1989 Suzuki Sidekick JLX

Lot 63631, s/n JS4TA01C2K4101813. 59k miles. “1.6-liter inline 4, 3-speed automatic transmission, dual-range transfer case, Frosty Blue Metallic paint, removable white hard top, gray cloth upholstery, 15-inch wheels, front tow-bar mounts.” Condition: 1. SOLD AT $24,150. Bring a Trailer, 1/17/22.

We have seen the Suzuki Samurai gain considerable traction in the auction world. The Sidekick is essentially a Samurai evolved to offer ’90s-era driving comforts. This was not a modified Samurai/Jimny line; the Suzuki Sidekick (and its Geo Tracker sibling) was built on a whole new platform. Instead of solid front and rear axles with leaf springs found in the Samurai, the Sidekick was equipped with MacPherson struts in the front with a coil-sprung solid axle in the rear.

This car has the 1.6-liter fuel-injected engine pushing out a whopping 80 horses. That might not seem like much, but it is perfectly adequate for off-roading and city driving (though barely enough for modern highway use). The interior is more refined than the Samurai, with higher-quality panels and plastics.

Before buying, look out for a factory under-tightened crank bolt on 1.6-liter engines. Left alone, these end up breaking loose, causing the keyway and crankshaft to sheer. There is a homebrewed fix for this issue if caught soon enough, but many Suzuki engines have been killed. Sidekicks are a popular base for off-roading, with many modified far beyond a couple of bolt-ons. Which is why bidders didn’t hesitate to take this stock one over $20k. Well sold for now.

2001 Honda Prelude Type SH

S/N JHMBB61571C006134. 118k miles. “2.2-liter DOHC VTEC inline 4, rated at 200 hp and 156 ft-lb of torque, 5-speed manual transmission.” Condition: 2. SOLD AT $19,332. Cars & Bids, 12/29/21.

The fifth-generation Honda Prelude fits somewhere between a sportier Honda Accord and a slightly more-powerful Acura Integra in Honda’s ’90s–00s model lineup. 

This particular car is a Type SH, or “Super Handling,” which has Honda’s Active Torque Transfer System (ATTS). ATTS is a type of limited-slip differential that helps counteract the understeer found when cornering hard in this front-driver.

So why has the Integra shot up in value over the Prelude?

The Integra is based originally on the Civic platform, making many parts interchangeable. Unfortunately, the Prelude is based on the Accord platform, which wasn’t as popular to modify as the lightweight and sporty Civic was. This is not to say that the Prelude isn’t desirable or that there aren’t many aftermarket parts for them, but the Civic/Integra was far more popular at the time.

We are currently watching third-, fourth- and fifth-generation Preludes rise in value along with other now-collectible Honda models. This car would have been valued somewhere around $8k a decade ago. 

As Integra Type R prices continue to climb, this should trickle down to Integra GSR models and eventually, Preludes. This effect is what we are beginning to see here.

2007 Honda Element SC

Lot 62182, s/n 5J6YH18957L016895. 16k miles. “2.4-liter inline 4, 5-speed automatic transmission, Root Beer Metallic, black cloth upholstery, 18-inch wheels, factory CD stereo, cruise control, air conditioning, side-window rain guards.” Condition: 1. SOLD AT $37,800. Bring a Trailer, 12/23/21.

Honda of America’s research and design team came together to combine a pickup truck and an SUV to create the ultimate adventure rig. Unfortunately, it was marketed towards early-20s Millennials at a time when it was too expensive for most of them to be interested. Honda did, however, sell a fair amount of Elements in an eight-year run, totaling 335k examples in the U.S. market alone.

The SC trim on our subject vehicle was marketed towards trendy urban owners and came equipped with different bumpers, bigger wheels, lower suspension, and tribal-design interior details. The plastic floors make cleanup easy, the fold-up seats make space for bikes and other gear, and the various seating setups allow for unique car camping in the days of wanderlust.

Indeed, the real success for the Element came years later when it gained a cult status with the Millennials Honda originally marketed to, just much later in life. Low mileage on a unique trim of a now cult-classic car led to this high price. Are all Honda Elements worth this much? Probably not, but we might see the nicest ones start to rise in value. Well sold.

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