The Honda Prelude horde:
When I was a little kid there were neighbors with teenage boys who were always driving around some really cool cars. The gas crunch was in full effect so there were other neighbors trying to keep their Simca's and Opels running. Another neighbor drove dragsters at a local race track when he wasn't driving his proffesional motorcycle racing kids to race tracks across the state.
The common thread was a NASCAR race blaring out of portable AM radios every Sunday.
I think the day I saw a neighbor pull up to his son and roll down the electric window of his air conditioned Camaro revealing the smell of leather seats.. that was it... a luxury hot rod was the ultimate idea of a perfect car for me. But I was like 8 years old.
Enter adulthood and I began restoring old Fords on a low budget. I was raising kids on a low end government wage while paying for a money pit old house I could barely afford. So even though my cars were 'cream puffs' at 25+ years old, they were also prone to frequent breakdowns as they were cars that had sat idle for a decade plus and were mostly original parts.
Time passed and reliable transportation took precedence. But my oldest was ready for his first car. Now I remembered riding in cramped little riding lawn mower sized Hondas that never broke as a teen. And my son had set his sites on a compact sports car for his first. At that time it seemed every small car of any stature had watermelon shooter sized tail pipes spewing out burping sounds while duct taped parts n pieces flopped around in the breeze. So I tried diligently to convince him the luxury hot rod was the way to go. Zooming in comfort and style is cool. One day he bought a 1991 Prelude that didn't run. The day it was trailored to the house changed his life and mine. It was a beautiful car. Shiney black metal flake, electric windows and air conditioniing. Hmmmm
Armed with a small sack of bicycle tools quickly resulted in hiring a tow truck to a place where a cracker-jack mechanic got it going by replacing an alternator installed backward. We had replaced fuses and when the car was fired up the alternator caught fire in like 3 seconds. For clarity, to this day I do not know howthehell the op had installed the alternator backwards... they only fasten one way but anyway...
The car was quickly becoming a money pit. My son had a low wage job so 'ole pop' was paying for repairs all too often. Together we set out for better. I found an imaculate Prelude that had been completely restored stem to stern with super nice upgrades. The owner was in a hurry to sell and when I waved a stack of $100 bills in his face he quickly signed the title.
I used to ride in the 91 listening to sounds and noises my son was concerned about. After driving pickups and vans for a decade getting in and out of the Prelude was difficult for my aging-fat carcass. But the day we bought Prelude #2 I had ridden with my son. So I had to drive Prelude #1 home while he drove his new one. Man it was like my first go kart ride as a kid. "I want one of these." Well being I had bought Prelude #2 and my son was going to pay me back I just traded his for mine after driving #2 a few minutes.
A few months later Prelude #2 was murdered by a red light runner who hit the rear end with a brush guard clad flat bed tow truck. We coulda (and now woulda) fixed it but had no clue how to nor the tools to do it. So he drove Prelude #1 while searching for Prelude #3. One night he asked me to go with him to look at one. We met the guy and my son wanted the car. It was a radical-ized version that was in my view too hot for him to handle back then. So I bought it. Not long after he found Prelude #4. Another restored version of Prelude #2. Only this one was even better equipped with authentic JDM goodies and tasteful mods.... and a pickup load of extra parts. Then I was graced to find a lifetime garaged 91 that needed an engine. Prelude #5. Shortly after a neighbor was selling her one owner 91. Prelude #6.
Content with Prelude #4 my son was asked at a car show if he wanted to buy a 2001 loaded with nice parts, but a botched engine rebuild. The freakin' hood was worth more than the owner was asking. Nobody at the show would even take the car for free. At 10 pm I'm at a car show telling my son "if you don't buy it I am". Prelude #7.
I was the owner of three, working almost constantly and they were falling apart faster than I could fix 'em. Not satisfied with paying a shop to keep them going I decided it was time to thin the herd. I had traded my Prelude (#3) to my son for Prelude #1 again. I had given it back to him between the murder of #2 and sourced #4.
I gave him Preludes 5 & 6 for #3. He needed capital for another engine for #7 and #4 was fine for transportation until then. #3 just sat collecting bird poop. He sold #6 for motor money and mothballed #5. Remember #5 had always been garaged and I had set about doing a makeover to that one.
So I resumed restoring #3 finding all those radicalized add ons were haphazardly installed. I was going back factory with some tasteful sleeper mods. My son was methodically learning how to pluck an engine from a car about a year after learning how to change his own oil. He was an electrical whiz, but lacked the raw strength to unfasten stuck on bolts. I told him I'd break loose the hard stuff if he'd allow me to restore the engine bay once the motor was out. My goal was to have it appear like it had just left a race shop with lots of dark grays and flat black faces everywhere.
One day we plucked the old engine out. I cleaned that engine bay to a sparkle but there were lots of broken fasteners and rusty screws. It took me about a month but it looked great. Meanwhile we rebuilt the replacement engine leaving in the stock pistons and rings. Compression was like new so we left well enough alone. Then one weekend 2 friends pulled a marathon assembly process of installing everything on the motor with a new clutch and such.
A couple of things went wrong, but being we'd been going 30 straight hours at the end it was bound to happen. Once the motor was planted we took our time ensuring everything was torqued proper, fastened correctly and shined up all spiffy and new looking. Prelude #7 was on the road.
When that one was done I spent about a hundred days on Prelude #3 fixing all those rigged items. But soon after a mystery coolant loss developed so #3 is mothballed until..
Lately we've resumed a methodical resto of #5 affectionately called "Lucky". See the owner rescued that one from the hauler taking it to the junkyard. A blown head gasket was the reason. So he replaced that and soon after it was plagued with 2 busted main bearings. I paid a guy to swap in a running engine and now we are doing cosmetic improvements to the outside of the engine along with chasing an idling issue. See Lucky is one of those cars that when something goes wrong it's never textbook.
So we'll solve that mystery and complete the process of electrical restoration of Prelude #4 after the original owner had done some shortcuts when installing all those JDM goodies. Most of those were sold to pay for stuff #7 was going to receive as part of the motor swap. Instead it's getting more stock as time goes by. And I'm so dang anal about properly replacing stuff it takes a lot more time fix things, partly because... frankly I'd never done it before.
Now my son has his sites set on Honda S2000's while I contemplate installing a turbo charged Ford 5.0 in a Mazda Miata...
The red arrows point to cars bought by neighbors shortly after beinging home #3.