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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

First, thanks for being here, I have learned much in reading in the last hour or so.

My name is Jeff, I'm a Honda enthusiast, I have had many in my life, enjoy buying older ones and repairing/driving for a few years....recent cars include 1980 Civic 5-spd, 98 Civic, 01 Prelude SH (current). Long story short in the last few weeks I've discovered the G1 Insight and drove one that a buddy has. What an amazing and unique car. For that alone, I now find myself endlessly browsing the ads to purchase one. The shifter, the steering wheel, the turning radius...how did I miss this all my life?

I found a great 5spd silver 118k one for $4500 locally, but it sold. Don't know that I wanted to pay that much though. But it was super nice.

I found a 1-owner 5spd silver 205k for $2400 a few hours away. Not sure about the battery status, but it is in pretty great shape. I'm assuming IMA is on the way out at this point. But it has been maintained and is pretty clean. Seller will do $2400.

Now, I need you to convince me that this is too much to pay for this car (assuming it's clean/runs well enough) and that I should stay away from 1G Insights. Bottom line, if this was like a Prelude or Civic and I could keep it running well with my journeyman-level skills, I'd move on it. But if it's an albatross (as I am reading some believe this) I need to steer far far away. But my love for weird unique cars like this is getting the best of me.

I did read up on the "shoppers tips" thread and all that...great stuff!!! I am fairly intuitive when it comes to cars but this is out of my league, don't want to be surprised.

You have your work cut out for you. Please reply!!!

Here's the ad:

 

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I feel your plight. I fell in love well before I found mine. I now have three. You can find them cheap. I paid 1100 for one that had 113k miles but needed brake lines. Took months to find it and then another month before I got a response. I still haven’t fixed it. Why? I found another in perfect shape with new tires and alpine for 350 with 180k miles. Drove for over a year. Overheated. Still runs but needs an ima and rear shocks. I saved a stupid amount of money in one year over my rotrex rsx gas. Even stick BOM I had. This latest, brother picked up, I need to fly in and drive back. Was free. Key was perfect. Trust me. If they want to sell it it’s because they don’t want to invest. I’d spend more for one that doesn’t have any issues or lto swap one for cheaper. If well maintained I saw more than a few 400k miles and one with over 700k miles. Be patient young padawon, they are awesome, you will find one that works for you. Look for corrosion underneath first.
 

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Do it. There is literally nothing unique or difficult to maintain about the insight other than the IMA system, and all that basically needs is a grid charger and a deep discharge 1-2x a year. My battery has been garbage for years but following the deep discharge instructions on these forums brought it back to life and I have no plans on replacing it until it literally does not work anymore. My insight has been my daily and has easily been the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned, and I've owned a fair amount of Hondas.
 

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You sound like an ideal Insight owner... you appreciate unique vehicles and have basic mechanical skills

2/3 of the car is a typical Honda (or even better) and easy enough for a home mechanic to maintain and repair.

The 1/3 that’s completely different is the battery & IMA system. But it’s actually pretty simple and not much gives trouble beyond the battery. Maintaining the battery isn’t hard if you’re willing to tinker. You can build your own charger/discharger for less than $100, or purchase a commercial one.

As far as cost... it’s possible to luck into cars for $1000 or less that are fine-ish. (I paid $500 for mine a year ago with 248k miles and have put over 12,000 miles on it with only basic maintenance and two battery refreshes.) But for a well-maintained example with lower miles, the value is whatever you’re willing to pay. I see very nice cars for $4500 or less pretty often.

Enjoy!

- Park
 

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1st gear to 2nd gear is a 50% rpm drop in a manual first gen insight.

IMA battery is only as good as a valid warranty.

People will pass you constantly only to have you catch up at the light.
 

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What all of these guys said. I drive a smallish 50 miles one way to work. You learn how to drive quick going slower. You start looking well ahead at traffic pattern. People who have a heavy foot and lane change often I find them 95 percent of the time behind me. The other five percent may be because they exit? You definitely consider appropriate use of throttle and in heavy traffic get astounding mpg as a result. You are going to love this much more than any other car. I have an RSX type S with Rotrex 38-91 with over 400hp accurately tuned at 388.5whp. Car is fast. Seriously fast. It’s been in the garage collecting dust the last two years. I’m not even excited to drive it anymore.


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Discussion Starter #8
Wow, what a great response. Thanks so much to all.

So the issue isn't the whole driving thing...my 1980 Civic which I sold about 4 years ago was my favorite car I've ever owned, it was so slow but so fun. So that's not my issue.

My issue is, is this car (assuming it's clean/has no big issues) worth $2400. That's what I need you guys to comment on the most. I hear about people getting them for $1000 but I'm particular about condition. Mileage doesn't scare me, I'd rather have a car that is clean and not beat with a lot of miles than a low mileage car that's beat. So if this one is truly a clean one-owner with only minor blemishes, and runs well enough, is it worth $2400 (in Honda Insight economics) with the 205k or am I getting ripped off?
 

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It is a pretty
My issue is, is this car (assuming it's clean/has no big issues) worth $2400. That's what I need you guys to comment on the most. I hear about people getting them for $1000 but I'm particular about condition. Mileage doesn't scare me, I'd rather have a car that is clean and not beat with a lot of miles than a low mileage car that's beat. So if this one is truly a clean one-owner with only minor blemishes, and runs well enough, is it worth $2400 (in Honda Insight economics) with the 205k or am I getting ripped off?
Gen1 Insights are what is referred to as a "thin" market. The normal rules don't apply as with many other cars. They have a large fanatical geeky ownership segment as well as a "cheap" segment. You have to first decide which segment you are in. It sounds like the former.

I looked at the car ad. It looks like a nice example and the new transmission likely makes the price fair, IMO. Things I can't tell from the ad, and which would best be checked in person; the paint scrapes on the passenger door, condition of the carpet under that rubber mat, condition of the driver's seat bolster, and serviceability of the battery. Fact the battery wasn't mentioned probably means that it has some years on it. That could make a $2400 car into a $4800 car overnight - so worth a test drive.

You aren't all that far from the car (yes, moderators can tell) and it would make an interesting day trip, so I'd just drive over and look at it first hand. You would be able to answer some of the open questions:)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Gen1 Insights are what is referred to as a "thin" market. The normal rules don't apply as with many other cars. They have a large fanatical geeky ownership segment as well as a "cheap" segment. You have to first decide which segment you are in. It sounds like the former.

I looked at the car ad. It looks like a nice example and the new transmission likely makes the price fair, IMO. Things I can't tell from the ad, and which would best be checked in person; the paint scrapes on the passenger door, condition of the carpet under that rubber mat, condition of the driver's seat bolster, and serviceability of the battery. Fact the battery wasn't mentioned probably means that it has some years on it. That could make a $2400 car into a $4800 car overnight - so worth a test drive.
That's really good language - "thin" market - and definitely what I've discovered. Lots of $4000 ones for sale, lots of $1000 ones for sale, and a few between. I'm definitely the guy who will pay a bit more for a nicer one, but I wasn't ready to pull the trigger on the $4500 one I described in the first post. $2500 or so feels like the right amount to spend on one of these.

So your comment about the battery making the car double in cost overnight - that's what I'm worried about here, that's what is uncharted territory for me. I have enough basic tools and know-how to do most beginner or intermediate services on cars. So the battery stuff is possible to do myself, though I don't want to get into something that requires super advanced wizardry. How do you reconcile your statement about doubling the cost with what was said below (quoted)? ZE1 makes it seem like a bad battery isn't a big deal...

Do it. There is literally nothing unique or difficult to maintain about the insight other than the IMA system, and all that basically needs is a grid charger and a deep discharge 1-2x a year. My battery has been garbage for years but following the deep discharge instructions on these forums brought it back to life and I have no plans on replacing it until it literally does not work anymore. My insight has been my daily and has easily been the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned, and I've owned a fair amount of Hondas.
 

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IMO the cars are old enough that regardless of how much you pay, you can expect a trickle of ongoing expenses to keep the car going and reliable. I spent about $600 in the few months after I bought mine to fix things and do preventative maintenance to get it up to snuff as a daily driver. Nothing I have done on it was difficult work or very expensive on its own, but it adds up.

Unless you buy one with a well-known history that's really been gone over well and impeccably maintained, budget ~$500 for maintenance and repairs and add that to the purchase price. I only paid $600 for my car, so spending some money on it was a non-issue for me. If I'd paid $3000 for the car, I'm not sure if I'd be as stoked on spending that same amount right out of the gate.

The book value on these cars is low or non-existent depending on where you look, so deals do pop up. If people don't know much about these cars, they see an IMA light on, look at the price of a new hybrid battery, and often assume the car is pretty much worthless and price it accordingly. If you read up on the common issues, you will know what to look for and what you feel comfortable fixing. Mine had an exhaust leak, O2 sensor issues, and battery issues - all stuff I felt confident I could tinker with.
 

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Yes, keep looking. You will find them. Natalya had contact with an owner that had two for sale in Atlanta area, if you’re willing to travel because far and few between. I would definitely look for cheaper if ima is bad. But at this age all are not far from ima replacement. Good LTO project and you can drive ima’less so there is that.
If rear underside is rusty, especially brake lines, then know that those are not a simple replacement unless you reroute lines. As for myself, this is why my blue is still waiting. I’d rather spend money on something that’s all there because rust sucks. If you see a lot of rust in bay and under rear I’d pass. If it’s clean and you have cash offer 2k and be happy.

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Yes, keep looking. You will find them. Natalya had contact with an owner that had two for sale in Atlanta area, if you’re willing to travel because far and few between. I would definitely look for cheaper if ima is bad. But at this age all are not far from ima replacement. Good LTO project and you can drive ima’less so there is that.
If rear underside is rusty, especially brake lines, then know that those are not a simple replacement unless you reroute lines. As for myself, this is why my blue is still waiting. I’d rather spend money on something that’s all there because rust sucks. If you see a lot of rust in bay and under rear I’d pass. If it’s clean and you have cash offer 2k and be happy.

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I saw a citrus one for sale in Atlanta a few weeks ago. That is only a couple hours away and I’d prefer to buy from a forum contact. Does anyone have an email or phone number for this member @Natalya you are talking about?
 

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She is a regular contributor and reader. You can send her a "conversation." Click your avatar at top right. You will see the conversation tab.
 

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She is a regular contributor and reader. You can send her a "conversation." Click your avatar at top right. You will see the conversation tab.
Ok thanks, I messaged her, we will see what might be available. I was going to North Atlanta anyway to look at the one I linked above so this is very doable. Getting excited...

Just for fun here's my G5 Prelude with my G6 Civic in the background (yes those are G7 Civic hybrid wheels):

 

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How do you reconcile your statement about doubling the cost with what was said below (quoted)? ZE1 makes it seem like a bad battery isn't a big deal...
We just disagree - humans do you know. Some efforts to recondition batteries with grid chargers work and some don't. The effort is unpredictable until it is tried.

The double statement goes like this: the car price is $2500 - the price of a 5 year warranty BumbleBee is approximately the same. That's my math;)
 

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She mentioned a few and I was going to fly down but the coronavirus thing hit. Godspeed. I’m sure she will hook you up. There was a citrus I’d have bought a few months ago from her without question but someone else snapped it up. I should have bought that one Eric had for sale. The guy that picked it stripped and then wanted to sell the shell for 3k. Now I think he wants 5k but it’s still not complete.


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She mentioned a few and I was going to fly down but the coronavirus thing hit. Godspeed. I’m sure she will hook you up. There was a citrus I’d have bought a few months ago from her without question but someone else snapped it up. I should have bought that one Eric had for sale. The guy that picked it stripped and then wanted to sell the shell for 3k. Now I think he wants 5k but it’s still not complete.


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My buddy who let me drive his would kill a kitten for a citrus one. He’s got a bid on one in Florida on eBay right now. They seem to be the unicorn.

Thank you all for you replies, this is very helpful.
 

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Reading your original post and then your following replies, I'm kind of confused as to why you need to be convinced NOT to buy one. Sounds like you're just afraid it will end up being a money pit and that you pay too much, but otherwise it sounds like you really want one.

$2400 for a 204k mile Insight would be a very fair price if it's in good condition - clean, no body damage, no scuzzy interior, average IMA pack (meaning probably needing attention, but will work with some tending), etc. It would be too much if it shows the obvious signs of a neglectful owner... I see lower mileage vehicles for sale around that price, but it's hard to say whether they end up being any better, unless one actually checks them out...

My guess is that you could find a real good Insight at around $3000, 150k miles, if you just stuck to the search for a while. But how much it ends up being better than that proverbial $2400 204k mile car - who knows.

In general, you can easily put another 80k relatively inexpensive trouble-free miles on a 150k mile car. I think that becomes quite a bit more difficult on a 204k mile car. But there's a sliding scale here based on how well the car's been treated, and you just need to check them out to figure out which is which.

If I were you I'd plan on spending some time finding the right one - go test drive/check out at least a couple before you actually buy one. Either that or plan on just buying one now, soon, getting to know it, and potentially buying a better one later.
 

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I saw a citrus one for sale in Atlanta a few weeks ago. That is only a couple hours away and I’d prefer to buy from a forum contact. Does anyone have an email or phone number for this member @Natalya you are talking about?
This car is no longer available.

Sam
 
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