ROTM January: Richard Judge’s ’85 Prelude.


If you’ve ever ventured into some of the more popular forums like 3Geez, Prelude Power or even Car Domain, you may have crossed paths with the owner of our latest Ride of the Month: Richard Judge.

Richard has been an active member on several Honda forum sites for quite a while but presently spends most of his forum time over on, where he is actively seeking and experimenting with improving the diesel version of the 1 Series. While his attentions have been focused elsewhere as of late Richard is still a Honda nut to the core, and as such also has a stable full of 2nd Gen Preludes to match:



Aside from his latest addition: A super mint low mileage (Only 30,000KM!) EX (Above Left) that he bought from a proverbial “Little old lady”. He also has a rare another rare gem indeed: An EDM spec Lude with the much sought after B20A, which has become another ongoing project on his automotive To-Do list (Bottom Center, If the hood didn’t give it away).

In this case we’re looking at Richard’s 85 DX.  He’s the second owner, and has had it since it had only 66,000 miles on it, now it’s almost up to 200,000 and still running strong. When it comes to their 2G Prelude it seems most people are content to lower it, slap on a cold air intake and some new rims and call it a day. There isn’t a lot of aftermarket support for pre-88 Preludes, so if you’re gonna try and milk more power out of the A18 or A20 for the most part you’ll be going it alone. Richard realized it’s potential and set to work building a car he could take to the track and have a little fun on the street with as well.



Now at first glance this car doesn’t blow you away. Richard freely admits there’s flashier machines out there, but I think it’s still aesthetically pleasing: The color used was Stratosphere Blue, which seems like a close match to the factory color  Montreal Blue. He’s got a few other personal touches like a Momo race wheel, a carbon fiber shift knob, a set of Corbeau bucket seats, and some extra gauges to keep an eye on things.  Don’t let the understatedness of it fool you, the beauty in this car isn’t supposed to be it’s appearance: Richard’s focus on improving the performance of his ride has ended up giving him a car that doesn’t scream out for attention from the police…You might say it’s a bit of a wolf in coyote’s clothing (The Prelude has never been a sheep).





Wikipedia shows the factory weight for the 2nd gens as being between 1,046 kg (2,306 lb) and 1,340 kg (2,954 lb). Richard’s gotten the weight in his down to about 850Kg (1874 lbs). 100 horsepower per ton is usually considered a good power to weight ratio if you want a car with a bit of pep that’s fun to drive. In current trim Richard’s Prelude is producing more than twice that number so we’re willing to bet that driving it is just a blast.

Not content with simply doing some weight reduction Richard modified his A18. With his aftermarket options pretty limited, he set about doing things in his own fashion. He started by re-boring the block to A20 specs, throwing in some higher compression pistons from an A20a 3/4  and shaved the deck as well. He topped it all off with an A18 head that was extensively ported, polished, and modified to accept a custom set of larger valves. All this handiwork boosted the compression to about 11.5:1. In order to take advantage of the added potential he also installed a custom cam from Piper Cams with 10 mm of lift and a 285 degree duration.



He told us that after he finished his latest engine mods he took it to the dyno only to get confusing results: The dyno guy told him he only got 150 Horsepower out of it. After a moment of confusion Richard asked how high he had revved it. The mechanic said that he doesn’t go past 6500 Rpm with old 80’s 4 cylinder motors but after being assured it wasn’t just “any old motor” he tried again, this time revving it up to 8500 and finding the “sweet spot” at 7600. Richard feels that the A engines seem to be under rated in terms of reputation and also in terms of output and RPM limit and I bet he’s right: After convincing the dyno guy to take a more aggressive stab at the gas pedal the car dynoed at 200bhp @7600rpm and 160lbft at 5600rpm. With it’s previous engine (And lousy tires) it ran 14’s in the quarter mile, he estimates his new set-up will net him mid 13’s. Pretty impressive for a NA high mileage four banger from the mid eighties!


This car is fast but she’s not just fast in a straight line. Anyone who’s driven a Prelude knows they LOVE the turns,  so while he does actually race the quarter mile with it, this car sees track time out in the twisties. Richard set out and modded the upper control arms to allow for more negative camber, and he even custom fitted some GAZ adjustable coilovers with damping adjustment. Look him up if you’re a 2G owner in search of a pair, as he’s actually sold several of them already! With the suspension upgraded to the point where this already great handling car handles like it’s on rails Richard moved along to the brakes, upgrading to a custom set with lightweight 4 piston calipers, grooved rotors, etc.



The list of improvements is long:




Interior and Weight Reduction:


  • Cobra bucket seats.
  • Interior removed.
  • Stereo removed.
  • Steering wheel Momo race.
  • Carbon fibre shift knob.
  • Headlight motors removed and fixed upright.
  • Removed all unnecessary brackets and bolts.
  • Rear antiroll bar and brackets removed.
  • Custom door panels.
  • Coming Soon:
  • Side windows and regulators removed and replaced with plexiglass.
  • Hinges and locks for hood and trunk will be replaced with pins.

Suspension and Wheel Mods:


  • Customized GAZ Coilovers, with adjustable height and damping.
  • Super pro poly bushings on front suspension parts.
  • Modified Front Camber arms  for  up to -4 degrees negative camber.
  • 15″ BSA 5 Spoke alloys.

Cylinder Head:


  • A18 spec with custom stainless valves made by SI.
  • 33mm inlet and 37mm exhaust valves, bronze guides fitted.
  • Double valve springs.
  • Extensive porting and flowing done to head and associated parts.
  • Piper Cams 285 rally camshaft with 10mm lift.

Engine/Transmission mods:


  • A18 re-bored to A20 specs.
  • A20a3/4 pistons.
  • Skimmed block and A18 head.
  • ACL racing bearings used for main and big end bearings.
  • Higher torqued rod bolts.
  • Oversized and hand gapped Hastings piston rings.
  • Clutchnet Red racing plate x2 with sprung hub organic faced disk.
  • Stock flywheel machined down to 10lbs in weight.
  • Custom 2″ downpipes with 2.5″ mandrel bent stainless steel system with two sports silencers attached to extensively modified stock cast manifold.
  • Dual Weber DCOE 45’s extensively modified with custom made 42mm chokes, smoothed and polished internals, countersunk screws in spindles, bell mouthed extra long trumpets.
  • Splitfire Ignition leads and Nology silver non-resistor racing plugs.
  • Transmission is from a 3rd gen accord with 1st Gen Integra internals with higher ratios on 3rd/4th/5th gears, racing bearings fitted.
  • Gates timing belt and pulley belt.
  • A high performance blue head gasket from Fel-Pro was used to deal with the boost in compression, and all other gaskets used were also from Fel-Pro and Ajusa.


While the earlier Preludes might normally get ignored for lacking in performance, Richard’s is certainly one of the most capable I’ve ever seen, and breaks the stereotype. He continues to fiddle with it to this day. Future plans involve a paint job, MORE weight reduction, a hotter cam and adjustable cam gear, a distributorless ignition system and he’s even been tempted by the idea of throwing a turbo into the mix. When it comes to track machines this is one work horse that just keeps running. In the meantime though he’s got other projects to tackle: I for one can’t wait to see what he does with that B20!

Keep ’em rollin folks!

Ethan – Editor.

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