Odometer (Legend): 550,564
My buddy Steve Lynch has popped up on my blog a few times. I met him originally through the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) and he’s a published author many times over. Over the years, Steve and I have gotten together for car talk and a couple of drives, including our feature on The Truth About Cars with “orphaned Hondas.” Steve was delighted to share with me the story of his latest automotive acquisition: a very well-kept, original 1992 Honda Prelude Si.
To Steve, this Prelude is more than just A-to-B transportation. It represents a life-sized souvenir from the days when he worked for Honda at its main office in Torrance, California. And to him and many others, it represents an icon of an era 25 years ago when cars were simple, fun to drive, and a little more interesting than the sea of cookie-cutter midsized sedans out on the roadways today.
Any great car purchase story begins with a long-awaited “first drive” home. It just so happened that Steve’s first drive in his new Prelude was over 2,000 miles in distance since he’d flown to Florida to pick it up. Along the return trip, he turned over 100,000 miles on the Prelude’s odometer and visited some interesting roadside destinations like the “Florabama” beach bar, located at the Florida-Alabama state line. I only wish I’d been able to tag along to enjoy the miles and the scenery!
The 1992 model year marked the first year for the Prelude’s fourth generation. Body lines became much more rounded off as Honda departed from the boxy, pop-up-headlight-equipped 1988-1991 model year design that I’ve owned a few of. That futuristic layout continued on into the interior, where the instrument panel stretches across the entire width of the car with gauges housed in a narrow opening.
The most beautiful thing about the Prelude, though, is something you can’t readily see. It’s that 5-speed transmission, so slick shifting you can flick it with a pinkie finger through all the gears. Honda’s engineering excellence really shines through when you get the Prelude out onto an onramp, just like I did when entering Highway 51 southbound. The audible and tangible feelings as the car revs to its 6,500 RPM redline are exactly why the Prelude was (and forever will be) a favorite of tuners.
While the “H23” 2.3-liter powerplant puts out only 160 horsepower, it doesn’t matter. The car’s perfect sense of balance makes it an engaging driver, no matter the speed. From the moment I got behind the wheel, the car just felt “right.” Perhaps it’s because the car hails from an era that I’m so acutely familiar with (Honda and Acura products of the 1990s), but it took almost zero time to get comfortable in that supportive bucket seat and to get an understanding of how the controls and features operated. That’s something I definitely miss in new cars today: The simplicity of an engine, a transmission, and an open road without a dozen computers deciding how I need to drive or even taking over control for me.
I thank Steve for his hospitality in allowing me a few minutes behind the wheel of his new ride!
Integra is getting a new radiator this week, and I happened to park nose-to-nose with a Civic CX at the mechanic.