Monday, 5 October 2009

Arrivals and departures

O.K. Sorry for the lack of updates but things have been pretty busy here. If I'm not at work I'm either writing or at the gym. It is all good but leaves the poor old blog a bit neglected. Since my last update covered part of my search for a new car it seemed logical to resume by saying that I have found one. A 1998 Honda Prelude VTi, a rare manual example. Despite my general enthusiasm for automatic transmissions I think the synchromesh gearbox is the one to have if you're going to buy a Prelude. Given the rumours of problematic auto-boxes the DIY-transmission certainly seems like a safer bet.

So far I am delighted with it. Some minor details feel a little penny pinched compared with my old 1989 Preludes. Things like the lack of seat memory and unlined coin tray suggest that the accountants took their pound of flesh. Somehow fake wood on the centre console is poor compensation for what has been lost. At least the double wishbone suspension and four-wheel steering escaped the axe - a large part of the pleasure of driving the Prelude is down to the way it handles and steers. Unfortunately I can't make a direct comparison with my old Preludes but not only is there an improvement in grip and responsiveness but also the ride is much more comfortable.

Other noticeable improvements over the old Prelude include more performance and surprising smoothness from the V-tec engine. Especially gratifying is the smoother transition between the two cam profiles - the 1992 Prelude I drove, which gave me my first taste of Honda's variable valve timing and lift technology, suffered a noticeable step between the two stages. Despite the improved performance fuel economy seems no worse than my old, automatic Prelude and a 60-litre fuel tank gives more than adequate range - at the expense of a big bill if you have to refill and almost empty tank.


Getting the Prelude meant saying goodbye to my Citroen BX14. Sold to a BX enthusiast I'm happy that it has gone to a good home. I must admit I never bonded with 'Pierre' in the way that I did with the BX I had before, Claude. Funny how both French cars gained nicknames but neither my current Honda nor any of the others received that honour.

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