Michael Wylie isnt 16 years old. His journey breaking, fixing, and modifying cars began during a presidential administration you think exists only on Wikipedia. He spun his first intake valve through a Sioux valve-grinding machine before your parents met. He was only 10.
Fitting to the period and almost predictably, Wylie's initial automotive fascinations favored '50s-, '60s-, and '70s-era muscle cars. "[That period] blew me away. You could go to a dealership and order a big-block Chevy, Olds, Pontiac, or Buick with tri-power or dual-quad [carburetors], a four-speed trans with a floor shifter, and a 4:11 Posi-Traction diff," Wylie recalls. The experience wasn't entirely unlike those that Type R owners would be privy to themselves decades later. Except for the big-cubic-inch engines. And the carburetors. And the RWD configurations. Despite all of this, though, by the mid-1980s, Wylie had found himself smitten with import-branded makes, which culminated into his owning multiple turbocharged Toyotas, Mitsubishis, and, later, Hondas. But you're not here to read about Wylie's '93 Tercel.
Wylie's post-formative automotive years were spent diligently working on an entirely different kind of import, specifically, antique British, German, French, and Italian cars. Cars like a '50s-era Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe. Cars like a late-'40s Jaguar XK-120. Cars like an early '80s, V-8 turbocharged Ferrari 208T. Cars that are the last thing in the world that somebody who spent nine years searching for a fourth-generation Honda Prelude would ever be expected to be so knowledgeable of. But expecting Wylie, who's a high school automotive tech instructor by trade and whose students lent hands in his Prelude's revival, to have cut his teeth on anything less would go against the man's devices.
Wylie's search for the perfect '92 to '96 specimen began nearly 11 years ago. The criteria was predictable albeit culpable to the nine-year hunt: no body damage, perfect paint, no crash history, low miles. Wylie crossed paths with his '92 Si in California's desert with only 45,000 miles registered on its odometer and an otherwise clean bill of health. And according to Wylie, the obligatory "little old lady" was indeed who'd be taking his money.
Confident he'd one day find his quintessential, mid-'90s Honda sports coupe, Wylie began collecting upgrades long before securing the car's title, which is what contributed to the Prelude's relatively short two-year buildup. The engine, of which its core is the Si's non-VTEC cylinder head and 2.3L short-block, was completed only five years into Wylie's Prelude quest--four years prior to having a car to stuff it in. Although a VTEC top-end swap would've been a likely approach to more power, instead, and not unlike the carbureted-era iron Wylie's accustomed to, the H23A's original, non-valve-manipulating cylinder head was put to work, bettered only by a pair of Crower cams, Racetech valvetrain, and a thorough port job. Underneath, JE pistons and Pauter rods ensure all holds together once boost is applied by means of the Master Power T-70 turbocharger. From the medium-frame turbo, a LoveFab Sidewinder exhaust manifold mates to the cylinder head in equal-length fashion. A TiAL blow-off valve and wastegate, along with fuel components from RC Engineering and Aeromotive, make up the brunt of the forced induction system. Calibration is handled with Hondata's S300 system, and torque is applied through a JUN flywheel and SPEC clutch combination. You'd not be mistaken to assume that, like the mid-'20s Boattail Bentley he'd once worked on, Wylie's Prelude follows similar suit, all but shunning forum monkeys and instead reading from its own script.
That an auto shop instructor would use his own lab to modify his own sled isn't surprising. That he'd do so with the help of his students just might be. Hear Wylie's words and you'll understand that his Prelude wouldn't be were it not for his students, though. And perhaps that's exactly how the former dealership-technician-turned-auto-shop-teacher wanted it. "I built my car at the school," Wylie says, who took the job some 12 years ago after suffering a back injury as a full-time technician. "Except for the machine work, all of the work was done at our school. Some of my advanced students worked on the car with me so that they could get the experience. Today, most of them are modding their own cars. It's really cool to see them creating and doing work on their own cars."
Come winter, Wylie's Prelude hibernates from the Illinois cold, in part to ensure it retains its little-old-lady condition and, in part, because his turbocharged '87 Accord has been delegated day-to-day duties. To be sure, Wylie's the first to admit that, if the weather's not cooperating, "She'll be a wintertime garage queen."
"The whole tuner thing for me is a natural progression," Wylie says, recounting his experiences with American muscle cars, collectable British road cars, and later Japanese sport compacts--a natural progression that concluded in a very good place.
Bolts & Washers
Crower Stage 2 forced induction cams
Crower dual valvesprings
Racetech titanium retainers
Ported and polished cylinder head
Racetech stainless steel valves
Bronze valve guides
Viton valve stem seals
10.0:1 JE pistons
Total Seal piston rings
Pauter X-Beam connecting rods
Micro-polished, cryo-treated crankshaft
H22A oil pump
Moroso oil pan
Custom and Speed1 engine mounts
Master Power T-70 turbocharger
LoveFab Sidewinder exhaust manifold
Custom stainless steel downpipe
Custom 3-inch exhaust system
TiAL F38 wastegate
TiAL BV 50mm blow-off valve
Custom aluminum intercooler piping
Custom front-mount intercooler
Custom air filter
BlackTrax intake manifold plenum spacer
Overbored OEM throttle body
Hondata S300 engine management
Toyota Supra Turbo fuel pump
OBX fuel filter
Overbored OEM fuel rail
RC Engineering 750cc/min. fuel injectors
Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
Earl's AN fuel fittings and lines
Pulstar spark plugs
OEM Honda ignition coils
Mishimoto aluminum radiator
Custom stainless steel and silicone radiator hoses
Coolingmist water/methanol injection system
Custom short shifter
SPEC Stage 3 clutch
Quaife limited-slip differential
Ksport Kontrol Pro coilovers
Tanabe chromoly front antisway bar
Tanabe chromoly rear antisway bar
Energy Suspension bushings
SPC front alignment kit
Megan Racing front shock tower brace
Megan Racing rear shock tower brace
'97'01 Prelude five-lug conversion
StopTech rotors, front
DBA rotors, rear
Goodrich steel braided lines
Wheels & Tires
18x7.5 Enkei STR5 +42 offset
225/40-18 Nitto Invo
Custom taillight paint
Custom flat-panel entertainment system
MOMO steering wheel
NRG Innovations steering wheel hub adapter
NRG Innovations quick-release hub
MOMO shift knob
MOMO shift boot
'95 Prelude center console
'95 Prelude subwoofer
HKS turbo timer
My darling wife Karen
My exceptional students Lupe, Shaun, Genaro, Edgar, Stephen
My good friend Donald
Inspiration For This Build
It was time for a new project.
More mods to the 'lude
As far as attention goes, Honda's VTEC engines get most of it. And for good reason. For the most part, VTEC engines can brag about a whole lot more than the simple fact that their valves can be electronically manipulated on the fly. Most also feature piston-cooling oil squirters, higher-compression pistons, superior rod-to-stroke ratios, more aggressive camshafts, and more efficient cylinder heads when compared to their non-VTEC counterparts. Unlike any other non-VTEC engine, though, Honda's H23A shares more similarities with its H22A sibling than not. To be sure, there is no easier VTEC conversion than that which is based off of the H23A short-block. For decades, record-setting racers have concurred on all points as the H23A bottom end has gone on to secure import drag racing records time and again.