Things aren't always what they seem. Take this Prelude for example. Fun car, right? Flashy and fit. And if you're like me-which means you ate six White Castle burgers too many last night-then you're probably saying to yourself, "That car is freaky-deaky, ho-up, and show-up." And then (hopefully) you would backhand yourself for saying something stupid like that and go back to watching MTV's Real World: Las Vegas.
But I bet you're also thinking, What sort of bad-ass out-of-control party animal is the man-no, not man-mega-man behind such a riotous car? He's probably ripping through clubs, raging like Sammy Hagar and collecting digits like it's going out of style. Well, you're wrong. "It's like having another full-time job," the owner, TJ Topper, tells me. No leopard print spandex in sight. "Building this car has been hard work."
He's not lying. We scheduled this photo shoot last fall and he's been working on it ever since. That's six months of intense construction and lots of waiting around for the car to come back from the shop. And when Topper (aka Topp Dawg-not really) got it back from the stereo lab a week before the shoot, the car died. He didn't get it to turn over till late last night. And though it's balmy right now, yesterday was a slobbering mess-rainy, windy, and cold. "I don't have a garage," he says. "So Polk Audio lent me a tent. We worked under that."
A tent? That's no setup for someone who is currently appearing (with his car) in a major Polk Audio print campaign. Topper needs to fire his agent.
Supercharged For PleasureIt's been a while since Honda pulled the plug on the Prelude. You don't see many of them around these days. And you've never seen any like this. Its long chassis sits low on the pavement like a Landspeeder. There's zero gap between wheelwell and tires, which hug a set of mint 19x8.5 HP Racing Evo wheels. For some people, 19-inch wheels with monster two-inch lips might be a little too much to handle. Those people probably also share milkshakes at Chuck E. Cheese after their Magic: The Gathering tournaments while T-Bone's out there kicking butt and taking names, and then kicking their nameless butts all over again.
And this is the perfect car to do it in. When TJ pops the hood, the first thing I see is the Jackson Racing supercharger behind the chromed H22A. It's jet-coated red and stands out like a Frenchman in a soap shop in Alaska. It's accompanied by a Jackson Racing oil cooler, DC Sports header, GReddy exhaust, Crane Cams ignition coils, and much more. "I love the supercharger," TJ says and he doesn't mean it in a biblical way. "It's just starting to run right. We're adjusting the FMU for less fuel. Once that's done, it should be good."
On cue, a Firebird makes a slow drive-by before grunting a loud launch from the nearest stop sign. We turn to watch. "He's saying, 'Nice car, but mine's faster,'" TJ muses. "But little does he know about the supercharger."
The Tight Side, The Right SideOn the inside, the car is more loaded than an Apache attack copter on its way to the Gulf. It's got MOMO everything, from the race seats to the pedals. There's an Auto Meter Monster Tach to the right of the steering wheel and a Polk Audio center speaker to the right of that. Below them is an A'PEXi V-AFC and a Pioneer head unit with CD player and TV display (with a Pioneer DVD player in the glove box).
Now a lesser man might have stopped there. A lesser man might have said, "Woomp, there it is!" and gone home to eat White Castle burgers and play Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (and there's nothing wrong with that). But not Topper. Remember, he's the Topp Dawg. And the Topp Dawg took one long look at those rear seats, cried a lonely tear, and ripped them out with his large manly hands, spilling seat guts all over his tent garage (I'm only guessing here, but guessing is half the battle). And while the front half of the car is all performance, the back half is now wired for sweet, sweet sound.
The back seats have been replaced with two Pioneer 480w four-channel amps, a single Pioneer 200w two-channel amp, and a large bottle of nitrous, which is part of a 50-shot Nitrous Express system. If you open the carbon-fiber trunk lid (from xr8tedlidds) you'll find two plexiglass enclosures with two Polk Audio 12-inch subs bringin' down da hiz-ouse for shiz-ouse. Or not.
One thing is for certain, however. The Prelude is the complete deal, inside and out. And you'll be able to catch this car in person all over the country. There are 20 shows on the Topper calendar this year, including the International Auto Salon in Los Angeles. It's a tight schedule, but it'll be more fun than when the car was getting retooled at the shop.
"The car was a daily driver, but for the last year I've not had the car long enough to drive it much," Topper says. "I would get the car from a shop, take it to a show, and bring it back to another shop when I got back. Hopefully, now I will have the car in my possession and I can enjoy it a little more."
Owner TJ Topper
Hometown Baltimore, Maryland
Daily Grind Owner of Maryland Apparel & Promotions
Ride '98 Honda Prelude
Under The Hood 2.2L DOHC VTEC, Jackson Racing supercharger, oil cooler, and fuel pump; AEM intake, GReddy exhaust, DC Sports header, battery tie down, spark plug wire cover, and short shift kit; B&M fuel regulator, Fluidyne radiator, Crane Cams ignition, NGK plugs, Unorthodox Racing cam gears, Nitrous Express 50-shot nitrous system, A'PEXi V-AFC controller, Ignited push button start, chrome valve cover, ACT clutch, Fidanza flywheel, all tuning done by Jeff Lease
Stiff Stuff Ground Control coilovers, Tokico shocks, DC Sports front and rear sway bar, Auto Power rollbar
Rollers 19x8.5 HP Racing Evo wheels (gun-metal grey), 235/35ZR19 Toyo Tires T1S tires
Stoppers SSBC big brake kit in front (13.1-inch rotors with two-piston calipers) and brake lines, Power Slot slotted rotors in the rear, EBC brake pads
Outside White Diamond Pearl paint, APR carbon-fiber Formula GT Wing, xr8edlidds carbon-fiber trunk lid, carbon-fiber hood, Speedesign custom graphics, Complete Aero Kits Shogun kit, PIAA 2400XT foglights, bodywork by Extreme Body and Paint
Inside Momo Street Racer seats, Silver Jet steering wheel, Silver Shot shift knob, shift boot, parking brake handle and boot, pedals, floormats, door sills, and harnesses; Auto Meter Monster Tach and gauges (boost, air/fuel, oil pressure), 3M window tint
ICE Dual Polk/MOMO MM12 custom-enclosed subwoofers, EX3560 component system, and EX3 6.5-inch coaxial center channel, Pioneer CD head-unit (P7000) and brain (P8000) to run head unit, DVD player, one 200w two-channel amp (GM-X36-), two 480w four-channel amps (GM-X564), Rockford (RFQ5000) 5.1 Dolby Processor, Monster Cable wiring
Props Jeff Lease, my mechanic; Dave and Dave (Stitch) at No Limit, Thom and Josh at Polk Audio, John and Kevin at Speedesign Custom Graphics, K.C. at APR, Dave at ACT, Rob at Toyo, Paul at Fluidyne, Shawn at Unorthodox Racing, Michael and Ray at SSBC, Eric and Brian at Power Slot, Ron and Cindy at Auto Meter, Rob at PIAA, Mike at MOMO/Wilco, DC Sports, Michael at Tokico, Edmund at Clean Tools, Brian at Nitrous Express, Nick at Street Glow, Mike at GReddy, Shaun at Ignited, Time at Fidanza, Santi at HP Racing, Tony at Crane Cams, John and Jan at Extreme Body and Paint, Speed Lab Clothing, Shane at Complete Aero Kits, Brian Fox at Fox Marketing, Team Speedesign, my parents for their support