Honda USA was on a roll in the '90s; the B series, the Type R, the NSX, and to some degree, the fourth-gen Prelude. The Prelude brought about Honda's "big-block" with the H series, and this particular Prelude has been bringing home podium finishes for more than two decades! Scott Zellner and the crew at King Motorsports are no strangers to Honda building. They've been churning out winners since 1984. Fast-forward to 1991, and this exact Prelude was one of five pre-production VTEC edition test mules to make its way to the U.S.
After its arrival, it saw its way into Honda USA's press fleet. Scott said, "These were the cars that magazines got to test, and most got turned into race cars after that." When this 'Lude was done getting flogged by automotive journalists, it switched hands through several SCCA drivers and more than one class in the SCCA taking top spots along the way. By 1998, the Prelude's owner converted it into a SCCA E Production-spec car, which included pulling the original H22 for the non-VTEC H23, and by 1999, it had won every race in its division, including the SCCA Runoffs at Mid Ohio that same year. After switching owners and being put through its paces for a decade, it was picked up by Scott Zellner and the team at King Motorsports.
The SCCA is a pretty intense organization, so when Scott reviewed the rules for that season, he knew he had some very specific boxes to check. He adds, "The SCCA has to create an even playing field, it has very stringent guidelines as to what is and what is not acceptable, and it really creates an even playing field for all the cars involved." The Prelude would be run in the SCCA E production class, which allows certain modifications as long as the car maintains the original structure, drive layout, and in Scott's case, the original H23. When asked about the apparent engine limitations, Scott says, "We'd love to run an H22, but the rules don't allow it for us. Even though the H23 is kind of old-school, it's incredibly reliable and has a great powerband. Would we love to run a K swap? Of course, it's just not allowed in the class spec." The H23's existing exhaust manifold and cat-back system were replaced with King Motorsports' one-off pieces, accompanied by a handbuilt intake. The rulebook limitations did allow for some block and headwork, which King satisfied with a set of Mahle pistons and Crower valvetrain. SCCA guidelines allowed for modifying the stock camshafts mildly, which the King guys did in-house. While on the workbench, a Mugen LSD was also installed.
Although the 'Lude's powerplant put out a scant 160 hp when it rolled off the factory floor, Scott knew that traction would be key, so he opted for a set of 15x7 Volk TE37's wrapped in Hoosier Slicks, a pairing Scott was quite familiar with. "The 'Lude won the Runoff in '99 wearing Hoosiers' new rain slicks at the time. They made a huge difference; and they're so effective, they're still being used today."
The prior owner had already stripped the interior, so the team simply installed an up-to-date rollcage, which according to Scott "has as many connection points as we were allowed." A custom dash with integrated gauges and matching Sparco steering wheel and racing seats are all that the interior was treated too.
Suspension modifications were severely limited, only allowing Scott and the King crew to install a set of (Penske) coilovers and a new rear sway bar. Additional downforce is achieved through a custom front air splitter and air dam, virtually the only exterior modifications allowed.
Scott and the crew at King are actively racing the rejuvenated Prelude, and as this is penned, the King crew has already locked down a podium place at Mid Ohio and are making a push for the Runoff 2013 trophy. Even though Scott and his team are limited to what they can do, they're determined to get this veteran Honda racer back on the top of the leader boards where it belongs!
Bolts & Washers
ACT Prolite flywheel
Mugen Limited Slip
Syncrotech carbon coated syncros
King Motorsports shortened final drive
King Motorsports exhaust
King Motorsports exhaust manifold
King Motorsports cold-air intake
King Motorsports modified OEM Honda rockers
King Motorsports SCCA EP-spec camshafts
RC Engineering fuel injectors
Crower valve springs
Crower Ti retainers
Crower Maxi Light connecting rods
King Motorsports-spec Mahle pistons
Custom valved Penske triple adjustable coilovers
King Motorsports rear sway bar
King Motorsports custom spherical bearings
Motul 600 brake fluid
Custom King Motorsports stainless steel brake lines
Wheels & Tires
Volk TE37 15x7 +45
Hoosier Radial slicks 205/80-15
King Motorsports air dam
King Motorsports splitter
King Motorsports rollcage
CEO of King Motorsports
Inspiration for this build
Keeping it in the family
We're so busy; we've got no time for projects
Birth of the King
Body kits, engine swaps, JDM trends, stance, and other assorted fads may come and go, but one company was alive and kicking well before most of it ever entered the picture: King Motorsports. Started in 1981 as the race team of a local Honda dealer, the team piloted their 1200cc '74 Civic to their first victory in 1984. Current CEO Scott Zellner started with the team around that time and recalls, "We ran every race we could with our little Civic, at the same time we started designing parts for them too." Throughout the '80s, the team stacked wins while garnering attention from Honda of Japan. "We got to work hand in hand with Honda Special Projects. They did all the cool stuff; it was a very exciting time." Toward the end of the '80s, King received exclusive rights as the sole Mugen distributor in the U.S., a feat not bestowed on just anyone. After that, gears changed rather quickly. "It was weird; we went from a race team to a parts distributor." Even today King Motorsports is synonymous with Mugen on U.S. shores and Scott, still at the helm, see's no end in sight. "We've been racing and winning for 35 years and we're still here and relevant. I'm very proud of it."
No two ways about it, they're the Kings and that's not changing anytime soon.