Honda Prelude
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Chassis  |  4 Wheel Steering  |  Appearance  |  Specifications

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The Prelude has unequal length double wishbone suspension at each of its four corners. These feature coil springs, in-coil telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bars front and rear. This suspension is unique in that it is often only found in racing cars such as Formula 1 and CART, where double wishbones are the only and best way to suspend the car. The benefits of this setup include:

  • Low bonnet line due to the space saving
  • Low center of gravity because the suspension is mounted high in relation to the rest of the chassis
  • Minimal geometry changes during cornering as the double wishbones cause the wheel to increase its camber when under load, ensuring that the tyre maximises its contact patch with the road surface.
  • Almost zero pitch and squat due to the optimised weight distribution.

Below is an article on the Prelude's suspension setup (abstract from

Front Suspension (from Chilton Service Manual)Every time we talk about Hondas, the word "refinement" seems to come up. Even tiny, flyweight models such as the CRX ride better and are generally more comfortable than many vehicles we've tested that look like Peterbilts by comparison, and all modern Hondas are well-mannered in the curves. To put it simply, they're great to drive. Come to think of it, maybe it's logical to expect a motorcycle maker to produce cars that satisfy the senses and give pleasure.

A big part of this positive vehicular experience has to do with the steering and suspension systems these automobiles are blessed with. But if they're not right, most of the fun can go out of living with a Honda. Hence this section, for which we talked to Honda service experts and aftermarket parts makers, and pored over hundreds of TSBs. You won't find this stuff in service manuals, so keep reading.

*Different suspenders

Just when everybody was getting used to the idea of MacPherson struts as the almost universal front suspension design for small cars, Honda went the competition one better. In '83, the new Prelude appeared with a whole new idea: a strut with a fork that straddles the driveshaft AND an upper control arm. You'll find the same unusual double wishbone setup on late-model Accords and '88 and up Civics. The knuckle has a weird bend in it and isn't attached to the strut. It looks odd, but it works. Not only is it low, which helps the designers achieve an aerodynamic hoodline, but it produces near-zero geometry and reduces dive. It also makes the car corner with satisfying precision.

Just as important, the design allows you to make camber and caster adjustments, a feature that's lamentably absent on many late models. Set camber by loosening the two ball joint nuts in the upper arm and moving the joint in or out. Torque the nuts to 40 ft. lbs. Caster is changed by lengthening or shortening the radius rods.

There are some innovations at the rear that bear mention. On the Prelude, toe-in can be adjusted by turning the eccentrics at the front of the radius rods. Late-model Civic rear suspension is unique with a lateral upper arm and a long lower trailing arm that uses a compensator link ahead of the pivot point to brace against deflection and toe change. Service on the struts is pretty much what you're used to.

Rear Suspension (from Chilton Service Manual)4 Wheel Steering - Top

The 3rd generation Honda Prelude was endowed with the world's first 4 Wheel Steering system. The four wheel steering system (4WS) provides limited steering of the rear wheels, in addition to the normal steering of the front wheels. The system is "steering angle dependent." That is, depending on how far the steering wheel is turned, the rear wheels are steered in either the same or the opposite direction of the front wheels.

When the steering wheel is turned a moderate amount, up to approximately one half turn, the rear wheels are steered in the same direction as the front wheels. For example, during lane changing and on gentle curves, the front and rear wheels steer in the same direction. This eliminates almost all roll and makes lane changes smooth at considerable speeds.

When the steering wheel is turned more than approximately one half turn, the rear wheels are steered in the opposite direction of the front wheels. This reduces the turning circle of the car for easier parking, U-turns and maneuvering in confined spaces.

Appearance - Top

The Prelude features a very low bonnet line - in fact, to match the height of its bonnet line you would have to look at considerably more expensive mid engined Italian supercars. This is a benefit afforded by the layout of the double wishbone suspension and the fact that the engine is tilted back to create this profile. The retractable headlights also add to the sleek and purposeful look of the Prelude's front end.

The passenger compartment is quite well appointed, with comfortable and supporting bucket seats, tilt adjustable steering wheel, cruise control, and highly ergonomic cockpit controls. The first thing you notice when you slide into the Prelude is just how low the dash and door line is. It almost feels as if you're sitting in a glass box, directly in the airstream. As a result the Prelude offers the driver and front passenger very good all round visability. Flick on the lights and the tops of the retractable headlights become visible from the cockpit, and emphasise the vastness of the Prelude's hood.

For fresh air driving, there's power windows and a power sunroof.

Back seats? Don't even bother, this car should be considered a 2 seater rather than a 2 + 2. The lack of legroom would make even Dr. Evil's mini me complain.

This car can and should be considered a Grand Tourer, being very comfortable and quiet. I recently completed a trip to and from Melbourne to Adelaide and I have nothing really to complain about. The low noise levels at 110km/h, comfortable seats, effective air conditioning, steady cruise control and ample power made the trip quite enjoyable. Fuel economy was also excelent as I managed 7.4L/100km.

Specifications - Top

Claimed Cd 0.34
Exterior (mm)  
Wheelbase 2565
Front track 1480
Rear track 1470
Length 4460
Width 1695
Height 1295
Interior (mm)  
Dash panel to rear seat 1540
S/wheel to seat (min/max) 510/700
Pedals to seat (min/max) 340/520
Rear legroom (min/max) 90/280
Shoulder width, front 1300
Shoulder width, rear 1300
Front cushion depth 520
Front cushion height (min/max) 240/270
Rear cushion depth 440
Rear cushion height 280
Load Space  
Floor lenght (seat up) 1060
Floor lenght (seat down) 1610
Floor to lid (min/max) 340/430
Lip to lid 620
Opening depth 430
Opening width 1290
Loading height 860
Floor width (max) 1640
Floor width (between arches) 860