By on June 12, 2014

11 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe first-gen Honda Prelude didn’t sell particularly well in the United States, being very small and not particularly quick for a sporty car, but it had Accord reliability and some examples managed to survive on the street for decades. In this series, we’ve seen this ’81 and this ’82— both silver cars with red interiors— and today we’ve got another ’82… in silver, with red interior.
07 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBelieve it or not, this vacuum-hose tangle got even more complex as the early 1980s became the middle 1980s. This is the relatively simple non-CVCC, 49-state version.
05 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, these engines worked pretty well. Once rigorous emissions checks became standard in many states, though, it became a nightmare to get these cars to pass.
01 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWas any other color interior even available on the early Prelude?

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67 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Honda Prelude...”


  • avatar
    zach

    I had a 1988 Accord in high school, it had just as many or more vacuum hoses, and I’m pretty sure it was fuel injected.

    • 0 avatar
      jdash1972

      Carbureted, 98HP, unless you had the top of the line LXi version, which was indeed fuel injected. Those were good cars, mine went almost 300,000 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        zach

        Yep you’re rights, it was an LX, a coupe actually . I rarely saw the coupe version, it was a great car, I loved the flip up headlights.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        My 87 LX is still doing pizza delivery duty, as it was reported to me by friends. I sold it in the late 90s and it had 250k on it by then.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        Amazing cars. Had an ’87 LXi sedan (gold with Shit Brown interior) that went well over 200k before I sold it for something with actual crash protection. I know it was on the road for at least a few years after that.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      My mom taught me how to drive a manual on our ’88 Accord LX. Fond memories of that car. Last Accord with pop-up headlights! The sound they made going up and down was great. No airbags, though, and instead there was a small storage shelf on the passenger side dashboard.

    • 0 avatar
      cls12vg30

      If you had a 1988 USDM Accord DX like I did, then it was definitely carburated, and it was a nightmare. Mine was the hatchback, and it got me all the way through college, but not without some effort. It took me days to track down a faulty vacuum check valve in the carb pre-heating system. When it failed, and it got below 50 degrees F with any sort of moisture in the air, the venturi chamber would ice up at highway speeds, leading to me sitting by the side of the Interstate waiting for the stupid thing to melt.

  • avatar
    jimble

    A friend of mine had one of these and loved it, but its relaxed acceleration earned it the nickname Quaalude.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    At the concours I went to this past Sunday, a man had a very first generation Civic Coupe, in bright orange with black interior. I couldn’t believe how tiny the thing was. Little spare tire was beneath the rear hatch, and had a special door which opened up just for it. I believe the plaque in front of it said less than 600 of them exist today. It was brilliant looking! There was a C-pillar emblem which said COUPE in nice font.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also, I want this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Civic_(second_generation)#mediaviewer/File:Honda_CIVIC_COUNTRY_in_the_Honda_Collection_Hall.JPG

  • avatar
    danio3834

    My cousin had an ’86 Honda Quaalude. I remember it being unusual in the late 80′s in a Big 3 town. Coming out of a 1978 Thunderbird, he regularly praised the Prelude’s handling virtues.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Guh, what a mess those things were, I had an 84.5 Accord for a minute that I bought for $500. I got lax on the registration and the city towed it off, and that was that. I will say that the car started every time, It might not have stayed running always but it would start. Plus it had the coldest AC I’d ever felt, the AC in our house didn’t work so we’d sit for hours in the Accord. Not great memories.

  • avatar

    I always had a soft spot for the ’88-91 Prelude. Clean looks, decent power (for the era) and the handling was a revelation for a FWD car.

    • 0 avatar
      zach

      And the all wheel steering.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Did that break frequently, like the active steering/suspension Infinitis did?

        • 0 avatar
          Preludacris

          Typically outlasts the car.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            So I suppose it was dropped due to the costs associated with it, and the limited value percieved by the customer?

            It didn’t last long on the Denali trucks either.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            It was part of the late ’80s trend towards rear steering in sports cars. 3rd-gen Predule used a straight mechanical setup, while gen4 went to a hydraulic system more similar to the Nissan HICAS system. Problem with rear steering was that it was generally unappreciated by the market, and people who did pay for it found that handling could be twitchy in some situations.

  • avatar
    Fred

    It was the Prelude that first got me into a Honda dealer for a test drive. Their rather rude response was give us some money and we will order you one. I’ve gotten over it but I wouldn’t look at Honda’s for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      I wanted one of these back in 1984. There was a waiting list about 70-100 deep at my local Honda dealer.

      They we getting about $2,000.00 over list for these things at the time. Without exception.

      I ended up buying a Nissan 200SX Turbo hatchback. Fun car, but hard to get a child seat into the back seat after my daughter was born later.

      Traded it after 4 years for a 1988 Ford Aerostar Eddie Bauer van. Nice van.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Ahhh… Eddie Bauer Aerostar.

        With that little info screen above the rear view mirror, and the ever-awesome pine tree details on the seats?

        The high life, indeed.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I have a soft spot for all early Toyota’s and Honda’s.

    Not sure if Ford, Chrysler, or particularly, GM, was even taking these guys seriously yet in 1982. I would have loved to witness the impact firsthand that the early Japanese imports made on The Big Three.

    I’m sure it was something like this: laugh/joke, denial, laugh/joke, no worries, laugh/joke- Oh Sh*t…

    Look, GM! Have a look see! This is what quality design, build quality, and efficiency looks like! Shake hands! Learn something!

    I even heard the boys at Honda sent GM an engine to tinker with. Not sure if they learned anything or not, but I would have loved to been a fly on the wall as GM took it apart.

    Fast forward years later: enjoy sharing the American car market with your Japanese brethren :P

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Nearly this exact car is a DD parked in my neighborhood in Northwest Philly, in FAR better condition.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    My next door neighbor got a 78 with a two tone paint job and a graphics package new. Those mirrors reminded me of it. She laughed when we called it slow and said “not on the twistys” Her hubby had an older 911, and must not have been very good with it, because she shamed him in the hills and never let him live it down.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’m another who had a friend who had a silver on red ’81 Prelude, also commonly referred to as the Quaalude. His had the 2-speed Honda-matic – oh baby, what a performance machine. The color was actually silver and rust, as it looked like it had sat at the bottom of Casco Bay for a year or so. How it passed inspection was a great mystery, but its demise came when he went over some rough railroad tracks a bit too fast and it literally cracked in half under the front seats! Buckled the roof, and the doors had to be shouldered open. I was with him at the time. And he is a slower driver than James May, so it was not a case of hooning gone astray. The loud SCRAAAAAAAPPPPEEEE noise as the floor hit the street is etched permanently in my mind.

  • avatar
    zach

    This car pre dated “You pay MSRP or you leave” Honda dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      Yes, yes… “No Hassle Pricing”?

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Well deserved. By the early ’80s Japanese product was completely superior to the American offerings; they were already a threat, thus the Voluntary Import Quotas. Whether a Toyota or Honda, and to a lesser extent Nissan and Mazda, paying MSRP was not unusual. New models often went over MSRP, especially on the coasts and in urban areas.

        The domestic competition? Ford EXP, Cavalier coupe, Omni TC3. The Toyotas and Hondas just felt more sophisticated in so many different ways…

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      This ‘Lude’ didn’t predate the MSRP period by much. I was lucky enough to work in an Oregon Honda dealer during that time, and it was surreal compared to other car lines. The rule was MSRP at the time of delivery, and many of the different models had waiting lists. We started buying more used cars just to have something on the lot for all but the two-three days of the month when the car transporters arrived. The sign in the showroom window said, “we’re not out of business, just out of cars”. When the redesigned Civic models and brand new CRX’s were introduced for 1984, it got so bad that American Honda sent us examples of each without certificates of origin, just so dealers would have something to show buyers. We weren’t allowed to sell them for several months until a sufficient supply came to the port.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My 1997 Jetta VR6 has vacuum lines, which it uses to activate and deactivate the door locks. Fortunately, they are run by an electric pump, and not by the engine. I’m told a lot of older Mercedes-Benz models (like the W123) also had vacuum-operated locks.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      My first car 1959 Ford Fairlane had vacuum operated wipers. Unfortuantly operated by the engine and everytime I stepped on the gas the wipers would stop. While climbing a hill in the rain I’d have to let off the gas to get a wipe or two.

      Also my early Elan uses vacuum to open the headlight pods. A little scary at night again while going up a hill and the lights start to dip.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      My Audi 5000 had them. Due to leaks, sometimes the car would lock itself immediately and other times it would take a while to build up enough suction to do it. Other times, two or three doors would lock. After a while I knew the particular sound each door lock made, and I could go put things in the car later without needing a key.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I sometimes wonder what it says about German engineers that they found it easier to utilize air pressure differences than electricity.

        • 0 avatar
          PunksloveTrumpys

          Haha, I wondered that many times while I owned an ’80 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL. It had a vacuum pump in the boot which activated the door locks, heater fan adjustment and headlight leveling.

          That said, those old German cars were built every bit as well as legend would have us believe. The vacuum lines and their connections were made from very high quality materials, as were the switches that activated the pump. I pulled out the heater fan switch once and thought it resembled an oven knob from a 1950s stove. Literally solid steel and hugely thick wires/vacuum pipes connected to it.

          Backward design philosophy perhaps, but good God did they build those quirks well.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      Hi, Kyree,

      My 94 Jetta had those same bizarre door locks.

      I remember it took a bit more force than usual to push them down (lock them) from the inside, and extra force pulling them up (unlocking them) as well. Suppose that pressure was from the air/pressure in the lines?

      Weird Jetta voo-doo mystery locks, indeed.

      Although I rather enjoyed locking the doors with the key from the driver’s door. Once locked, the little red indicator lock would blink next to the push lock itself. And unlocking them, of course, while holding the key allllll the way to one side would slide open the power moonroof.

      I thought that was about as hip as hip could be at the time.

      Neat cars, in my humble opinion.

      But I won’t discuss the VDO gauge cluster malfunctions, frequent hesitation issues (never-ending, rather), and magnificent puddles of water on the passenger floor board (from you know what).

  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    Had two Civics of this era, an ’81 Wagon and an ’83 hatchback. Both had the same Graceland Special interior shade. Both were still amazing cars that kept running long after I got tired of them.

  • avatar
    cirats

    I had an ’84 Accord coupe (auto) in high school, which I traded up to an ’87 Prelude (5 spd.) when I got a scholarship to go to college. Loved that car for 8 years until I traded up to a ’92 (I think) Legend sedan with 5-spd., which I loved driving for the next 4 or 5 years. The Prelude will probably go down as my 2nd favorite car ever, just behind an E36 M3 sedan I had from 2005 to 2012. I always buy used, if you can’t tell.

    Man, I’d love to get ahold of one of those small, lightweight fun-to-drive, easy-to-see-out-of cars again. I feel like everything today is so bloated, even compared to the Legend.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I had one of these for a short while in the mid 90′s, before selling it back to the guy I bought it off, because I had no room for it (or any money, or even a license) Brilliantly fun car by european standards, better build quality, and felt stronger than european 1.6 engines from the time (the 5 speed may have helped a bit, 4 speeds were the norm here in the early 80′s)
    Me and my brother also ‘inherited’ my dads last car (he has only driven motorcycles the last 20 years), a Honda Quintet which had the same engine, transmission and 4 wheel macpherson struts, but two more doors and a hatch (and a functional rear seat)
    Not the easiest car to work on with our huge european hands, but very clevery put together. Being made of tin foil made them very light, but also very weak against rust (surface rust usually ment there was a hole right through it)

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    I’m currently driving this very car as my summer DD in MN. It’s a CA car that never saw a flake of snow, hence no rust. Have had it for two years and it’s been reliable all around (minus some carb adjustments). Even with the automatic (not my first choice), I merge pretty easily onto the highway and it’s plenty fun to toss it around. I get comments at least 3-4 times a week. These cars disappeared from the road years ago, at least here in the upper Midwest, so seeing one is rare.

    Hondas from the 70′s and early 80′s are what got the company noticed here. They certainly made improvements afterwards — and also lost thee way at times in the past decade. It took years for the American car companies to build something as fun and reliable as this car.

  • avatar

    The front end is right from the AMC pacer.

  • avatar
    davew833

    I still have nightmares about the Keihin 3-barrel carbs and associated emissions plumbing that Honda used in the early ’80s. I still love old Hondas, I currently have three 1989 Accord coupes- two LXI’s and one SEi, but I won’t touch anything pre- 1986 that’s not fuel injected. Ugh!

    The Prelude really hit its stride with the 2nd generation- 1983-87. Still a good- looking design and pretty fun with a 5 speed.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    There is a blue one that I see parked down the street from time to time. It has a gray interior, not red! Ironically it has an identical dent on the right front fender. Those must’ve been factory induced.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Didn’t Triumph sell a version of this as the Acclaim?

  • avatar
    dannew02

    My 2nd car was an 81 Prelude like this. Mine was dark blue (and rust!) with an “Ivory” interior and 5-speed. It was 7-8 years old when I got it, with 99K. The AC never worked when I had it. And, unlike everybody else I heard about with the “legendary Japanese Reliablilty”, pretty much every week something else broke on my Prelude. The radiator split open, the water pump quit, then the heater core broke and shot coolant all over the interior. Then, the heater control valve broke, and I couldn’t get any heat into the interior. THe car burned a quart of oil every 500 or so miles, and got worse. ONe of the front fenders almost fell off due to the rust. THe master cylinder failed. THe headlight switch melted, and I couldn’t turn on the headlights (or use the turn signals) On and on and on… I kept getting things fixed, until one day I leaned on the front bumper and it fell off. I had it towed away and bought an Escort. (Which ended up at the junkyard with less than 80K on it, which is another story…)
    SO yeah, my Dad had a diesel-powered Oldsmobile he put close to 200K on it, and I got the ONE lemon Honda in the USA. Go figure.


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