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Old 04-24-2009, 11:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What would you do to all-out modify (ecomod) a Honda Insight (gen 1)?

The question: if you had a first gen Honda Insight, what mods do you think you would actually do to it?


I was talking to Tim (Daox) today, and compulsive car shopper that he is, he told me about a gen 1 Insight he was looking at.

(Not the Insight Tim was looking at - this is the Insight RobertSmalls is restoring/modding)

(Not sure why there seem to be more than a couple of current Insight threads on EM lately... aside from the fact it was the pinnacle of efficient vehicles in North America, and maybe more of them are coming available as "project" cars.)

I told Tim I thought that because he's a tinkerer at heart, he'd eventually get bored of repeatedly punching out 100 mpg commutes in a bone stock Insight.

"What would you do to mod it," I asked. It would be tough to improve on the king of efficient late model cars. But that just makes it more of a challenge.

Any thoughts? We came up with a decent list for a hard-core ecomodder, but then I closed my IM window.

My opening thoughts were:
  • Mirror delete/relocation (to inside A pillar)
  • Rear wiper delete
  • Articulated front wheel skirts
  • Full belly pan (Tim says the stock one is OK, but could be better)
  • MPGuino (because SG doesn't do lean burn well, and you want a resettable fuel economy gauge)
  • 155/80/13's on VX rims with smooth wheel covers
We came up with a pile more than that. Want to flesh this out? I'll come back to this post and update the list.

Project MPGiata! Mods for getting 50+ MPG from a 1990 Miata
Honda mods: Ecomodding my $800 Honda Fit 5-speed beater
Mitsu mods: 70 MPG in my ecomodded, dirt cheap, 3-cylinder Mirage.
Ecodriving test: Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown

has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage
www.MetroMPG.com - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners
www.ForkenSwift.com - electric car conversion on a beer budget
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Blue - '93 Ford Tempo
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Being a flatlander, I'd decide if I wanted it primarily for in town use or out.

For in town, making it a plug-in might work out well.

For out, chucking all the electric stuff and going straight gas might work out well.

There's an Insight that looks just like the one in the pic at the local scrap yard right now. Yard owner talked me out of having interest in it though.
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Gap-filling tape, and other detailing, especially smoothing front and underside, and fairing around wheels.
Remove soundproofing and stereo; use noise-canceling headphones with MP3 players.
Proper ducting to the rad, with a variable opening to take advantage of cold days or fast speeds.
Use exhaust heat for absorbtion AC, if needed, or to replace generator.
Lightweight battery.
A tail extension or complete aero-trailer.
New, smaller engine from FIAT with variable valve timing.
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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CM400E - '81 Honda CM400E
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Its so true, I would get tired of only 100mpg.

Actuated grill block. Get that puppy warm fast, plus Cd reduction!

Of course block heater too. Prefferably a large one that could get it up to temp very quickly. 800W or so should do it.
Current project: A better alternator delete
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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CM400E - '81 Honda CM400E
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90 day: 49.53 mpg (US)

Daox's Insight - '00 Honda Insight
90 day: 64.33 mpg (US)

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Doh, almost forgot boat tail (and I just posted in Delta Flyer's boat tail thread too...).
Current project: A better alternator delete
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Seal up the radiator grille opening. Build smooth aluminium fenders and/or underbody trays and plumb coolant through them. Add coolant-to-frame heat exchangers.
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Come on! you KNOW you want to make a plug-in hybrid!

We could figure that out!

My YouTube Videos
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Old 04-25-2009, 12:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Just how all-out do you want to get? I've owned one for about 6 years, and have had some ideas over that time. The ones I've actually done have been fairly basic, due mostly to lack of time & skill. They include MIMA, radiator block (easy, just a piece of coroplast that slips between radiator & A/C), hot air intake, & removing the rear wiper - something that's not much use in Nevada.

Things beyond that which don't get into major structural mods would be more turbocharging, battery capacity & replacing most of the glass in rear hatch lid with carbon fiber.

If I had time and a crew of skilled body builders, I'd really like a different body, something like either the Aptera or (old-style) Lotus Europa. I'd like the current body better if it were several inches longer, lower, and narrower.

And one other not-an-ecomod thing: I'd really like some good door pockets.
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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If you wanted to leave the rational world,you could lose the windshield and A-pillars,re-configure for a $3,000 GTP full semi-circular windscreen and Lexan side windows.That alone would get you into sub Cd.20 territory.The articulated front wheel skirts and cleanup of the belly have been mentioned.Then if you could deal with parking,hang more tail on it.After that,you're looking at some sort of active suspension which could drop the car on the highway and add a bit of rake.Throw in articulated airdam at front, valance at rear,road-riding ablative wheel fairings,and your looking Cd0.14 maybe.Go to rear radiator,maybe Cd0.13 like a Probe-V.One-wheel tadpole trailer to complete tail for road trips only and maybe Cd0.10( HONDA Dream-2 Solar car).Then we'll have you fitted with a designer straight-jacket!
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Old 04-25-2009, 03:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As opposed to Frank, I would chuck anything having to do with gasoline and add more batteries and a larger electric motor. Toss on flush mount solar panels to help with HVAC duties.

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