Sunday, August 28, 2016

Historically significant + beat to hell = HOOPTIE

Newer cars rarely make it onto this blog. For a car younger than 25 years old to be featured it has to be either historically significant, ultra rare, or truly beaten to within an inch of its life. Todays car qualifies for about 2.5 out of 3.
On one of the widest and most beautiful blocks of Park Slope I saw this little number standing out like a pimple on a prom queen.
What we have here is a 2000 Honda insight* in the oddly named color New Formula Red. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the first hybrid production car to hit the streets of America (beating the Prius by about half a year). You'd hardly know it was an innovator by looking into those hazy cataracts.
*The name is spelled with a lower case i that has a red dot on top. Since it's confusing to have a lower case name and I can't easily make the dot itself red I've gone with insight.
Not many were built overall even though it held the all time gas mileage record from its introduction in 1999 all the way through this year when the 2016 Toyota Prius Eco finally surpassed it. With it diminutive aerodynamic shape and gas/electric hybrid motor the Insight boasted 61mpg on the highway and 53mpg overall.
The body panels are largely made of plastic with an aluminum structure underneath. The gas tank is plastic and the spare tire mounted on an aluminum rim to further save weight. From the factory this thing checked in at a mere 1,850 lbs!
The realities of a fragile subcompact used on the city streets are very evident on this ride. The rear fender skirt is gone and there's a fat dent in front of the wheel well. With such an aerodynamic design I'm sure the missing fender skirts are affecting the efficiency a bit.
The insight is a true 2 seater with hints of the fantastic Honda CRX in its design. The rear panel is smoked glass to help with the blind spot behind the driver.
Say it loud Insight! History just might celebrate this model as a turning point in automotive history yet.
I like the fact that there's a reflection of an Acura smiling in the reflection. Honda produced Acura as a stand alone luxury division back in the '80s.
Another glimpse of the inner plastic workings of the insight.
2000 doesn't seem like a long time ago but there's that cassette player in the dash looking like a page from the history books. The fact that it's a manual transmission is sporty as the alternative was a CVT. CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission which uses a system of belts to seamlessly run through different gear ratios without actually having different gears. If it sounds like I just dropped that on the page without fully understanding it you are correct.
Here's that sweet sneaker styling in all its glory.
Oh yeah! When your body panels are plastic even small accidents can look tragic. Here we see the deep crevasse from a fender-bender. They got away somewhat easy this time as another few pounds of pressure probably would've shattered the front fender. I've seen plastic bodied cars that had been in moderate accidents driving by and they looked crazy with huge jagged open holes on the body!
Well that about does it for one of the youngest cars to ever grace the NYCHoopties blog. I almost walked by it before realizing what it was. As forgettable as it is now this may turn more heads as the years keep rolling by.
Imagine seeing one of these pull into a car show in the year 2050 (seems far away but that's the equivalent of seeing a car today from 1966). In this era of electric Teslas
 and driverless cars it's hard to tell what vehicles will look like 34 years from now. The Honda insight stands with one foot in the past and one in the future and for that it deserves to be noticed.

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