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The One That Got Away
By Mike Earley

The year was 2001 and I was 18 years old, working that summer on a construction site, we were building an apartment complex.  While putting the finishing touches on the exterior of the apartment, there sat a car that had caught my attention over the last few days.  A red 1992 Honda Prelude, It wasn’t in particularly nice shape, but a good daily driver.  There was something about the body lines, the frontend, the interior and not to mention that dash. 

Fast forward 6 months, the 1988 Mazda B2200 pickup truck I was driving decided to spin a rod bearing.  I was now in the market for a new ride.  I began looking for a car like the one that had caught my attention last summer.  I was lucky enough to find a 1 owner Black 1992 Honda Prelude Si with only 92,000 miles on it.  During the test drive we pulled up next to a Ford Probe GT at the stop light.  He threw a few revs my way and I knew it was on!  I Revved that DOHC 2.3 Liter up, the light turned green and I dumped the clutch.  Spinning the tires through first gear and grabbing ahold of second gear we started pulling away from the Probe, with my dad in shotgun yelling at me  “Stop, Stop, Mike Stop it".  It was at that point I knew this was My Car!

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I daily drove the Prelude for about 3 years, and in that 3 years I learned a lot about wrenching on cars, tuning and trying to make more horse power.  One of the best things I learned was spraying a 55hp shot (nitrous) out of the whole on with a pair drag radials would but hurt a lot of Fox body Mustangs in the early 2000’s. But with power adders there is a learning curve,  I popped one motor on nitrous (75hp Shot) and grenaided 3 or 4 transmissions. During that steep "learning curve"  I meet some of my best friends and had the time of my life.

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Life gets in the way and I had to buy a truck for work, because running a construction business out of a Honda Prelude isn’t very practical.  So the car got sold and I bought a truck.  I still look back on that day and slightly regret the decision to sell the “Nude Lude”.    Cause just 2.5 years later (2007) I drove to Colorado and bought a new to me 92 Prelude with a bad motor and began the journey that is Project Prelude.

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My buddy AJ and I pulled the motor out, yanked off the bad head and swapped it for a good head and a new timing set. We had her purring like a kitten in a few nights. That was until that motor spun a rod bearing a few months later.  Out came the motor and in went a different short block for a few weeks until it to spun a bearing.  By this point I was out of H23’s and patience’s with this car so we started stripping the car down to do body work and paint while I saved up the money to buy my dream motor a JDM H23 Blue top.  We got the car stripped and in primer and into storage the Prelude went, for 12 years.  In 2020 I started my YouTube Channel Full Throttle Performance Speed Shop and was looking for more content so we drug Project prelude home and started working on it.  Over those 12 years she was in storage I had slowly amassed a majority of the parts needed to finish the car. 


 As a 17 year old kid with no idea how to do bodywork, let alone hang quarter panels, I was in way over my head. I had no choice but to figure it out or be left with a worthless pile of parts. 

Let’s skip ahead 3 years, on my 21st birthday Aaron and I were reinstalling the interior in the car, after I had painted it Cortez silver.  Needless to say I figured out how to do bodywork and paint.  I drove the car here and there the next few years with a 60 over 283 with 12-1 compression.

One day, the oil pump pickup tube fell off, and lost oil pressure and toasted my crank/bearings.  So in 2005 it was time to rebuild that motor. We kept the pistons and rods and on went a set of Dart Iron Eagles heads (200 cc, 2.08, 1.60 valves, and 49cc combustion chambers New compression ratio was around 13.5:1) Next came the .600 lift roller cam with roller rockers.  This thing was about as built as you can build an NA 283 and it never stopped pulling on the big end. But, the setup with the short stroke made it gutless down low with an automatic. 

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 In 2007 I ditched the Th350 automatic for a T56 six-speed and converted to E85.  All I have to say is this car never should have been an automatic, the stick shift made the car a blast to drive and the E85 made it so I could afford to drive it.  This setup stayed in the car for 10 years when the 283 threw a rod through both sides of the oil pan and chunked out one of the cylinder walls. 

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So, it was time to start the LS1 swap. I had scored a low mileage LS1 out of a 2002 Trans-am,  found a Cadillac CTSV blower on eBay, and had to fabricate 3/4” aluminum adapter plates (using a table saw, drill press, and die grinder) to convert the cathedral intake ports on the heads to the rectangle ports on the blower. 

Next we install a BTR Stage 3 Positive Displacement Blower cam, and had the heads cleaned up.  We mated the engine to a Mcleod RST clutch and upgraded the existing T56. This is the current setup we are running in the Chevelle today.

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