Maybe its corny to remember the exact day that you bought your car, but this was really my first car i felt i truly earned. And after a year of searching for the car, and a 300 mile trip down to get it, its purchase was pretty special too. And consequently, my first year as a 5spd driver. So here is her story, and where she is now. 1 year later.
3 years ago i had a pt cruiser. It was a gift from some family, and i couldnt not accept it. It was a car, and i had just gotten my first job. Proudly i kept tha pt looser in fantastic condition with the hopes one day i will be able to buy into something else. People around me thought i was bonkers for wanting to go out and get a different car, since i already had one. But they just didnt understand. As much as i felt it was mine, the only monetary investment i had was in parts and maintenance. So i just kept working and going to college.
After about a year of that car, and looking day in and day out for other future replacement cars that would be reliable, reasonable cost, and most importantly, a car i would enjoy to get in and drive and experience a purpose built fun car. Many cars were on my list for a long time, and then i came across a car i had completely forgotten about for many years. The Honda Prelude.
Pretty much after rediscovering that car, i had made my choice. And i read up on everything possible to get myself immersed in prelude knowledge. I wasnt going to buy a car without knowing the ins and outs. I found this out with PT loozer ownership. Wheelbearings like to go out daily... And headgaskets. and ruuuussstttt....
Enough of that though. It became a waiting game as i needed to get my money in order to buy a car with cash in full. So i saved my money. Wasted nothing. Cut out all silly frivolous spending, and even on a very low income job, i saved enough to get into some cool cars. I always look back and rethink if i would have never bought a car and kept saving til now, id have enough to buy a BRZ straightup in cash... But the prelude was worth it. Every penny.
So from the time i was close to being able to afford one, i began seriously looking into a prelude. My criteria was as follows. Must be: 5 speed, no body damage or wrecks, nothing above 100K miles. Thats it. The rest i could get by without being too picky.
Well it turns out that its pretty much impossible to find what i just stated. Im in NJ. And i was willing to go out 500 miles to buy a car. And for a year, less than a dozen actual contenders were inquired about. 5 of them i lost due to being an hour behind. These cars would sell literally the day they were listed. I was on CL and all the other sites every day. another 4 or 5 i lost because of maintenance issues, and general condition flaws. And the last one i opted out of was a NYC car. Id prefer to not have a car from the city...
But it was a bit over a year after i began my search when i came across a craigslist ad with a car that met everything i wanted and more. The problem was he was at $9k on his price. So initially i blew it off. A few days pass and i get this urge and email the guy. We have a few exchanges and we end up on the phone a few times too. More and more i was seeing the value in this car....
1 owner. Adult owned, and serviced at a honda dealer with full paperwork history. 65K miles. The 100K miles maintenance was done (T belt.. etc). Original paint in great condition. Interior is flawless. Garage kept. Lived in VA all its life, so less harsh winters.
So i sold a few things to scrape together this much needed extra cash and we made a deal. $8.3k is where we met on a price. I tried to haggle a bit, but i knew what these cars can get in this condition. And honestly, i was and still am okay with the fact i probably overpaid a little. The point is i finally found what i wanted without compromising. I was happy.
So me and my dad took a train a few days after negotiations to buy the car. I had my uncle go and look at it beforehand for me to ensure everything was as stated. Even though he is no car guy, he says it was good. Still sight unseen to me, but my long and interrogative style conversations on the phone with the seller made me feel good about dealing with him.
Alas, we arrived at the station down in VA just south of DC. It was the first time i laid eyes on the car, and it was just as awesome as i had imagined. Its such a neat feeling knowing, but not knowing whats gonna happen. We went for a quick test drive as i watched the owner drive it, paying close attention to how he drove. I even asked him how VTEC was, and he said let me show you! He barely gets the rpms over 4K and is hardly punching the throttle when hes like "aw man i dont think well make it we're going to fast".. This made me feel better since he probably never popped VTEC on a daily basis. And he was a very smooth driver as well.
We get back for the test drive, i give him the money. I sign the some bill of sale, and the title, and SHES MINE!! I had done it! I bought my first car! All that hard work at a retail job, and relentless saving turned out awesome! It was all worth it.
I should mention, at the time i had never driven stick before. As i didnt actually test drive the car.... So my dad gets in and we go a bit til we are just about out of DC. We fill her up, and my dad says, "its time for you to learn stick". I suppose there was no better time... a 300 mile journey back going through multiple cities, and with plenty of traffic and tolls.
No worries. I accepted such a challenge and we carried on. All was well. We stopped for a bite to eat and this was my first photo of the car as a prelude owner.
Yeah, she had altezzas. I dunno why a 40 year old guy would want them but he had them put on. Dont worry, he kept the OEM's and thats whats currently on the car.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. I got all the way back to NJ without stalling. And once here, i ended up stalling about 5-7 times. Lots of traffic. I learned quick though. Come night, i made it home. Let her sleep in the garage.
Oh yeah. She had a bra too. Immediately i threw that away as i found a lovely surprise under it.... more on that in a minute.
Also, she had a garage mate! She is japanese as well, and has even lower mileage!
Once taking ownership of the vehicle, i began the start of my detailing crusade on the car. A full interior clean first, and then 2 washes with the bra on. The took it off. Did a 3rd wash. My results were as follows:
That bra left a nasty amount of stained gunk into the front. I was very unhappy. But after asking around to a few people i ended up getting a magical compound.
see all that gunk. EW. and it was very annoying. I spent days meticulously going over every inch of painted surface that was contaminated. My results were very pleasing.
The car was kept in good condition from the original owner. I feel like his upkeep on cleanliness went down recently since he has a small child. But luckily, he didnt attempt to gorilla clean the car on his own and left it dirty, with an unmolested paint underneath. That way i was able to safely and with minimal swirly marks, get the paint back to the shine it deserves.
Cant forget about my Pt looser. Here is the only picture i eve got of the two in the same shot.
Sadly, When Sandy hit, my dad borrowed the car to take to the airport instead of his 740i, and the pt looser met an watery demise. Later replaced by a mazda 3 hatch, but thats unrelated.
As time progressed i kept getting the car cleaner and cleaner.
Tail lights were back to normal...
And more recently, new shoes, and painted sideskirts have made their addition.
A year later, and im still in love with this car. Some may blow this off as a honda. Sure, i understand. So is an s2000 and NSX. And dont say thats different haha. They are still just hondas!
Personally, i dont feel like its a honda at all. The interior is much higher quality than the cheapy plastic of period hondas and newer hondas. Its comfortable, and quiet enough to be peaceful, but lets in enough engine noise to make you smile when you cruising through VTEC. It gets fantastic mileage for a car from 2001. 30-33 on the highway. And for the past year ive averaged 25 MPG city and highway. I wish i had the screenshot of the data log thing i use to keep track so i could show it. And it includes all my spirited driving too. No doubt, this is a fun car! Its practical, and from my ownership so far, very reliable.
Its only been a year, but its been such a memorable year. And this car has been a big part of it. Im not much of a party person, or social smoker, but detailing, cleaning, working on this car has kept me happily busy.
Words of advice for those looking for a car in the used market. Have budget, but be prepared to give a little. And dont settle for something. Make sure that car meets all your basic criteria in needs and wants. Its your money, get what you want! Not something you say "oh i guess ill just live with it". Its good to be picky.
lastly. Be patient. I cant tell you how many times, i was told "youll find the right one...eventually". Its discouraging, but dont give up.
oh and my prelude says goodnight-