Sorry to hear all that, you must have got a hold of a "not so easy to find in a Honda", lemon. My 91' Prelude was purchased in 97' It now has 119,000 miles and is running great. I plan on keeping it. You might try another Lude, they are not all crap!!!
You said you have the 2.1. The 2.1 is junk and a oil burning mess. I would have gone with the b20 instead of the b21. I have 250000 miles not a problem.
I bought my '91 2.1 with 153,000 miles and have had the same problems. Slave cylinder, oil leak, radiator, radio stopped working, and the engine just quit running for no reason. If I was making a movie I don't think this car would run of a cliff.
I owned a prelude 3rd generation for 2 years now. I bought it in 2003. Until now I still like this car. Although it has bringing me problem such as the auto gear need to be replaced, the air-condition coil need to replace, etc...
However I still think prelude is a nice car to be own. The car features is great, and all the accessories such as cruise control, power windows, sunroof etc are working well as well.
I have one of these disapointments and let me tell you, it is the wort car I have ever owned. Again the engine blew for no apparent reason and the new one now uses oil like mad. Everything that could have possibly broke has.
There cars get a 1 out of 10 for poor reliability from me along with others I know as well.
I have a 1991 prelude I bought it at 170,000 and at 200,000 steel moving I have had one problem with it is the cv joints, but I know someone was doing burnouts.
I own a 1991 prelude 2.0 si, b20a5.. I love the car, I bought it off an older couple for $3,000.. a great deal seeing as the motor only had 94,000 miles with one original owner. I had to replace the radiator and thermostat after about 4,000 miles, but other than that it still runs really strong and clean. it's a great vehicle I love it!
The 2.1, from what I'm told has some carbon fiberesque sleeves in the cylinder walls, causing the oil burning problem. The 2.1 is a great engine with a long life span if one can look past the burning of oil. I've got over 200,000 miles on mine, and I'm replacing the timing belt as we speak. Valves aren't bent, and it should be running like a champ again in an hour or so. You can have the sleeves removed from the cylinders, and have a sweet ride again when needing a rebuild, instead of buying a 2.0.
I have a 91 Prelude SI, and have fallen in love with it. It does burn more oil than gas, but for being so old, I still spank Del Sol stock for stock. Do some digging, and find some parts; it's not that bad of a motor.
I bought a '91 Prelude Si 4ws from the original owner with 145,000 miles for $2,000. It was the best deal ever. I think the people that have so many problems with theirs probably bought it from someone who abused it. The only problem I have with mine is the original owner was from back East, and it is so rusty under the car. I want to lower it, but cannot without destroying the lower control arms. So if anyone knows where I can get those parts, (aside from a dealer) hit me up. email@example.com.
I got my SI4 in 1995 with ~50K. on the clock. It now has 156K.
I believe the maint. manual says to change the timing belt every 70-90K miles. The CV boots can go any time. It only costs a little more to replace the complete axle. The engine has alloy sleeves in the cyl. If you plan to keep the vehicle take it to a GOOD shop & have them replaced with steel sleeves. That will take care of the burning oil. Change the oil & filter every 3K! Use a good brand of oil. Keep up with rust around the rear wheel wells.
I still get 32-33 MPG. and expect to put another 100-150K on it!!
I own a 1991 Honda Prelude SI, the 2.1 motor. Got it for 375 bucks with a cracked head. Replaced the head with all needed gaskets and didn't have a problem with it until about 3 months after I got it running. Started overheating. Was sucking in air through the overflow container, didn't have enough fluid in it so it just sucked air in. Put more fluid in the system and bled the entire system for air. Ran fine for about another month, then the water pump went out. Decided to take everything apart, replaced water pump, timing belt, crankshaft pulley, cam gears, radiator and hoses, and exhaust manifold. Go Chikara! After we got everything put back together it has been running strong. Has about 101,000 miles on it.
You might check your stop watch... off by about 2.5 seconds... I have just bought an 88 with 4wheel steering, that's whats really cool about this car, check out the wiki page for Preludes.
"In 1987, Road & Track published a test summary that shows the 1988 Honda Prelude 2.0Si 4WS outperforming every car of that year on the Slalom, including all Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Porsches. It went through the slalom at 65.5 mph (105.4 km/h), an amazing result for the time. For reference, the 1988 Corvette took the same course at 64.9 mph (104.4 km/h)."
And... That's stock and 16.8 1/4 mile is plenty quick for any car as nimble as the 4ws Prelude.
The 91 Acura NSX is the 14 second 1/4 mile Honda car.
As for the opening comments... Too bad cause I've heard nothing but great reviews of this car... yours is truly the only negative thing I've heard other than the b20a5 engine not having enough aftermarket performance parts...
Keep it stock, it'll last longer while you squirm around the expensive car morons on the back roads... I live in N CAL and the back roads around here are full of overpriced sports cars... I love it when they finally pull over and let me pass... I just smile... and crank the 600 watts of Jimi Hendrix up a few more notches... 30 years ago I was 20 and had trick Datsun 510... thought I'd gotten all that drive fast kid stuff out of my system.. then I bought the Prelude... it always out performs my courage behind the wheel...
Thanks for letting me share, Frank.