Junkyard Gem: 1987 Honda Prelude Si


When Honda introduced the original Prelude as a 1979 model, it was a sporty-looking machine with plenty of Accord components, a generous helping of luxury and convenience features, a curb weight just a bit over a ton … and not much power under the hood. The second generation of Prelude appeared in North America as a 1983 model, and it was markedly bigger, sleeker and more powerful than its predecessor. Sales of second-gen Preludes continued here through 1987, and I’ve found a final-year example with the hot-rod Si package in a car graveyard in Phoenix, Arizona.

13 1987 Honda Prelude in Arizona junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

This fuel-injected 2.0-liter engine showed up when the Prelude Si debuted late in the 1985 model year, and it gave the car impressive acceleration. I daily-drove an ’87 Prelude Si (red, of course) for a while in the middle 1990s and thought it was respectably quick. This one was rated at 110 horsepower and 114 pound-feet, which was decent for a car that weighed just 2,426 pounds.

16 1987 Honda Prelude in Arizona junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The most compelling reason to buy a fuel-injected Honda in 1987 was that the fuel-delivery systems on carbureted Hondas had become so complicated (due to increasingly strict American emissions requirements) by that time that their vacuum-hose diagrams resembled a map of the universe (or the notorious Afghanistan Stability/COIN Dynamics PowerPoint slide). By contrast, Honda’s PGM-FI system worked very well and had simple plumbing.

29 1988 Honda Accord with 500k miles in Colorado junkyard Photo by Murilee Martin

Contrast that diagram with this one for the dual-carb-equipped 1988 Accord (the base 1987 Prelude’s 1.8-liter engine used a similar system). Which one would you rather have when the engine developed a misfire or wouldn’t pass a smog check?

36 1987 Honda Prelude in Arizona junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The MSRP for this car was $14,945 with the five-speed manual transmission, which it has. That’s about $41,366 in 2023 dollars. The base 1987 Prelude with the carbureted 1.8 engine cost $11,995 ($33,201 after inflation).

28 1987 Honda Prelude in Arizona junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

When you got the Prelude Si for ’87, this “HIGH POWER SYSTEM” AM/FM/cassette deck with seven-band graphic equalizer came as standard equipment. This rig must have made the hits of the era sound great.

10 1987 Honda Prelude in Arizona junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

309,527 miles show on the odometer, which (just barely) gets this car into the Murilee Martin Junkyard Odometer Hall of Fame. The highest-mile Honda I’ve ever found in a junkyard was a 1988 Accord with 626,476.2 miles on the clock.

31 1987 Honda Prelude in Arizona junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The interior is faded and a bit crunchy, but not abused. That’s typical of high-mile cars I find in such places.

24 1987 Honda Prelude in Arizona junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The Arizona sun is rough on car paint, but the dry climate kept this car rust-free until the end.

A 16.68-second quarter-mile time was pretty good for 1987.

The stylish car for stylish people.

In Japan, the Prelude was available at Honda Verno stores.



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