To illustrate a discussion elsewhere here I have annotated a 1999 Honda Prelude, or the bits I am referring to.
The very first thing one might notice about the Prelude is its wanton simplicity. There are no bump strips on the body side. The lamps are oblongs. There is no feature-line at the c-pillar to rear wing. The grille is a slat. And then you look again.
First, the bonnet line is very nearly, but not quite so flat as to suggest – suggest – it is inclined in a way opposite to one’s expectations. The window line’s lower edge is slightly curved and not dead straight like the two nearly-parallel lines on the body side. Those lamps aren’t square but very, very slightly oblong and make the front look narrower than it might be, offsetting the horizontal slat.
The boot is slightly higher than it might be so that there is not one line from front lamp to the rear. There is a small amount of noise in all the order and plain-ness. I can’t help feeling all of this was deliberate. Your eye never settles but roams over the shape, resting here and there and moving on.
It didn’t sell well. The Ford Focus Mk2 has something of the same austerity and that was hastily face-lifted to make it more digestible. All of those blank spaces on the Honda have attracted the tuning crowd. This apparent simplicity is too much to leave alone.