Introduction To Our Used 2001 Honda Insight Hybrid

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In the world of automotive journalism, "practice what you preach" is a difficult statement to honor. It just isn't always possible.

We do our best though, which is how I've come to be the proud owner of a 2001 Honda Insight.

Let me explain.

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Cars are rather expensive objects, so dropping cash on the latest electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, punchy diesel or any other shiny object of desire isn't always possible.

I can't even stretch to a Smart Electric Drive, so a Chevy Volt is certainly out of the question and the upcoming BMW i8 merely a pipe dream.

Instead, many of us spend our time trawling sales adverts for used vehicles, buying up cars a decade behind everyone else.

On the plus side, it does mean we get to test the sort of cars we know we may be able to buy in another ten or fifteen years. On the negative side, any such car will have had several previous abusers by that point and any hope of a warranty is long gone.

The back-story

I never had that benefit of foresight in 1999 when the original Honda Insight appeared, since I was only 14 years old; three years from learning to drive, a decade from becoming a motoring journalist. I do recall liking the car though, if more for its resemblance to the old Honda CRX than the cutting-edge technology within.

Few were ever sold in the UK, since even with a modest government grant each one cost £17,000, about $27,500 at the exchange rate of the time.

That's nearly $9,000 more than the car's base price in the U.S. Some things apparently never change...

Sales barely topped 250 units before it was dropped in 2005, and a great number of those still remain--around 220 or so. They don't come up for sale often as a result.

When they do, prices tend to be on the high side--typically three or four times what you might pay for a Civic of similar vintage.

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This is partly down to the cars' technology, and partly, I suspect, because there are always going to be enough people in the UK who still want a Mk1 Insight, so demand is always a little greater than supply.

But I managed to bag one not 20 miles from my house. I'll admit, its proximity played a big part in me deciding to view the car.

The previous owner, Simon, had replaced it with another, in the vivid citrus green of the car's early press materials and road tests. That meant little was wrong with the car he was selling--he simply wanted a change. And that's good news for a buyer like me.

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