerstroke through a series of dyno runs in an attempt to break something.  They literally wanted to push this truck to its ultimate limits for the sake of R&D.  My brother is the one leaning on the truck in the final shot of this video where folks from around his office predicted the fate of the truck.

The live video feed from the event is here.

  • Run 1: 1:28:39 – Warming up the truck, ~400 HP
  • Run 2: 1:30:21 – Fuel only, ~580 HP
  • Run 3: 1:33:45 – Fuel only, ~600 HP
  • Run 4: 1:40:35 – Nitrous run 1, ~700 HP
  • Run 5: 1:45:41 – Nitrous run 2, ~700 HP
  • Run 6: 1:50:48 – Nitrous run 3, ~700 HP
  • Run 7: 2:01:02 – Nitrous run 4, ~750 HP
  • Run 8: 2:18:05 – Nitrous run 5, ~800 HP
  • Run 9: 2:47:04 – Nitrous run 6, ~880 HP

The truck ended up at 884 horsepower and 1,668 lb/ft of torque on a stock bottom end and transmission.  That transmission ended up being the weakest link.


The H&S crew said they’ll be back for 1,000 horsepower soon.  I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store.  Now, if only I could get them to do a little tuning to my 2.4 liter ILX.


EDIT:  Let’s make this interactive.  Duane from California emailed me and told me about his first Honda.  He paid $426 for it in 1988, which was a lot of money for a lawnmower back then.  But in 25 years, it’s only been in for service once!


What was your first Honda?  😉

33 Responses to “My First Honda: 1989 Prelude 2.0 Si 5-Speed”

  1. The Hugie boys and their toys…. (cars and trucks). Over-achievers? Haha. I cannot even imagine such a thing — cannot relate to it in the least. This is one pleased mother!

    I did not know the fate of your Prelude until reading this blog! It is like the death of a family member seeing it wrecked and out of commission like that. The size of Branson’s video camera reminds us of how quickly technology progresses. Just look at what Bentley Hugie is doing to trucks — almost triple the horsepower of a stock engine, right?

    Have a great weekend! Right on, ride on, and write on, Tyson!

  2. Wow! Congrats on the milestones, Tyson! I’d say rename your blog to “DrivetoMillion,” or “DrivetoOne!” It was great reading about your Prelude. Makes me want to make a post of my first car on my blog. But it isn’t as significant since it was a Nissan. And I’m a Honda man. The more I look at Legend Coupes, the more I’d like to get a hold of one. They just look so classy.

    • Jason, even if your first car was a Nissan, I’d still like to read about my first car overall was a 1986 Chevy Celebrity – a total grandma ride. But, at 16, it didn’t matter! That car meant freedom. If you ever get serious about looking for a Legend coupe, let me know. They’re getting tougher to find in decent shape but there are some good ones out there. Have a great weekend!

      • Typo city in there. Trying to eat a grilled cheese at the same time as I’m responding to comments.

      • Well, I guess I’ll just have to rig up a post about that soon. If I were to start seriously looking for a Legend, I’ll be sure to consult you first. I would bet a few good examples could be found on the Legend Forums. That’s just dreaming, of course.

  3. Dearest Tyson. I am reading your blog from 30,000 feet. I do believe my first Honda was a 1987 Accord LX-i with 227,000 miles. I purchased the car from a neighbor in 1999, for $1,500 and two months of work cleaning gas pumps at their gas station. I have since owned every generation, and numerous iterations, of the Honda Accord. Next on my list is the 2013 model. I also owned several preludes and truly love Honda and Acura coupes. They provide us with a rendition of a car that alpha males like us would not otherwise buy.

    • Weren’t you going to be emailing some old pics you dug up of some of the Hondas you’ve owned over the years? I agree that you need a 2013 Accord next. The sport sedan 6MT is a hot ride for sure. Save travels to Reno today!

  4. My first Honda was a 1980 Accord hatchback, 5sp bought brand spanking new. Under the hood was a 2.2 liter four which generated a mind crushing 72 horsepower. Now if everyone will stop laughing so loudly, I will tell you more. I traded in my 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix which guzzled gas like nobody’s business because of the gas shortages of the time. It was a great little car that I drove for the next 8 years. It was pokey, but never failed on me.

    • Hey, I’ll take 72 horsepower for the trade-off in excellent fuel economy! It’s 30 years later, and today’s Hondas are STILL trying to achieve those kinds of numbers. I’ve heard of CRXs getting mpg in the 40’s! What car did you get after your 8 years in that 1980 Accord?

      • My buddy was fresh out of the marines and needed a car badly. So, I gave the Accord to him. He kept it an additional five years. Because of a growing family, I bought a 1989 Pontiac Bonneville LE, two years later, a 1990 Accord EX. I drove the Accord nearly 200,000 miles over the next ten years mostly because of a long commute. Awesome car, it never failed me.

  5. My first Honda was a 1990 Honda CRX Si. I bought the car off a friend of mine that due to an accident, was no longer able to drive a manual. The car had 160,000 miles on it at the time. He bought it used (in Utah) and it already had lowered springs, urethane bushings, adjustable sway bars, Bilstein shocks, and bad aftermarket wheels and tires. The sunroof had rusted out, the stereo (and speakers!) had been stolen, and someone had backed up over the hood at one point. I got to work.
    I found a hood and sunroof at a junk yard not too far away. They were already black, so I didn’t even have to paint them, just buffed them out. Did some way, way overdue service to the car including valve adjustment, timing belt, and brakes. Replaced the rotted out muffler with a mellow stainless system. Got a set of tires and wheels from Tire Rack, and a new stereo from Crutchfield. Sold some of the take off parts on eBay. Detailed the whole car out and drove it around for two years, amazed with the fun I was having along with 40mpg. Sold it later for $1,800 more than I paid for it.

    • Jon, those old CRXs are highly sought after these days by tuners and enthusiasts. They’re nearly impossible to find in stock configuration. Sounds like you had a lot of fun with yours AND made a few bucks on it. I’d love to see some pictures of it if you’re able to dig any up. There’s something “cute” about a CRX – though I’m not sure that’s a word Honda used to market it at the time. Thanks for sharing your Honda story!

  6. Yesterday, I brought in my 2001 Acura 3.2TL for a service at Acura by Executive. At 141,300 miles, they did a thorough check of the car, tire rotation and balancing as well as oil & filter change. In a bit over an hour, I was on my way. I love this car and I made a decision to hit 200k before I decide to get something new. So, while I was waiting, I walked into the new car showroom to look at the new cars and there is was. The brand new RLX. Wow. What a gorgeous automobile. I looked it over, sat in front and back. One of the sales staff talked me through some of the features too which was kind of nice since I had no intentions of buy a new car just now. Tyson, I looked over the new ILX as well and came away very impressed.
    Eventually, the service rep. came looking for me as my car was finished. I settled up and drove back home in my freshly washed and vacuumed car courtesy of Executive . I drove back via the Merritt Parkway which is a very scenic highway with lots of twisty pavement. Take care for now.

    • A well maintained Acura, a scenic road, minimal traffic = recipe for happiness. Sounds like you had a great experience with Executive. Your TL with 141,000 miles is just getting going. Keep me posted on your travels toward 200,000 and beyond. I agree with you – that RLX is a handsome ride! I haven’t yet had the chance to drive one myself, but I’m anxious to. Have a great weekend Gerry.

      • Hey Tyson,
        Come out and visit us at Center Acura. We have two RLX’s available for test driving. 😀

  7. Tyson – like this posting since as you know I have had many Hondas/Acuras over the past ~20 years. What got me on the Honda kick was an ’87 integra hatchback. Great little car and fun with the 5 speed and double overhead cams. Then on to accords and other Acuras. My new pick up of the aztec green 92 gsr is kind of cool since I passed on the same car in red back in ’95.

    • Yeah I think it’s awesome how you’ve come full circle and you’re back to an Integra GSR! An Integra was what got my Acura passion jump-started too – it was my mom’s 1990 GS sedan that I shared a picture of on your thread on the forums. Such fun little cars. In a way I think the ILX brings back some of the “fun to drive” characteristics of the Integras of old. We should share some pictures of your Aztec Green ride on the blog sometime. Let me know if that would be okay with you!

  8. Sounds fine with me! That would be great

  9. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  10. We just got back from a long road trip to Rochester, NY. I drove about 900 miles round trip. All in all, it was a really good trip. The longest leg of the ride was on the NYS Thruway. The scenery was mostly small mountains interspersed with farms. The crop land was terraced on the hills instead of large flat surfaces. Weather was good, but overall cloudy. The 3.2TL worked its magic as usual. Even with 142, 700 miles at the outset, it never missed a beat. I cruised mostly at 70mph and averaged 29mpg on the way up and about 33mph on the way home. It was good to be back home!

    • Gerry, that’s some great fuel economy from a 3.2 TL! You must be pretty delicate on the throttle. At any rate, sounds like you experienced a nice scenic road trip. Next time you’re out and about like that, snag some pictures for me because I’d love to share them here on the blog. I’ll see you in Asheville in August, right? Looking forward to it.

  11. I must have missed it. What is going on in Asheville?

    • Gerry, sounds like I’ve had a brain cramp because I’m mistaking you for ANOTHER friend Gerry who owns a 3.2 TL and who is building a home near Asheville and (hopefully) planning to meet us at the Nat’l Acura Legend Meet there this August. At any rate, where are you located? Hope the weekend’s going well!

      • Wow, who would have thought another Gerry with a G is lurking around 🙂 I live in New Haven county, Ct. Weekend is going just fine, hope yours is as well. Take care!

  12. Tyson, don’t worry about it. It’s highly unlikely I would be able to attend. Number one, I don’t own a Legend. Two, I am senior care giver for my 86 year old mom. I can’t leave her alone for days at a time. Gerry

  13. david mclean Says:

    Honda Accord EX Sedan black with the spoiler and premium wheels ugh i loved that accord to death i cant believe its gone but ive owned alot more hondas since then haha after the accord was another accord! haha 2005 Accord then 2008 Acura TL then my PRELUDE 3rd generation 1990 si i love it, and now i have a 98 prelude 5th gen i love it also 🙂

  14. I have a 1989 white 2.0Si Prelude,purchased at the end of March, 2012. I have loved the 3rd gen ‘ludes since they were new- when I was driving my carb’d ’85 Civic S hatchback 5 spd (which I drove through 2 engines, then allowed an ex-g/f to talk me into going with a large car [Ford Taurus- good car, but she totaled it 10 months into it’s life]. The Civic and I had gone all over- I was a shuttle engineer so had it in Calif and then at the Cape, and back to CA. Anyway- currently I am dealing with an electrical problem on the Prelude but am certain it’s the alternator, so am yanking that to test it tomorrow (gotta love these 3-day President’s Day weekends).
    My 1st Honda (and my 2nd car) was a N360, 1969, in Japan (in 1975-1977). It was about half the engine size of it’s US vers- which was the N600. I had a blast with that. Bought it from a fellow G.I. for $200 and sold for same (…couldn’t bring it to the states- bumpers and glass didn’t meet regs). My 1st ever new car was a ’79 Civic, again- a blast. My Nihonji spousal unit has had an ’85 Wagon (automatic- she can’t drive a stick- which all I will have), ’97 CRV, and now the ’08 Fit we got (I do like the paddle shifters!). I’m a Honda guy pretty much, though I am not thrilled with the large size that the Civic has become, and really didn’t like the 2 generations of ‘ludes after mine. The Legend is, in my opinion, one of the finer Hondas, period. I plan on retaining the ‘lude. I have a “Fuel Dr.” in it- and it’s put the top end of around town driving to 26mpg (versus 21).
    I put after-market elec remote door locks on it, and installed a CRV cassette/CD/AM-FM in (it fit perfectly, except for some shimming with washers on the attach points to the center console frame). The car had 109K on it, a goofy connector to the alternator it came with (the plug slot on the alt was bad- so I got a rebuild). My only real regret is that the moonroof won’t pop upward in the back end as most do in all cars now- I like to do that to vent the vehicle. I have toyed with the idea of hinging the aft side windows (like my Civic hatchback had). I like nice flow through air that doesn’t kill my ears with white noise….
    The cruise control and air conditioning are inoperative, but those are low priority in the central coast region.

    Hondas forever!


    • Hey thanks for chiming in! Sounds like you’re having some fun with the ’89 2.0 Si. Any old car will have its share of glitches and quirks. Hopefully you’re able to get to the bottom of that electrical issue. That would be pretty cool if you could get the rear windows to vent somehow.

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