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Run_Away HalfDork
5/20/18 3:05 p.m.

Hey GRM, I've got another project on the go and thought I should share it here as well. First, ket me try to explain what this car means to me.

This one is a long time coming. I was super into cars from a young kid. Not sure where I got it from, nobody in my family is into them. For my first car I flew out to my uncle's farm in southern Ontario and worked there for the summer. This was the summer of 2004. As payment for my work my uncle tracked my hours and helped me buy my first car. I really wanted a Nissan 240SX, but was also considering a Honda Civic or a Chevy C10 (I had fallen in love with the old brown on tan 1980 scrap truck that was on the farm).  After looking at a few rusty Civics, a very rust 240SX, a very high mile 240SX, and a worn out 2nd gen Prelude, we settled on this car. My uncle gave $2150 for it I believe.

Aug 29th, 2004


It was a 1990 Prelude SR 4WS with 175,000kms at a 5 speed manual. A couple days after that picture was taken 16 year old me drove it 2,000 kms over 2 days home to Winnipeg all by myself. Looking back I can't believe my parents let me do that. The car had it's issues, namely burning a quart of oil with every tank of gas, a grindy gearbox, and while it looks good in that picture above the rust from Ontario's salted roads soon exploded. My best friend's family was into buying wrecks from the insurance auctions, and the next summer I dragged this car home.

Aug 25th 2005

A 1991 Prelude SR-SE with 149,000kms and an automatic transmission. I bought it because 17 year old me was excited about the "SE" trim level, which was available only in Canada and only in the 1991 model year. They came with special colours, leather interior (not available in North America unless dealer installed) the 4WS system in addition to the "ALB" package. Normally in North America you could get either the four wheel steering package or the anti-lock brake package, but not both. This is the only trim level that had it, and it's pretty rare. I don't really care about it now, but 17 year old me thought it was a major deal. Progress on this car took many years before it was driving again.


Late October 2005 shortly after graduating high school I also bought this car off a local forum. I was delivering pizza part-time and working at a small restoration shop during the day.

It's a 1989 Prelude 2.0Si 4WS with a blown automatic trans. I don't remember the mileage. This was the first car I modified. I swapped a 5 speed in it, had a shop weld up a 2.25" cat-back exhaust, swapped the entire interior over from the ugly tan to black, put on an aftermarket front lip, painted the stock wheels, and slammed it on cut lowering springs. In my defense, I didn't realize the springs were cut until I took them off. cheeky


I retired my first car (red '90) when I first got the 5 speed swap on the black '89 completed. Unfortunately, I ended up wrecking the black '89 in the fall of 2007. When I went to bring my red '90 out of retirement, I put a jack stand clear through the rear jacking point from the rust. After taking a good look at the car, I ended up parting it out as there wasn't much that didn't needed attention.


After this I started on a string of Civics while slowly working on the dark blue '91 SE.

June 2007 saw a lot of progress.


But it didn't end up finished and on the road until summer 2010


It was stock down to the automatic trans except for the H&R springs, Konis, Whiteline sway bars, the front lip, and strut tower bars made by a member of the Prelude forums. Also a '88-'89 front end conversion. It made for a nice summer cruiser, though I did press it into autox duty for half a season when my SMF Civic dropped a valve. Managed 2nd place in our local "SP/Mod Street Tire" class that season and the trophy reads "199X Honda Civlude" cheeky


Run_Away HalfDork
5/20/18 3:59 p.m.

So I was never completely happy with the blue '91 SE. I had grand plans to manual swap it and turbocharge it, but I never found the motivation to get started on it. It had a bunch of issues with fitment of the panels at the back end where it was hit, the paint was pretty in pictures but poor in person. Rust was starting to creep back on it too. So it just got driven and enjoyed as it was, but I wanted more.


April 7th 2016 I went to look at a Prelude listed for sale locally.


1991 Prelude 4WS with a blown engine from California, advertised as zero rust. The story was the seller flew down to San Diego in 2011 and bought it from a lady who bought it new in San Diego. While driving back to Winnipeg (that's a 3,228 kms trip!) the engine threw a rod somewhere in Utah I think. He flew home and had the car shipped the rest of the way, where it sat on his parents driveway for 5 years.

The paint was shot, but the underside was extremely clean. I've never seen a 3g Prelude with such a clean underside. The only spot of rust I could find was some bubbling under the passenger quarter window.


Of course I had to have it, so I bought it. For those of you wondering when this thread is going to settle down, here it is. My 4th 3g Prelude, 8th if you count parts cars.

Officially mine, still has the California plates and snow on the ground April 11th 2016.

Robbie PowerDork
5/20/18 6:10 p.m.

Those are some of the best looking preludes I've ever seen. My first car was a prelude too, but 84, and I got it with a blown head gasket which was misdiagnosed as a bad carb (similarly, no one in my immediate family was into cars so I had very little good help). I successfully replaced the carb and got it to run on two cylinders but never finished the hg job.

Mndsm MegaDork
5/20/18 6:24 p.m.

Man, that blue one looked good. 

Carson SuperDork
5/20/18 6:44 p.m.

I love these. In ‘08, I bought an ‘89 2.0S for cheap with a lot of issues for my brother to be his first car. I drove it while I sorted it, it was slow but I loved it.

The ultra thin a-pillar and low hood were/are so awesome. 

I gave it to him on his birthday and a week later he sold it in Craigslist and bought a truck.

Run_Away HalfDork
5/20/18 6:54 p.m.

April 2016 a 3g showed up at the local junkyard. It had been years since there was one there, and there hasn't been once since.


I snagged the transmission, the '88-'89 front bumper setup, and a chunk of quarter panel to fix the bit from the California car. It was a base model '88 with the SOHC carb'd motor so I didn't grab that. No fog lights either.



Pulled the engine on the car. #1 let go. My guess is dealer maintained, you can see the Honda oil filter and the newish water pump. Tbelt was also a Honda part.


Also discovered the car was completely infested with mice while it sat for 5 years. One even died wrapped around the rear engine mount. He was completely dried out.


The engine bay cleaned up really well with a wash. Lots of the factory paint marks still visible everywhere. The A/C system actually still had a bit of charge in it, so I left it intact.


A shot with the two cars together. This shows the differences between the '88-'89 and '90-'91 front ends.


I had a few spare engines stored away for 9 years from when I was younger and went crazy parting out these cars. I wanted an earlier 2.0 engine as they had iron cylinder sleeves vs the FRM ones found on the '90-'91 2.1 engines (also the H22 Preludes, NSX, and S2k later on). Unfortunately while re-gasketing my best candidate a found the pan full of bearing material.


It wasn't knocking, but it looks like I pulled the engine just in time. The culprit is probably this chunk of valve from a cheap oil filter that was partially blocking the oil passageway.


So I hauled out the backup, a JDM B21A. Extremely rare, but identical to the North American version. It got a good cleaning and all new gaskets/belts as well.

Run_Away HalfDork
5/20/18 7:04 p.m.

In reply to Robbie :

That's a huge job, I would never want to deal the carb system on one of these '80s Hondas. Vacuum lines for days!

In reply to Mndsm :

Thanks! The looks are probably one of my favourite parts. They're often overlooked as they have almost zero aftermarket support. The usual Honda crowd shunned them back in the day, they're just starting to be more appreciated now.


In reply to Carson :

Yeah the driving experience is another favourite. The engines are leaned back 18 deg to achieve that low hood line, and it was the lowest hood line of any FWD car what it was new. I'm not sure if anything else was lower afterwards, and certainly nothing modern will be able to come close with todays crash standards.

grover HalfDork
5/20/18 10:21 p.m.

My 88 accord lx-i manual was one of my favorite cars I’ve ever owned. I think this era of Honda was the best in terms of looks. 

MazdaFace HalfDork
5/21/18 4:32 a.m.

Awesome thread. That blue one single handedly changed my opinion on the aesthetics of that gen prelude. Well done sir. 

Run_Away HalfDork
5/21/18 10:36 a.m.

May 17th 2016 engine had fresh seals and consumables, all buttoned up.


Unfortunately it didn't start. Some trouble shooting found no fuel pressure, checking at the pump found no voltage. I was just able to see some chewed wires from down below, but

couldn't actually reach them. The fuel in the tank was very old anyway, so the tank was drained and dropped.


Soldered new wire into the chewed harness.


Buttoned it back up and here's the first start.



Check out the mouse nest that flew out the exhaust! surprise


So with the car running, it was time to do something about the mouse damage and smell.

Carpet and headliner out.


They got EVERYWHERE, I couldn't believe it. I wore gloves and a mask, haven't seemed to die yet.

They even stuffed both frame rails full of crap.

All plastics and carpet, seats etc got soaked with the foam cannon and pressure washed. Then sat out in the sun for a couple of days to dry. The interior panels got scrubbed with Lysol and rinsed out with a garden hose after pulling the plugs on the floor.


Rodulrich New Reader
5/21/18 5:11 p.m.

Awesome progress!  Can't wait to see more.

Run_Away HalfDork
5/22/18 10:18 p.m.

Interior went back together all clean.


Used a piece of coolant hose duct taped to a shop vac and fed it through both rockers to get the mouse mess out. Blow gun to help direct the crap to the suction end. Then hosed everything out with Pene-grease, which sprays on runny but thickens up after a little bit.

The engine light turned out to be two identical connectors on the thermostat housing mixed up, one's a fan switch and the other is the coolant temp sensor for the ECU. Canadian cars don't have the fan switch there.

Swapped the instrument cluster over to KPH and rolled the odo up to match. The original speedo wasn't reading properly (as seen in the startup video).

A new LF upper balljoint and right outer steering rack boot were all it needed mechanically once the engine was running. There are no aftermarket boots available for the right side on 4WS racks, so I ended up salvaging a good used one from a spare I had. Some people end up using a plumbing reducer to make a left side boot fit the right. Parts availability for old cars sucks sometimes!

A head unit with USB input, door speakers, and a shift knob and boot rounded out the interior.


And then it was time to drive! Sept 19 2016 it came home.


I drove it for a few weeks until it got cold enough to threaten snow and parked it for the winter.

Run_Away HalfDork
5/24/18 10:25 p.m.

April 4th 2017

The blue SE was returned to stock and sold to a high school friend of mine for a good deal since I know he'll take care of it.


I decided I was tired of the paint looking like crap on the California car. Waffled between wrapping it, paying to have it painted professionally, or doing a DIY job. Started by attacking the peeling clear with a razor blade.


Also looked into the rust bubbles under the right rear quarter window.  Started with taking off the window trim.....Of course, it's always worse than it looks.


Next thing I know I've got the window out. The rust here is a result of a poorly replaced window, the glass isn't original so someone must have scraped the paint down to bare metal. Time and moisture did the rest.


The chunk of metal I had taken from the junkyard the previous year wasn't big enough to cover all the rusted areas.


I put out a wanted add for a parts car, hoping for a rusty car that I could grab for a little above scrap value and use as a donor for the window sill area. There's a bunch of complex bends there I wasn't sure could be replicated. Someone contacted me and ended up selling me a very nice car for very cheap. Cheap enough that I bought it sight unseen. 

It's also a '91 with the ALB package. The ALB system isn't working, but it had recent tires, battery, a JDM B20A swap, and what was only described as "coilovers" when I went to pick it up. I drove it about an hour home without issue, and when I poked me head underneath I found Tokico Blues and Ground Control sleeves!


This car will also donate it's interior, as I want to get rid of the USDM spec door mounted seatbelts in favour of the Canadian/rest of the world spec normal belts.

USDM door belts:

Canadian B pillar mounted conventional belts:


The door belt system is a bit of an afterthought and poorly designed.  The door panels fall apart a bit where the belts pass into the panel, and there's these indicator lights/buzzer mounted by the rear view mirror that have a cover that crumble and fall apart. Someone actually makes a 3D printed replacement now, but I'd rather just do away with the whole system.

Run_Away HalfDork
5/26/18 10:59 p.m.

June 13th 2017

I borrowed a set of TR Motorsports 15x9 +36 wheels with 225/45/15 Rivals on them from a fellow SMF competitor. They came off an AE101 Corolla with a 20V swap, very cool car.

I removed the shocks/springs from the car so I could cycle the suspension it's full travel to see if they would fit. The fronts cleared perfectly.


The rears fouled spindle, so I threw on some washers that measured at 4.5mm


Which resulted in super close fitment. Everything cleared!


Most 4x100 wheels in 15x9 are for Miatas, and therefore all around the +36 mark. I needed something with a +30, but no such thing existed that I could find.



I also decided I wanted a proper paint job, and a colour change as well. I decided against a wrap because from what I read, the underlying paint needed to be completely smooth and mine needed a lot of work. Plus they have a limited life. A DIY paint job wouldn't turn out as nice as I wanted, and I didn't have the space or tools for that anyway. So I started on disassembling the car, again. All exterior trim off, spoiler and badges too.


Marked and bagged hardware

Project86fox Reader
5/27/18 8:10 a.m.

When I was 18 I worked for my buddies small dealership and we'd go to a lot of auctions. One night a pair of these rolled through with no reserves and hardly anybody bid on them, I think they went for 200 each... They were clean little cars. I almost had my buddy snag one up for me, but decided against it last minute.

It's cool to see somebody building a nice clean one! Makes me wonder what if....

Run_Away HalfDork
5/27/18 11:07 p.m.

So onwards with the USDM seatbelt delete. It's not as simple as just bolting in the normal belts and swapping the door panels. The USDM chassis is actually missing all the bracing and weld nuts where the seatbelts would bolt to.

So I replicated the factory setup with plates of steel and grade 11 9/16-20 thread nuts. Why is that a standard for most vehicles? I don't quite get it.

Anyways, here's what I did with the B pillars. Just fished the plate up from farther down, put the bolt in place, use a couple self tapping screws to hold the panels together and rosette weld the holes


The lower mount I did the passenger side first and cut a hole in the rocker underneath the sill plate. I didn't know it was two layers there.


Halfway welded back up


On the drivers side I was much more clever and fished it through using wire. This was quite tricky.

I used a big magnet to hold it in place while I very carefully removed the wire and delicately threaded in a bolt. If it had dropped I probably would have had to cut the rocker on this side as well.




And mostly completed. The weld nuts at the back were obviously very easy with lots of access. This picture the guide rod is missing still (where my fingers are). I used a rivnut and a little tab bent 90 deg with a hole drilled in it to replicate the factory setup.


And last piece of the seatbelt puzzle, I removed the reinforcement plates mounted inside the doors for the USDM seatbelts and welded up the holes that would be visible with the door panel on.




Run_Away HalfDork
5/28/18 10:45 p.m.

August-Nov 2017

I pulled the A/C system.


Then the engine


Underneath the battery tray I found a nasty surprise, some old crash damage that wasn't repaired.


Pulled the dash


Gutted the interior


Stripped the engine bay

Welded up a bunch of holes in the firewall


Since I am deleting the spoiler, I need another 3rd brake light. I wanted to do something different from the parcel shelf mounted light and grabbed a few from the junkyard to try.

The best candidate so far was one from a Subaru Forester. Welded some nuts to the roof bracing and mounted it up


Bought a set of Konig Hypergrams in 15x8.5 +25 and a good friend gave me a fantastic deal on some used 225/45/15 BFG Rivals

GCrites80s Reader
5/29/18 12:29 p.m.

Jesus that mouse belt delete was involved.

PT_SHO New Reader
5/29/18 6:57 p.m.

Nice build thread!  It's pieces like this that remind me that people do work because it's the right thing to do, not the thing that makes $en$e.  Those BFG's have an, uh, interesting wear pattern, but since you can put the two with thrashed (and weird stripe in the middle, guessing burnouts) edges on the back, you're good!  Wheels are +25, you going to spacer those out?

Run_Away HalfDork
5/29/18 10:04 p.m.

In reply to GCrites80s :

Mouse nest or seat belt? Works for both actually!

In reply to PT_SHO :

The Rivals are off a Chumpcar that hit a wall mid race. The fronts look like they were overdriven a bunch, so they're pretty feathered. The two that were on the rear are much nicer, other than some OPR stuck to them.

No spacers required for the +25 wheels, but I did end up needing to roll the fenders. Mathematically I should have gained clearance everywhere with this wheel/tire setup compared to the 15x9 +36 (+31.5 with the washers) I test fit, but there was actually less clearance on the outside.

Run_Away HalfDork
5/29/18 10:24 p.m.

Nov 21 2017 the car left for the body shop about 45 mins north of the city.


They got the front end apart to better assess the damage, decided a new front core support would be best. The frame frail could be pulled.


Bought a new core support directly from Honda, very surprised this was still available.


Jan 15 2018 I got a text update. Frame was pulled, core support welded in, rust under the RR window fixed with the junkyard chunk I had plus a piece from the original quarter panel from my blue SE I had kept. Also welded the spoiler holes, the antenna, and the badging.


Feb 2018


BA5 Reader
5/30/18 9:49 a.m.

Very nice!

Makes me want to update my build thread on here....

You were on preludepower.com, too, right?

Mezzanine Dork
5/30/18 11:36 a.m.

I love a detailed build thread. I especially love the paint prep pics. And four + months in paint jail: why is this the norm now? Yuck.

Crackers Dork
5/30/18 2:12 p.m.

In reply to Run_Away :

Coming from working mostly with classic cars with abundant aftermarket support I love seeing the work that goes into restoring relatively obscure cars with this level of detail. 

Did you say what color it was being painted? 

Run_Away HalfDork
5/30/18 8:32 p.m.

In reply to BA5 :

Yup, same handle as on here. I'd love to see an update on your car, any big events planned?


In reply to Mezzanine :

Well it got sublet out for the frame pulling, and there was a bunch of other little things too. I didn't mind, one less car to find storage for during the winter months.


In reply to Crackers :

Nope not yet, the car is now blue. Pics in a couple updates I think.

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