Forgotten Technology: 1988 Honda Prelude Si 4WS

This 1988 Honda Prelude is from a time when Honda, and Japanese auto manufacturers in general, were pushing the envelope in what they could deliver to the customer with the highest build quality but at the most accessible price possible.

Some fruits of their labor? 4-wheel steering. They debuted this brilliant feature on the third generation Prelude produced from 1988-1991, the first production car to ever offer it. Essentially, turning the steering wheel pivoted not just the front wheels but also the rear wheels in tandem. It was an entirely mechanical setup too, meaning no reliance on computers, and added only 51 extra pounds of weight to the car.

The handling of this otherwise sedate front-wheel drive car was transformed, eliminating body roll and creating near-ideal handling in lane maneuvering - at any speed. I have read that it feels like the car is sliding at first, before you realize you're actually in complete control. Combined with the 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder engine that produced 135 horsepower against the car's modest 2,600 lb. weight, the Prelude 4WS was a standout performer. During a Road & Track test the Prelude 4WS won the Slalom by completing it at 65.5 mph - faster than any other car, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche included.

This car also has a 5-speed manual transmission. Talk about the perfect package.

The seller states this example up for sale runs and drives good, with no leaks in the moonroof, one body ding and good tires and brakes. They also say they have a clean title in hand.

From the pictures, it looks like a typical used Honda, which is totally fine and expected, especially in this car. I do notice that the lug nut covers are missing, however, a minor gripe, but I would track down replacements if the seller doesn't have them for some odd reason.

I really dig the styling of this generation Prelude. It's slightly more refined than the first generation. Honda would further tweak this car for 1990, and it got even better looking with a revised front end where the turn signals and driving lights were housed in a single strip like a Ferrari. But this '88 model is just fine. This is from a time when designers were thinking as much about practicality and functionality as beauty - and, surprise, surprise - beauty often followed functionality quite well. Note the super-thin pillars for maximum visibility, giving the car a nifty look with all the greenhouse glass. The pop-up headlights are a given for this era too, but they are perfectly fitting the gently sloping face and athletic credentials of the car. The rear is also nicely shaped, with a broad taillights strip. I like how the body color against the taillights form a yellow to red gradient.

The seller states they want $2,500 or best offer, but no low ballers. Low ballers? How can you go any lower? They don't mention the miles, but the body looks good otherwise. Supposing there's no rust, this is definitely worth $2,500. Hop in, drive, enjoy, then restore it with fresh paint, tuneup and maybe leather seats or seat covers. You'll be the only person on the road with 4-wheel steering and you'll tell the difference, too. To me, that's damn near priceless. Thank you Honda. Now if only they could start acting like the company you used to be.

 Find it here on craigslist in Hoquiam, Washington.

No comments:

Post a Comment