1981 Honda Prelude convertible is rare, indeed

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Various sources report that for the 1981 model year, Honda offered factory warranty coverage on its Prelude models that were converted into convertibles by The Solaire Corporation, of Santa Ana, California. One source says that less than 100 were produced, another says it was around 50, another says 47, yet another claims there were only 37.

Regardless of the exact number produced, one of those 1981 Honda Prelude convertibles is the Pick of the Day, advertised for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in Ashland, Ohio.

The dealership claims only 37 such vehicles were produced and notes that “This car is in excellent condition and a collectors dream.”

The car has power brakes, a tachometer, AM/FM radio, rides on 13-inch wheels, has a manual transmission and is red with gray cloth interior and shows 112,000 miles on its odometer.

We found an online copy of a Solaire flier provided to Honda dealerships for its Prelude convertibles. The company told dealers that “Quality craftsmanship and strict attention to detail makes the Solaire a convertible you can sell with complete confidence.”

Among the features were a “High quality German type sailcloth” top with full rear window. The top folded flush into a well behind the dealer’s choice of a rear parcel tray or a “limited rear seat.” Solaire told dealers that it did “extremely strong sub framing” throughout the car for strength, including the windshield and rocker panels and rear shock tower areas. 

“Specially extruded front channel allows window roll up with extra built-in stability,” it said. “Finely machined cap pieces assist appearance and assure further side window stability.”

Honda rolled out its Prelude coupe for the 1979 model year. They were based on the Civic platform but came with engines from the Accord, which for 1981 meant a 72-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder linked to a 3-speed automatic or 5-speed manual.

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The ’81 Prelude convertible is advertised on ClassicCars.com for $10,500. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. What a unique car! Just the rarity of it made me think it must be worth much more then the asking price. Well upon seeing the rough shape under the hood and the plain dirty carpet on the floor in front of the drivers seat (it seems the dealer didn’t even take the time to vacuum it) I understand the low price of such a rare prelude

    • It’s not really rare, it’s just an older, modified vehicle. It’s not really unique because there’s thousands of old convertibles still on the road. To most, it’s just a old Honda that someone turned into a convertible.

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