Honda Prelude VTi Tuning Bible


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The Honda Prelude is a coupe that was first manufactured back in the late 1970s, with the last model rolling off the production line in 2001. Although the Japanese car maker has many iconic models, such as the Civic Type-R, the Prelude deserves a special place in the hearts of car enthusiasts.

Loosely based on the Accord, the Prelude faced competition from the likes of the Toyota Celica. While the Prelude never had the runaway success of its brother, the Accord Coupe, it was and still is quite a unique coupe.

Arguably the most popular version is the fifth-generation VTI model; if you’re the proud owner of this model, this tuning bible is for you! Here’s what you need to know (and do) to bring out the best of your Prelude VTI:


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Engine Tuning

Before you do anything to your Prelude VTI, it’s important that your project car has a healthy heart (i.e. engine). Otherwise, the money you spend on it will be wasted!

The thing is, the Prelude is very cheap to buy these days and so if your car’s power plant is shot, you can either get a transplant from a donor Prelude or just buy another example with a working engine. So, if your motor has sounded the death knell, there are plenty of junk yards that buy cars with dying or dead motors.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s begin! As standard, your Prelude VTI comes with a 2.2-liter 16-valve engine that delivers around 197 horsepower. As a good starting point, it’s worth fitting a stainless steel exhaust system from the catalytic converter back and having the ECU remapped. You should also consider having the cylinder head “ported and polished” to improve the air/fuel flow through the cylinders.


The above engine upgrades should see you getting at least 200 horsepower from your Prelude VTI – hooray! Next, you should turn your attention to the suspension. The stock setup is okay, but it’s nothing to write home about. To start improving it, you should replace the shock absorbers and springs with a firmer and lower upgrade kit.

While you’re at it, replace the stock bushings for polyurethane ones. Given the age of the car, it’s most likely the rubber bushings on your VTI are quite worn. Once you’re done, complete the look by scrapping the stock alloy wheels and getting some bigger ones with grippy tires!

Exterior Looks

Despite the fact that your Prelude VTI is probably 19 years old, the styling and design of the car still blend in well with today’s newer coupes. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t make any improvements!

If you want to keep the styling of the car subtle, just opt for a full respray to eradicate any dents, chips, and scratches on the body panels. The front headlight lenses are prone to yellowing, so it’s worth restoring or replacing them to complement your newly painted car.

Should you want to make your Prelude’s body styling more unique, there are plenty of aftermarket kits that you can consider. Obviously, it makes sense to have any body kits fitted BEFORE you get the car resprayed.

Good luck!