We encountered a bullet-shaped first generation Honda Insight on the freeway the other day and found it truly inspiring. Because we’ve completed our first anniversary at Feral Cars, we figured we’d cut ourselves some slack by covering a car that is newer than our standard 22+ years old rule. Honda’s Jetsons-style two-seater was a noble experiment, a truly avant-garde take on what a pioneering hybrid car should be. And fender skirts were standard equipment!
It was hand built for seven years, starting in 1999, in the same plant as the Acura NSX supercar and like the NSX, was a test bed for the use of advanced, lightweight materials; it weighed a mere 1,850 pounds, less than half the avoirdupois of a Civic of the era. Of course, the fact that it was so light and was propelled by a combination of electricity and a three cylinder one liter motor and had an aerodynamic body with a drag coefficient lower than a Lamborghini Murcielago’s was a formula for record breaking fuel economy. In fact, according to the EPA, the original Insight is the most fuel efficient non-EV to have been sold in the U.S. in the past quarter century: 49 mpg/61 mpg city/highway, 53 mpg combined. It’s not uncommon for Insights to go 600 miles between fill-ups.
We’re completely convinced that first gen Insights — not the more conventional looking current Insight, a Prius knock-off that has just been axed — is going to be a collector car in years to come. There are quite a few to choose from right here. Our advice is to pick one up before the cost is, er, out of sight.
For your viewing pleasure we offer an original U.S. Insight commercial from back in 1998 that co-stars an old VW Microbus. If you’ve got some time on your hands, watch this 13+ minute introductory film that, alas, is in Japanese but we think it’s inspiring, just the same. Domo arigato! / どうもありがとう
If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us: info (at) feralcars (dot)com. Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted