I did a double take when I saw this car pop up in our Autoblog Slack channel. Is Honda selling its factory fresh 1999 Prelude Type SH? No, Honda isn’t. But somebody in New Jersey is selling one that is identical to the museum piece I covered last year in a retro first drive review.
When I say identical, I mean it, too. Crystal Blue Metallic? Check. Model year 1999? Check. Type SH? Check. Completely stock with nary a flaw to be found? Also check. The only real difference is in the number of miles on this car for sale. It’s currently sitting at 28,700 miles, whereas the Prelude Type SH I drove only had 2,400 miles. Either way, they're basically brand new 22-year-old cars, but you can actually buy this one currently up for auction on Cars and Bids.
Honda updated the Prelude for the 1999 model year, adding both power and massaged styling. Its 2.2-liter four-cylinder (with VTEC!) makes 200 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. You could get an automatic, but the one you want is this five-speed manual. This being the Type SH, it also has Honda’s genius ATTS torque vectoring system that counteracts understeer in this front-drive car. And those specs and features are great, but I can offer you a little more of the driving experience by quoting esteemed automotive expert, me.
“The Prelude starts up quietly, and the lack of torque below 3,000 rpm doesn’t encourage a search for more up high. Driven without purpose, it’s a perfectly pleasant daily driver that doesn’t disturb the passengers. The suspension is comfortably compliant, and it accomplishes its goal of being refined in the cabin. Really, nothing about this car screams sporty initially.
“A different car wakes up when the tach needle swings past 5,000 rpm. The staid coupe turns into a howling ‘aggressive sports coupe.’ Yes, Honda’s description was apt. A sonorous roar enters the cabin, increasing in volume and musicality as 7,400 rpm approaches. It’s a simple, but pretty sound, one we could get used to listening to day in and day out. It revs quickly, too. First gear goes by in a flash. A quick stab at the light clutch pedal and short pull into second gear is satisfying, and then the angry bees are back.”
And big surprise: It handles well, too.
“As an empty roundabout approaches, it seems the perfect opportunity to see what the ATTS can really do. Instead of the front end washing out in a sea of screeching rubber mid-corner, the nose tucks in obediently, and the car silently passes through to the other side. Now that was strange. No understeer, no oversteer. A similar result occurs on each subsequent corner the Prelude Type SH is tossed into. There’s no fuss whatsoever. Instead of fighting the car through the corner, it easily picks up speed, and the outside wheel sends it through to the other side like a slingshot. The effect is most noticeable in tighter corners where the inside front wheel would traditionally spin up under power and slow you down. That just doesn’t happen in the Type SH. It makes driving fast easier and more enjoyable, all while silently operating in the background.”
If you want more, please do read my entire Retro First Drive. And check out the photos of the test car below, too. You can compare Honda’s pristine and perfect example to this one for sale, and minus a couple imperfections, the Prelude on Cars & Bids is a mighty fine example of Prelude perfection. Hondas of this vintage with comparably low miles have been going for a lot of money, so it'll be interesting to see how high this one goes.
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