Honda Prelude -- Body

The Prelude features classic 2+2 sports-coupe styling. The overall look is refined and aggressive, with traditional Honda styling details such as, a low hood and cowl and high rear deck. At the front end, large free-form reflector headlights are set in a low, sloping hood and sharply tapered nose. When viewed from the side, the low hoodline continues back as the beltline, rising steadily to the end of the trunk, giving the Prelude an aggressive, raked stance. The broad, flat sides create a substantial look. The roof has thin roof pillars, expansive glass area and elegant C-pillars. Body-colored, 5-mph bumpers are standard.

Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are standard. Their open-spoked design and greater size contribute to the Prelude's aggressive stance and enhanced handling characteristics.

The Prelude's distinctive stacked, free-form reflector headlights have separate low and high beam elements that throw a wider, brighter light-distribution zone, compared to its predecessor. The new units' low beams are 60% brighter (approximately 400 lumens), and the high beams are 10% brighter (approximately 800 lm). In addition, they have over 6 feet (2 meters) wider beam pattern at 65 feet (20 meters)--ranging out to 131 feet (40 meters) on the driver's side--and almost 32 feet (10 yards) greater reach (approx. 278 feet [85 yards]).

The Prelude has a larger trunk, with nearly a cubic foot more storage capacity. At its widest point, the trunk opening is 7.8 inches (200 mm) wider, which makes loading and unloading easier. When open, the lids shorter vertical section provides more clearance for a person's head as they lean into the trunk to load or retrieve cargo. A full-width fold-down rear seat adds more versatility to the cargo area and takes the place of the previous models pass-through.

Approximately 90% of all the sheet steel in the Prelude is galvanized. Surfaces that are exposed to moisture on both sides, such as the quarter panels, doors, fenders and hood, are galvanized on both sides.

The longitudinal weld flange running the length of the side sill is outboard of the sill, rather than directly underneath where it would be exposed to dirt and moisture. In addition, the entire lower surface of the sill is protected by a plastic rocker-panel cover. Additional advantages of this design include a cleaner appearance and protection from chipping by rocks and gravel.

The painting process used on the Prelude involves first cleaning and degreasing each body, followed by immersion in a zinc phosphate bath that forms a tough, corrosion-resistant coating and improves primer adhesion. The body is then immersed in a soluble, electro-deposited primer (Cationic deposition).

To prevent dust and moisture from accumulating in critical areas, special sealants are applied to crevices and seams in the body. Next, areas of the body that are susceptible to stone and gravel damage are coated with a special anti-chipping primer. Following this, an intermediate primer coat is applied, followed by either a polyester-resin or acrylic-resin top coat. Metallic and pearlescent paints also receive an additional clear coat.

WHEELBASE: in. (mm) 101.7 (2,585)
LENGTH: in. (mm) 178 (4,520)
WIDTH : in. (mm) 69.0 (1,752)
HEIGHT: in. (mm) 51.8 (1,315)
WEIGHT: lbs. (kg.) MT 2,954 (1,340)

Increasing the structural rigidity of the Prelude body helped Honda engineers achieve several important design goals: The attendant increase in torsional and bending resistance yields gains in both ride comfort and handling precision.

Increased rigidity helps reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). Lastly, by carefully engineering the placement and design of areas of reinforcement, Honda engineers were able to enhance the Prelude body's ability to manage impact energy.

Honda engineers have designed the Prelude body so that it efficiently distributes forces over a broad area. Points which are subject to high loading (suspension pick-up points, impact points, etc.) feature larger cross sections, thicker materials and broad, multiple load paths. For example, the sheet-metal thickness of the front shock-absorber mounting points was increased. The longitudinal, upper members in the front subframe are larger, use thicker sheet metal and have additional welds. The side-sill area was redesigned and additional welds were specified. The rear bulkhead was reinforced with thicker side panels and the rear floor was reinforced with an additional upper cross member. The steering-column support extends from A-pillar to A-pillar.

Together, these changes account for a 55% increase in bending rigidity, a 24% increase in torsional rigidity and a significant increase in handling precision, stability, ride comfort and steering feel.

NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) reduction goals for the body centered around road noise and idle vibration. In order to reduce road noise, Honda engineers have reinforced the upper rear A-arm. The new plate effectively attenuates road noise around 250 Hz.

A further reduction in road noise in the mid to high range was realized by doubling the sheet metal in the rear-wheel housing, with melt-sheet sandwiched in between. Urethane foam sound blockers were placed inside the C-pillars and base of the A pillars, and high-density sound-absorbing sheets are used inside the rear side panels and base of the C-pillars. In addition, a thicker carpet was specified for the cargo-area floor. The new carpet is a sandwich of high-density asphalt felt and PVC with a carpet facing.

Engine-idle vibration transmitted to the body (especially steering vibration) has been reduced by approximately 10 dB. Thicker steel is used in the side sills. On automatic transmission-equipped models, an additional stiffener was added. A lower crossmember was added to the instrument panel. A larger and thicker crossmember (the forward bulkhead at the front subframe) was specified. The cross section of the longitudinal upper member (above the wheel housing) was increased. Thicker steel is used at the base of the A-pillars and thicker metal is used in the crossmember that runs under the middle of the passenger compartment. Also an A-pillar-to-A-pillar steering-column hanger and bracket is used.

A rubber-suspended steel mass, called a dynamic damper, has also been installed just behind the front bumper (the Accord has a similar damper built into its bumper). The damper accounts for an approximately 5 dB reduction in lowfrequency vibration at idle.

Engine and exhaust vibration has been further minimized by new rubber mountings, relocated muffler brackets and relocating the flexible joint that connects the exhaust header to the exhaust pipe.

Honda engineers reinforced key areas of the Prelude body for greater strength and enhanced energy management in a collision, including stronger A-pillars, stronger side sills, stronger roof sides, stronger B-pillars and reinforced front and middle floor crossmembers.

The Prelude meets or exceeds the following impact-related federal standards:

  • Full-frontal barrier impact at 30 mph (Honda tests at 35 mph)
  • Angled-frontal (30 degrees right and left) barrier impact at 30 mph
  • Offset-frontal barrier impact
  • Current 30-mph side-impact standards
  • U.S. government side-impact standards (33.5-mph angled impact)
  • Full-rear impact at 30 mph (Honda tests at 35 mph)

Some of the side-impact protection measures taken include:

  • Dual side-impact beams in each door
  • Energy-absorbing side-impact protection (hip-level) built into the front-door lining and an energy-absorbing pad built into the rear passenger-compartment sides (shoulder-level)
  • The steering-column support is now a reinforced bracket that extends all the way across the front of the vehicle, frum A pillar to A pillar
  • A highly rigid body