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The Wildest (and Perhaps Only) 1979 Honda Prelude You’ll Ever See

Inspired by Japan’s Kaido racer and Shakotan scene, this rarely modified chassis gets a custom restomod treatment from a DIY rebel.

Rodrez
Dec 8, 2020
Author: Jannik Weidmann

Building a forgotten chassis like this 1979 Honda Prelude, regardless of the region you live in, is always a tough process. Very few bolt-on parts exist and the ones that do are often extremely hard to come by. You're usually left with retrofitting parts intended for other cars or, if you're handy, creating them from scratch on your own. For Kai Coors, owner of this widened first-gen. Prelude, it was a mix of both, but the majority of this car's second life was based heavily upon Kai's resourcefulness.

002 honda prelude 1st gen Photo 20/20   |   The Wildest (and Perhaps Only) 1979 Honda Prelude You’ll Ever See

Based in North Germany, Kai wasn't an avid Prelude fan and, like most, probably never considered modifying a first-generation version of a badge that spans five generations over a 23-year run. However, Kai, who finished his education as a carpenter/joiner almost a decade ago, and who owns an old barn right next to his job where he can work on his project cars, is absolutely a fan of cars 30-years-old or older and under $5,000. In fact, that's exactly what his standard eBay search criteria is saved as, and he regularly scans the auction site for something interesting. He adds, "Two years ago this car popped up on my search, so I took my girlfriend and we went to buy this car for around $4K on a cold day in the winter."

003 honda prelude paint bodywork Photo 20/20   |   The Wildest (and Perhaps Only) 1979 Honda Prelude You’ll Ever See

She's a Keeper

The idea behind the purchase of a car that Kai really had no intentions of ever owning or working on was simple: pick it up for cheap, give it a paint job and wheels, then drive it around for a bit before selling it off and, with any luck, making a little money from it. That plan was skewed once he got the car home and the frost finally let up so he could get a good look at its condition. He adds, "The car had rust veins under the paint, so I started to strip the car down to its bare metal in order to complete new paint myself." No easy task by any means; the amount of labor and hours he was putting into the Prelude began to change his outlook on the project entirely. "The more work I put into the body, the more I realized that maybe I wouldn't sell the car after the respray, lol! After I started searching for parts for this car, I found that there are almost no aftermarket parts available."

J Style of the '70s & '80s

Not surprisingly, the first-gen. Prelude, even on a global scale, doesn't carry a huge following, and you've likely never seen more than one or two in your life, so a lack of aftermarket support isn't surprising. Looking for a bit of inspiration to find some direction on the build, Kai took to Instagram to see what Japanese tuners were doing with '70s and '80s-era cars. While they certainly weren't working on early model Preludes, the overall shape of the coupe was in line with most Japanese models of that era, with a boxy shape and longer hood line. "I began to get really addicted to the Kaido racer and Shakotan scene that I saw on Instagram."

004 prelude fender flare Photo 20/20   |   The Wildest (and Perhaps Only) 1979 Honda Prelude You’ll Ever See

The over-fender look is essentially a requirement for these older builds to add some muscularity to the lean bodies and allow for much more aggressive wheel and tire options when compared to the tiny factory rollers. To get to that point, the search for over-fenders lead to Russia, where Kai found a full set in excellent condition. Not intended for his build, of course, they required plenty of trimming and welding to work with the Honda's fenders. More welding took place right after, as Kai wanted to create his own rollbar, painted bright yellow, which he notes is a nod to the Kaido style that he'd been admiring.

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Homemade Aero

Having widened fenders wouldn't look right with a humble factory bumper, so Kai created a front lip that aims to bring the front fascia down and forward a few inches while maintaining the thick rubber mid-bumper molding that was so common with late '70s imports. At this point, funds were lacking, but Kai wanted to get the car on the road, so he picked up a set of replica wheels for the time being so he could enjoy the car. His only issue then was the aggressive front lip and fenders with nothing on the rear of the car to balance out the look. "I built a wing that looked a bit like a ducktail style but after a road trip to Poland and around 2,000 kilometers later, that wing broke into multiple pieces because I chose the wrong materials." Lesson learned, he got right back to work on the car and admittedly, not great with fiberglass at that time, he elected to use sheet metal to construct a new, much stronger wing that lifts the trunk line and overlaps the rear quarters.

005 galvanized oem honda hardware Photo 20/20   |   The Wildest (and Perhaps Only) 1979 Honda Prelude You’ll Ever See

Based on the exterior, you'd expect to find an engine swap perched inside the bay, but Kai decided to keep the original power plant and, last winter, completely revamped every nut and bolt - literally.

006 honda prelude transmission Photo 20/20   |   The Wildest (and Perhaps Only) 1979 Honda Prelude You’ll Ever See

Just about every square inch of the engine and transmission was sandblasted and meticulously painted and all of the hardware, much of it corroded or rusted from harsh winters, was galvanized and looks brand new.

007 honda prelude driving Photo 20/20   |   The Wildest (and Perhaps Only) 1979 Honda Prelude You’ll Ever See

Road Less Traveled

Building a car this old is a tall order, with essentially no real streams of OEM parts available and, furthermore, virtually no aftermarket support to lean on. Guys like Kai seem to relish in the challenge of turning something that would never even be considered a project car to most into something unique, like his '79 Prelude. The car he picked up on a whim with thoughts of cleaning up and flipping for a profit seems to have found a home with Kai as he plans to continue the build that he's sunk countless hours into. Long live the rebel!

Car:

 

1979 Honda Prelude

Owner: Kai Coors
 

 

Hometown:

 

North Germany

 

Engine:

 

Stock, reconditioned and refinished, galvanized OEM hardware throughout

Wheels & Tires:

 

SSR Longchamp 15x7/15x8; 185/45 tires

Suspension:

 

custom coilovers; refreshed OEM components throughout

Exterior:

 

custom front lip, rear spoiler, side window louvers

Interior:

 

custom rollcage; reupholstered seats; new carpet

 

By Rodrez
941 Articles

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