Archive for the Prelude Category

Canyon Carvers: A 1992 Prelude & 1992 Integra vs. Arizona’s Catalina Highway

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Prelude, Road Trip on March 19, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  551,894

Trip Distance:  304 Miles

A quarter-century ago in 1992, you could set foot into your local Honda or Acura dealerships and drive away with any number of sport coupes.  From the eco-friendly CRX Si at $11,900 to the flagship NSX at $65,000 MSRP, there was something for just about everyone.

Automotive journalist Steve Lynch (The Truth About Cars) and I decided to pit two against each other that are most alike in price & performance:  The Prelude Si versus the Integra GS-R.  Coming in at about $18k and $17k respectively, they shared more than just a price point.  They each offered a 160-horsepower 4-cylinder powerplant and a slick-shifting 5-speed manual transmission.

Arizona’s “Catalina Highway,” one of the state’s most scenic twisty roads, seemed the perfect spot to carry out our evaluation.  At 26 miles in length from its base in Tucson to the summit at Summerhaven, it climbs nearly 6,000 feet in elevation to over about 8,200 feet – high enough that even now in late March there is snow along the roadside in some stretches.  Arizona, snow?  Yes – it happens.

Joining for the excursion were two friends who preferred to exercise their American muscle and grunt:  Will in a Chevy SS and James (Six Speed Blog) in a Dodge Durango R/T.  Each one offered more than double the horsepower of our Hondas so it wouldn’t have been a fair fight to include them in the comparison test.  Besides, we found a better way to put those two against each other:  an exhaust sound-off contest.  More on that when you watch the YouTube video.

When you saddle up in the Integra GS-R, you have to be alert and attentive.  The automatic seat belts close in on you forcefully as if to say, “Buckle up.  You’re about to take a hell of a ride.”  A crank of the B17 motor and a glance at the 8,000-RPM redline tell you the car is all about the high-revving playtime.  And even though the car is old enough for historic plates and has its share of mechanical quirks consistent with 239,000 miles on the odometer (hello, ABS light on the dash!), it revs happily like a toddler and the chassis tuning is stiff.

The Prelude takes a more sophisticated approach.  Its futuristic dashboard communicates all relevant driver information in typical Honda sensible fashion.  But its engine’s behavior and suspension’s refinement make it less of a rev-machine.  It’s torquey enough at low RPM that the driver doesn’t feel like he or she has to push it to the limit.  Seats are comfortable and supportive, sounds are more subdued, and it acts like a much more responsible daily driver – with a fun side for the weekends – than the trouble-maker Integra.

We all did enough key-swapping throughout the mountain cruise to come to pretty much the same conclusion.  If I had Marty McFly’s DeLorean and transported myself back in 1992, my $18k would be better spent on a Prelude than an Integra.  Reason being, we all spend far more time in day to day mundane driving situations – traffic, commuting, and the occasional interstate cruise – than we do carving up a canyon road or sprinting around an autocross track.  The Prelude is a better all-around value for the money.

For reference, a prior Mount Lemmon trip in which we took a similar parade of sporty Hondas up the mountain.

Oh, and the Durango versus SS?  Skip to the end of the video to see how that contest went :).

Preparing for our ascent

The V8 contenders

Headed on up the mountain

Prelude in the lead

Arrival at Summerhaven – elevation 8,200 feet

And perfect weather!

Lunch at the Sawmill Restaurant

Sweet potato tots!  (insert heart-eye emoji)

Few more pics up at the ski lift area

Integra engine bay

Prelude engine bay

Making our descent

And finally, a visit from my friend Matt today in his 2003 CL Type-S 6-speed!  235,000 miles and it looks & drives like new!

Here are a few links to share:

TSX Travels Acura Anniversary video that I was honored to be a part of:


Reader’s Ride: Steve’s 1992 Honda Prelude Si

Posted in Prelude, Reader's Ride on March 2, 2017 by tysonhugie

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.

Aztec Green!


Throwback Thursday: Prelude of 15 Years Ago

Posted in Prelude, Throwback on March 12, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,698


Odometer (ILX):  115,966



Let’s wind things way back to the year 2000.  “Y2K,” my friends.  Raise your hand if you remember what a big deal it was… and what a big deal it wasn’t.  I was a senior at Pine View High School (go Panthers!) in St. George, Utah.  I filled up 28 CDs with hundreds of songs I downloaded for free on Napster.  Those CDs, incidentally, are still around!  I’d recently upgraded my 1986 Chevy Celebrity to a fancy sports coupe, my Phoenix Red 1989 Honda Prelude 2.0 Si.

I’ve already blogged about my Prelude ownership history a number of times (1) (2), having gone through nearly a half-dozen of them.  This one, though, was special.  I took pride and joy customizing it the way that any high schooler would:  Big rims, rockin’ stereo, and custom red LED accent lights underneath the dashboard.  It’s a good thing my tastes have matured a little.

So, on a sunny Saturday I headed out to get a few pictures of my Prelude on a remote road toward the old airport on the south end of town.  In January 2000 when these pictures were taken, I’d just turned 18 years old a few weeks prior.  My Prelude was already on its second set of custom wheels, some 16″ 5-spoke Enkeis that I got from my brother Bentley.  And that license plate – 4CRUIZN – became my signature nameplate for years to come.  Even today, my posts on many car forums and even my YouTube account are searchable by that name.


OEM Half-Bra, and one – two – three – yes, four foglights.  Hey, I was 18.  Don’t judge.


That sticker on the rear window said “Injen.”  It’s a company that made performance air intake systems.  Except, my Prelude was equipped with no such product.  For some reason I just felt inclined to advertise for them.


I think the rear 3/4 shot was perhaps the most flattering for this car.  Though, I do miss pop-up headlights.


In all honesty, I think those 3rd generation Preludes are just as fun to drive as my current Acura NSX.  And even back then, I was racking up a few miles and taking note when big milestones happened, like this 150,000 rollover shot.


Not even 6 months later, I’d upgraded to even bigger wheels and this awful Wings West spoiler.  Let’s not even get started on the white tuxedo, skater shoes, and frosted hair tips.


I’ve shared this before, but it’s been about a year ago.  Honda loved my Prelude / tux pictures so much that they used one of them in a national TV commercial.

My phone blew up for a few weeks while it was airing.  I loved it.






Haha, my friends are the best.  And little did I know that little red Honda would be seen by so many people, so many years later.  Meanwhile, as long as we’re back in Y2K, look at what my mom was driving at the time.  This was her 1993 Acura Legend L sedan, which I’ve also blogged about before.


Those were 16″ “Optima” polished aluminum 7-spokers, and let’s not forget to take note of the chrome fender accent pieces.


Mom’s plate “GOTIAGO” was a continuation of her old 1990 Integra‘s “C TIA GO.”


Family road trip to Bear Lake, at the Utah/Idaho state line, later that same year.


Hard to believe that 15 years have come and gone!  Thanks for coming along for my time travels as always.

Coming Attractions:  This just showed up at my house for a week.  I’m planning on getting it dirty.


Throwback Thursday: Tyson’s Trio of Cars, March 2005

Posted in Legend, Prelude, Throwback on September 4, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,504


Odometer (ILX):  94,796



Some people collect coins, or stamps, or baseball cards.  I guess you could say my hoarding tendencies revolve around objects that are a little bit bigger.  I’ve owned multiple cars concurrently for about the last 10 years. 

I don’t remember what compelled me to arrange my 3 cars around my family’s house in St. George, Utah on the morning of March 14, 2005, but I have a series of pictures that were taken with my Canon PowerShot SD400 that are still bringing a smile to my face over 9 years later.  My trio of cars at the time was rather diverse.  Let’s take a closer look at each of them.  To my parents, thanks for putting me up with me driving on the lawn as an eager car-loving 23-year-old.



The 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity has a story all its own, which I’ve shared on the blog before.  Purchased brand new by my parents from Axtell Chevrolet in Logan, Utah, it became my first car about 11 years later.  The Celeb was my first taste of life on the open road, and I proudly drove it during my sophomore year of high school.  I even dumped $500 into a Maaco paint job and cleaned its 14″ wire wheel hubcaps in a bathtub with a scrub brush.  #OCD

Years later, I bought it back in ragged shape with 194,000 miles on it for a few hundred bucks and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  The sentimental value alone prompted me to scoop it up when I had the opportunity, but my (second) time with it was short-lived.  I got rid of it for $800 and its 2.8 liter carbureted V6 was tired and dying.  The Celebrity has surely by now been scrapped and melted down to liquified steel.  It still holds a special place in my heart.  Though its quirks were many – and every vehicle I’ve owned since has been a far more reliable Honda – it had the comfiest bench seat in the world. 

Confession:  I’m a member of a GM “A-Body” car enthusiast forum.  Yes, there exists such a thing.



One of 5 Honda Preludes I’ve owned, this one was perhaps my favorite:  a Phoenix Red 1991 with 4-wheel-steering.  It had 144,750 miles on the odometer when I bought it in December 2004 for $3,750 with the intention of using it as a “winter beater” at Utah State University and keeping the Legend in storage. Key hand-off!  I still have that hooded sweatshirt…


Dare I say, that Prelude handled as nimbly as my current NSX and the driving experience was damn near just as fun.  This car, however, sucked my wallet dry.  Having purchased the car with zero maintenance history, it succumbed to a timing belt failure and ended up requiring a new engine right away due to bent valves.  I also dumped a few dollars into an adjustable coilover suspension and those oh-so-flashy 16″ chrome 5-spokers.  I was struggling to juggle cars around and too tied up with full-time college and work to devote to the Prelude, so I put a “For Sale” sign in it at a car show.  It sold that very same day for quite a bit over book value.  Oddly enough, I bought that car back years later, too.  What is it with me and never being able to fully let go? 



The 1994 LS coupe was just a wee babe, with 164,660 miles on the odometer when this photoshoot took place.  I’d upgraded the car at some point with brighter headlights, Catz XLO foglights (later swapped for OEM), and some Ebay-riffic clear corner lenses.  Don’t judge me; I was in my 20’s and still had a bit of “boy racer” in me.  I’d had the car for only two years and intended to keep it awhile, but probably never dreamed I’d still be driving it 9 years later.

So, here we go with my morning photoshoot from the mid-2000’s!


What were the neighbors thinking as I scampered around arranging these?


1991, 1994, and 1986 respectively.  Will vinyl roofs ever come back?


Yes, my friends, my license plate on the Celebrity said “HUGGIE’S.”  Laugh it up!


Back when a half-bra was all the rage.


Doors open for artistic effect.  Or something.


Oops, I was missing some hubcaps on the Celeb.


My babies.


Nice shot of the 4WS in action.  Check out that back tire!  The 1988-1991 Prelude with this option handled like nothing else.  I could U-turn anywhere.


License plates, read left to right:  HUGGIE’S 4CRUIZN UTAHST8.  (I was attending Utah State Univ at the time)


Okay, that velour interior on the Celebrity.  SO PLUSH.  Comfortable seating for 6.


Thanks for taking a drive with me down Memory Lane.

Ryan Rendezvous, Million Mile Miata, & Jason’s Journey

Posted in Prelude, Reader's Ride on May 23, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  79,776


Odometer (Legend):  529,586


Happy Friday!

As I prepare for a road trip departure on this upcoming 3-day weekend, I’ve got a 3-part feature for your Friday serving of Drive to Five.

I’ve met some pretty dang cool people through this crazy car community over the years.  Ryan and I ‘met’ (online, anyway) via a website called Prelude Power.  Around 2007-08, I had a project car 1991 Prelude Si 4WS.  Ryan owned the same car and we liked keeping each other updated.  His car looked like this:


Ryan is from South Dakota but he and his dad visited the Phoenix area about 5 1/2 years ago and I met up with them.  Here’s the picture we took on November 12, 2008.  We stood in front of the Legend, of course, which had around 349,000 miles on it at the time.


This week, Ryan’s back in town so he stopped by for a visit last night.


Ryan still has his Prelude, but it’s come a long way in the last few years.  Such a long way, in fact, that Honda Tuning Magazine did a feature story on it a couple of months ago.  Here’s a link to some tech specs on Ryan’s build from the Honda Tuning website.



Ryan took the wheel of the NSX for a spin around the block.  We both commented on how much the NSX feels a lot like a Prelude with its nimble handling, great visibility, and precise shifting.


We also took the ILX for a spin to grab a bite to eat.


Thanks for the visit, Ryan and Emily!


Million Mile Miata – here’s something you all might enjoy.  Sometime last fall, Road & Track editor Zach Bowman picked up a < $2k craigslist ‘beater’ that he’s determined to drive to 1,000,000 miles.  It had 325,000 on it and needed its fair share of maintenance.  A few days ago he rolled 330,000 in the middle of the night, somewhere in Texas.

I’m not totally sure what Zach’s objective of this exercise will be, other than to push his little 1990 Mazda Miata until its odometer rolls over, but that’s a good enough reason for me to (and hopefully some of you!) tune in.  You can follow Zach’s travels via the Million Mile Miata Facebook page.


Here’s a little more background on how the MMM idea got its start.  Good luck, Zach!  I’d love to meet you the next time you’re rolling through Arizona!


On a related subject of long-distance road-tripping:  I’m insanely jealous right now.  My friend Jason (who you’ll remember from the recent Canyon de Chelly road trip) is currently on a 17-state, 5,000-mile road trip across the country in his black 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6-speed.  Check out this picture taken yesterday, just outside Amarillo, Texas.  It looks like a pretty barren landscape, except for those specks along the horizon.


Those specks are actually 10 Cadillacs buried in the ground, at an angle, that have been spray-painted over and over again by tourists.  This is the Cadillac Ranch.


I don’t know how much access Jason will have to a computer during his trip, but keep an eye on his website, Driven for Drives.  I’ll do my best to share bits & pieces of his story as he sends them to me, too.

Safe travels, Jason!  And to any others of you who are out on the roadways this weekend.

Flashback Friday: First Driver License

Posted in Legend, Prelude, Throwback on April 18, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,215


Odometer (ILX):  74,337


Oh my.  I came across a color copy of this 1990’s artifact the other day.  Issued the last day of 1997, I was 5-foot-8 and 130 pounds of ear-to-ear grinning 16-year-old.  I’m pretty sure I bolted from the DMV and did a few cartwheels in the process as I was finally a fully legalized driver.


While we’re looking back, here’s a shot from around that same era.  My 1989 Honda Prelude 2.0 Si at the time was equipped with some blingin’ 15″ Optima wheels.  Mom’s 1993 Acura Legend L was looking pretty fly, too.  This was taken in 1998 at my grandparents’ cabin near Elk Meadows Ski Resort in the mountains east of Beaver, Utah.


I also scanned this beauty from around the same time.  Grandma’s Chevy Beretta.  It was a 1990, I think?  I loved that car, and actually I still find Berettas attractive when I see them on the road.  Call me crazy.


I finally got around to test-fitting an OEM Legend coupe cover that my friend Mark gave me several weeks ago.


All bundled up!  Perfect fit, just as I expected.  Thanks, Mark!


My friend Chris in NJ tipped me off on this stunning Crystal Black Pearl 2014 Acura ILX, customized by Acura of Pembroke Pines, Florida.  It’s sitting on 19″ Vossen wheels and stanced with Eibach lowering springs.


Absolutely gorgeous!  And, it’s already been sold to a lucky owner.  It’s amazing how a few subtle updates will really make a car “pop.”


I’m off to Utah until Sunday for some family festivities, so stay tuned for a trip write-up in the coming days.  The ILX is closing in on the 25,000 mile home stretch to its first 100,000.  Thanks for joining me on the way there!

Honda’s “Thank You” Ad

Posted in Prelude on October 28, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  527,600


Odometer (ILX):  57,227


This was a fun way to start my morning!

Honda has launched a new ad campaign called “Start Something Special” and one of the TV spots that will kick it off is this 30-second clip with a quick cameo appearance of me standing with my pride & joy 1989 Prelude.  I was a senior in high school and had just gotten dressed up for that night’s prom.  White tux – check.  White skater shoes – check.  Prelude with more “bling bling” chrome than Vegas?  Also check.


Those were simpler times.  Many moons ago when I ordered that Utah “4CRUIZN” license plate, I never thought I’d be “CRUIZN” toward 500,000 miles a decade later in an Acura.  Nor could I have known that Honda HQ would have any such interest in using the picture for marketing.  But hey, I was thrilled to oblige!


Though my taste in cars (and fashion) has changed a bit since I was 17 years old, my commitment to the Honda brand remains ever-strong, and I’m glad to thank Honda back for the many miles of travels that the company’s well-built cars have provided me.


Our family’s garage in the late 1990’s did indeed look something like a Honda used car lot.


  • My 1989 Honda Prelude 2.0 Si
  • My brother’s 1984 Honda Civic 1500 S
  • My mom’s 1993 Acura Legend L sedan
  • My project car 1988 Acura Legend L sedan


It’s hard to believe that was 15 years ago!  I’ll close with a text conversation thread from a dialogue today with an old friend who I haven’t spoken with in at least a couple of years.


Out of the blue, an “Are you married to your car?” comment.  The answer is yes, my friend.  And we’ll live happily ever after.   The End.