Four Wheel Steering. NOT Four Wheel Drive.
In the 1980's, Japanese car companies were looking for a gimmick to market their flagship vehicles. Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Mazda all developed their own system to steer the rear wheels. However, Mitsubishi (VR4), Toyota (Celica GT-R), and Mazda (MX6) used systems that were electronically actuated, which removed control from the driver and were unpredictable during panic turns.
Honda's solution (after years of testing and development based on how people drive in the real world) was 100% mechanical and debuted in the 1988 3rd generation Honda Prelude. Because it is fully mechanical it requires no servicing and there has been no history of a system ever failing, even after nearly 20 years and 300000 miles of driving. It uses an ingenious eccentric lobe system to turn the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels when little steering input is used (like at high speeds), and then go opposite direction when the steering is cranked hard (for parking or U-turns). This makes the car more stable during lane-change manoeuvring, and also makes it one of the tightest-turning cars on the street. The feel of all four wheels transmitted through the steering wheel to the driver is impeccable.
In 1988 the 4WS Prelude was the best-handling car of all time, even beating the 1988 Corvette and several high-end European cars through the slalom. (tested by Road & Track)
Unfortunately Honda moved to an electronic system with the 1992 4th generation Prelude, which was prone to failure. Few people sprung for the option, and it was removed from the US market. Japanese and European 4g and 5g Preludes (including 2001, the last model year) were still available with the electronic 4WS system.
Chevy introduced a system called QuadraSteer in their 2001 truck line, but like other electronic systems it was doomed to failure, being removed as an option in 2006.
Man, if Honda had kept the mechanical version on all models of the Prelude, we'd all be driving 4WS cars today!
...can I ride with you when you parallel park your 4WS car?
You want to drag race a 4WS car? Please. I'll take you on all day in the twisties, even with half the horses you do.
My 4WS Prelude is so much cooler than your MX6.
Prices shown in USD.
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