1-Of-147: 1982 Honda Prelude Convertible

When I first saw this Honda Prelude Convertible, I initially thought that it was one of the cars that had been modified by Solaire, a company contracted to perform conversions on behalf of Honda. However, there seem to be enough differences on this one to suggest that it might not be one of those cars. The owner also describes the car as 1-of-147 but doesn’t elaborate on what these figures actually mean. Barn Finder Roger spotted the Prelude for us, so thank you for that Roger. The Prelude is located in Tucker, Georgia, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set a sales price of $4,000 for the Honda.

The condition of the Prelude is generally pretty good, with no obvious signs of rust. The center caps are missing from a couple of the wheels, but given that these are a standard Honda product, the new owner should be able to source them fairly easily. The styling of the Prelude translates fairly well to a soft-top conversion, but it probably isn’t the best of the bunch from this era. The car is fitted with the luggage rack that seemed to be a feature of the cars that were modified by Solaire, but there are other features that don’t seem to be correct for that manufacturer. The first is the system that is used to attach the soft-top to the windshield header on this car. This car seems to be missing the two securing posts on the header panel that was part of the Solaire conversion. The other difference lies in the frame of the soft-top. In the Solaire version, the frame folds further back behind the seats than on this car. This allowed this area to be used as a luggage shelf, or as a limited use seat. I’m sure that there is a further clue to the origin of this conversion lying in the badges on both front fenders, but I haven’t been able to read them. The Solaire cars were not fitted with those, so these may be from the company that performed the conversion.

Under the hood of the Prelude is a 1,751cc 4-cylinder engine. This sends its power to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission. There is even a badge on the rear of the car to let people know that you could row your way through 5 gears manually when the majority of cars with manual transmissions had to make do with either 3 or 4 forward gears. With only 75hp on tap, the Prelude was not really a performance car, and by today’s standards, performance would be considered to be on the wrong side of sluggish. Still, when it was new, its performance was considered to be quite acceptable. The owner describes the car as being in excellent mechanical condition and also says that he holds more than $4,000 in receipts for mechanical work performed on the car in the past 8-years.

The interior of the Prelude presents surprisingly well, as the lighter colored seat upholstery on these did have a reputation for staining and becoming dirty-looking fairly easily. These seats look quite good, while the dash is free of any nasty cracks. The vinyl on the door trims is a bit stretched in a few spots, but for a car of this age, it really doesn’t look bad at all.

We’ve seen a lot of convertibles popping up out of the woodwork in recent times, which might be a fair indication that the weather is beginning to warm up. Summer is a great time to get out on the road in a convertible, and while there are probably plenty of examples out there that are better than this Prelude, I can assure you that there are also plenty out there that are a lot worse.


  1. CapNemo

    Door panels.

    Like 3
  2. bull

    Lotta fun for $4K!

    Like 7
  3. irocrobb

    That sure is a tiny rear window. It seems really cheap if it really is a rust free car. Not sure about the “runs better than new” line though. 147 made,no wonder I have never saw one….

    Like 3
  4. Convert >=50 +-100

    It ranges from 50 to 147 on production. Researched for fun and found ..,

    “Believed to be one of just a few remaining. From what we can find there were less than 50 of these produced by a company Called Solaire in Santa Ana CA., they were sold by honda with full manufacture warranty.

    Other details

    “Have you ever heard of Solaire? It was a Santa Ana company that Honda commissioned to build verts out of their sporty little car in the American market. In 1981, Honda sold around 100 of the pop-tops across the country through their dealer network. These cars are as close to a “factory” convertible Prelude as it gets in the North American market. They are so rare, however, that most dealers don’t know they existed, and their non-Honda-sourced parts do not appear in any of the Honda catalogs.”

    I think it would be a great weekend driver for the price . I discount the rarity …but a fun talking point at a cruise in..,and if googled one can save and print the advertisements from magazines too.👀👍

    Like 1
  5. Bob MacDonald

    In 1982 I worked at a Honda dealer in Delaware. The dealer sold 5 of these and within 6 months time bought all 5 back. After cutting off the hard top roof it weakened the structure enough that the body sagged and the doors were pined shut. As a result all 5 were scrapped

    Like 4
    • Mark

      Yikes. And that mail slot of a back window sure is odd.

  6. Andrew S Mace Member

    IF (big “IF”) I were interested in this particular car, the first thing I would have to change would be the top. I don’t care about “originality” of same; mine would have to have a much larger rear window and, hopefully, quarter windows such as typically seen on MGs and Triumphs. The faux-38 Plymouth look doesn’t work here. ;)

  7. Miguel

    I really liked the instruments on the 1980/1981 Prelude.

    This cluster looks too normal for a Prelude.

  8. Rick

    This exact car is listed on the Austin Craigslist right now with an indignant description. The seller says “correct the price is $25,000. insured for 50K”! The header states that it was already reduced to $18,950. If you’re going to buy a car to flip for 6 times the price you paid a year ago, wouldn’t you at least paint it?

    Like 2
    • bryan

      Haha, that CL post (re-posted several times now) has been annoying me so much I googled the car and it led me here. Rare does not mean it’s collectible, and even if it were the tone of the seller is enough to turn most people off. What a jerk!

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