Who’d have thunk it? Just when you believed you’d never see another two door coupe again in our lifetime, we get hit upside the head with several upcoming or proposed cars with the same number of side doors as a Chevy Monte Carlo. Recently, spy shots of the new 2024 Dodge Charger show that the rear doors from the first revival model have somehow gone missing; we’re looking at a true-to-the-sixties-original coupe. In a day and age when there are things like the “Eclipse Cross” and other such slap-the-name-on-a-crossover shenanigans, it’s amazing to see the two door bodystyle possibly making a return. There’s more! The hottest story around auto publication office water coolers has been Honda’s resurrection of the Prelude name for a new concept, which, true to original, is a real coupe and not some squashed four door with the “coupe” name. It’s exciting, but there are some tweaks that I’d make to get it to look more like a true Prelude.
The Prelude concept is a slick enough looking design that bears much resemblance to the proposed Tesla roadster, as well as other models in Elon’s lineup. Some have compared it to the latest Toyota Prius. Actually, the concept bears a resemblance to a number of cars, with possibly one exception: any Honda Prelude.
Like the concept or not, the vast majority of commenters on sites don’t think this concept has anything that says “Prelude” in its design. A company has the right to throw a name they own onto anything they want, but you’d think that whatever they stick it on should have some visual reference to other cars with the name, right? This one doesn’t. That’s like Dodge making a Challenger reboot that looks like a tribute to a 1978 Magnum XE [Ed Note: Or making a four-door Charger! -DT]. If anything, this Prelude concept looks more like a tribute to Honda’s own Accord coupe from the early 2000s.
A Prelude should look like a Prelude, and with a few minor changes (and one big one) we could probably make that happen pretty quickly.
Introduced in late 1978, this Accord-based sporty-but-not-a-sports-car entry was a mainstay of the Honda lineup through five generations and twenty-two years, eventually succumbing to the Great Coupe Purge of the early 2000s. With each new model, there were certain design elements that were a constant. Take a look at the family tree below and you’ll see the commonalities.
Each of these generations features a notchback design with similar-shaped rear quarter windows. There’s also a low nose — so low that some models utilized pop up headlamps to meet headlight height requirements. The new Prelude concept below seems to have none of these features.
Let’s make some changes. The roofline can be easily altered to more of a Prelude-style notchback which actually seems to accentuate the muscular rear quarters. I’m also assuming this thing has a rear seat, and a more upright notchback roofline would help headroom significantly.
Up front, it might be difficult to lower the height of the nose considering the mechanicals that are concealed beneath the skin of this could-be-a-barely-disguised production car. That’s not a problem _ graphically we can use low headlamps and an even lower grille opening to make the front end not only seem lower but give the illusion of a longer hood. Details simulate the front end treatments on Preludes from years past. The LED daytime running lights simulate sealed beams and call to mind the look of the original car (or, without illumination, the nose looks a bit like the second generation car).
Here’s all of those changes together:
The Prelude was actually the first Honda (and maybe first car ever) to offer a certain feature as standard — a feature that was part of the specification of every Honda that bore the Prelude name up to the end. The 2023 concept doesn’t have it. That’s right — it doesn’t have a moonroof, and based on the look of that top, it — like the Toyota GR86 — doesn’t appear to have provisions for one! That power glass sunroof was the calling card of this little coupe from day one, so making one without a moonroof would be like building a front wheel drive Camaro.
We’ll have to add a moonroof of course, and it should be a you-call-that-a-knife over-the-top moonroof. I’m envisioning a two-piece system where the entire glass roof will retract and stack on top of the rear backlight.
It’s not too dissimilar to this one from Lincoln:
I missed if any interior shots of the new concept exist (I don’t think so), but it wouldn’t matter since I’d like to take a direction that I’m sure they won’t take. The first Prelude had quite an interesting instrument panel where the speedometer was concentric with the tachometer, and warning lights floated in front of both gauges.
Our concept will feature a “vortex” style instrument cluster which is deeply dished with speed and range indicators arranged along the side so that every drive feels like you’re staring at the video game “Tempest”.
Don’t for one minute think that I’m knocking Honda for bringing back one of their old favorites. It takes guts to go against the grain of an industry that appears to be getting more anti-sedan every day with an actual two door coupe. I only hope that they put a just that tiny bit of effort into it to keep the legacy of the name they placed on it alive.