These are a long way from being all that good as photos. However, it is a rare chance to show a Honda Prelude in the wild.
I am not any kind of Helmut Newton so I have to present this messy collection of mediocre images of the now-quite-rare Honda Prelude. Over the course of a week I had many opportunities to photograph the car and never got one image I was really happy with. That’s why you get this series I can pompously call “a study” but which is really a set of failures. These smudges are the photos I got, without editing. It’s not even a comprehensive 360 of the car: I seem to have got bogged down with the headlamps
Missing: I don’t have a photo of the car from the front or a clear rear three-quarter (it’s in shadow), or dead-on front and dead-on rear. In my defense, the car remained parked against a chain and didn’t move so that view was always going to be tricky.
The headlamps and their four corners attracted my attention.
It’s a very rational approach to solving the problem of how to integrate the lamps into the front end. It is a cut-out taking area from three adjoining surfaces: the bonnet (major), the wing, (minor) and bumper (minor). The radii on the corners steer clear of the panel gaps which works well with that type of lamp unit (glass) which demands larger radii than, for example, the polycarbonate ones we see today.
This form is of a piece with the other elements of the exterior.
It is from this view (admittedly not an obvious one) that the lamp concept runs into a small problem of two intersecting curves surfaces: the outline of the lamp and the front wing.
Even the un-dented right side has the kind of curve you would not want to draw. This effect is the result of the two curves having different geometries. Whereas the lamp outline is defined by a projected extrusion (constant and parallel to the car’s longitudinal axis) and the more complex 3D form of the wing surface which changes in all three axes.
That detail is not enough to distract from the main point of this item. The Prelude bathed in bad lighting, in a restricted setting and I had an i-Phone and not much talent. The Prelude deserves much more than this because it is a design of rare subtlety. Many designers try to push the boat out by elaborating something, by expression and extra force (a more curvy line than is needed, a few more degrees of rake, more width et cetera).
The Honda team opted for understatement and by nudging lines and proportions very slightly towards oddness but no so you’d notice it at first glance. As a drawing, the Prelude must have been very quiet.
As a clay model it might have seemed unfinished. Only when it reached the stage of being pressed metal could the designer be sure that the understatment would not simply translate into inaudibility. That takes a lot of confidence because the only way of knowing the design would work was to push the button on the machinery of the production line – something rather harder than pushing the button on my camera.