Silver Survivor: 1981 Honda Prelude 5-Speed – Sold?

by | Sep 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

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October 23, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Building off the growing success of its Accord, Honda introduced the Prelude Sport Coupe to the American market in 1979. Pitched as a sports car for adults, the trademark feature of Honda’s new car was its standard power moonroof, a feature that would remain in place for all five generations.  As with most Hondas, the first-generation Prelude earned a reputation for great reliability and low maintenance costs. Its Achilles Heel was the car’s propensity to rust, making them very hard to come by. On the rare occasions we do spot one, it’s usually a rust-free western example with the interior in an advanced state of decay.

This silver over red velour 1981 Honda Prelude, originally listed in September 2022 on Craigslist in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, appears to be a 113,000 original mile survivor.  The bonus is that this example features the desirable 5-Speed manual transmission.  Given the exterior and interior conditions, we suspect prior owners kept this Prelude sheltered from the harsh New England winters.  You’ll need to confirm with the seller how their Prelude is in great condition today.

Currently offered for $7,995,, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is slightly above the five-year rolling average of this guide’s summary for first-generation Honda Preludes produced between 1978 and 1982.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can navigate to each comparable car sold as a way to help you evaluate the price of the truck featured here:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $5,850 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $9,400.

Hoping to capitalize on the growing sport compact market, Honda introduced the Prelude in its home market in 1978 and then later in the U.S. in the spring of 1979.  The Prelude featured a unique body style and chassis design that was lower and wider than the two-door Accord of the period.  However, Honda engineers borrowed the Accord’s four-wheel independent struts, brakes, and power train for their new long hood, short deck sport coupe.

The Prelude was the first Honda model to offer a power moonroof as standard equipment, eventually becoming a Prelude trademark. In Japan, the Prelude was available with a sliding metal sunroof, while US versions received a glass top which freed up more headroom. The Prelude and Accord were also the first under two-liter powered cars to feature power steering as an available option.

By the time it launched in the U.S., the Prelude featured Honda’s 1.8 Liter EK inline-four producing 72 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 94 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm. The EK engine used an engine oil cooler and transistor-controlled ignition system. This 1980 Honda Prelude commercial is a classic example of how Honda, through voice-over provided by actor Burgess Meredith, marketed the first generation Prelude as the Sports Car For Adults:

Read the seller’s description, and you quickly realize they likely bought this non-running Prelude in Nevada back in June for practically nothing, hauled it back to the east coast, and then proceeded to do an admirable job bringing the car back to life and getting it sorted to the point of being roadworthy again. Unfortunately, we predict the seller’s optimistic dreams of making a big profit on this car won’t come true.  At best, they will be lucky to break even on their Weber carburetor and Hancook tire investment.

The Classic Cars Today YouTube Channel features this 1981 Honda Prelude commercial narrated by actor Burgess Meredith:

This 1981 Honda Prelude appears to be a nicely maintain low-mileage survivor that has held up well. Given the red velour interior condition, we suspect this car benefits from being garaged for most of its life, but you’ll need to confirm that with the seller.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1981 Honda prelude 4cly 5speed very clean original condition. Great on gas mileage. Runs great. Will consider trading old cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, or tractors. Call me.​

Show or go: What would you do with this 1981 Honda Prelude survivor?  Please comment below and let us know!


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