I bought my 1998 Prelude Base Coupe 4sp. manumatic with 74K miles on it in 2006 as my first car. LOVED it! It was the best car I ever owned. In the year that I had it, I only replaced the O2 sensor. Not bad. The reason I had to get rid of it? It cost me too much to keep it. I was only 17, not making much money and couldn't afford the low profile tires (stock wheels, mind you), the premium fuel and, of course, the insurance company ate me alive. I didn't do my homework before I bought it. So, if you can afford the cost of ownership, this will be a great car.
i've owned the car for 2 years, bought it at 200,000km and drove it till 280,000km. as with all cars with high mileage, you must look at what the previous owners did for maintence. in the case of my prelude, EVERYTHING started to break down from leaking raditors to starter problems. My cost of ownership was high, BEWARE its hard to find a prelude that is in good condition.
I bought this car with 256000km's (159000 miles) on the car and finally bought a new car. It currently has 320000 kms (199000 miles). I'll be honest, Ive never driven a brand new Prelude, but from what I can see, considering the milage was high, it still booted, vtec'd, and sound like a fast sportscar. from 256000 to 320000 kms, i only worried about oil changes and gas. i had a couple of small things that had to be changed - fan belt, rotors, and exhaust. These are all 'maintenance' issues. This car is a soldier, and I abused the hell out of the car, and it just wont die. It is rusty as hell, and so now that I bought my new car, my prelude satisfies the carefree in me.
I own the tiptronic model, standard 2.2L, no fancy wancy vtec. Overall the Prelude is a beautiful car, thankfully the previous owners kept up the servicing and didn't thrash the living daylights out of it. My model is completely stock, straight out of the box, and I am very impressed. Tiptronic is great, you have the choice of just cruising around town in auto mode, or slapping the stick over to the side and drive it like a manual, changing gears without lifting the throttle - an added bonus. Great for open road cruising (Auckland to Cape Reinga and back (done 950+KM in two days) Excellent car. No nonsense. Safe. Reliable. End of story. Buy it!