In the last year I have been fortunate to cross two cars off my personal 'must see in the flesh' list. The first was at last years American Car Show when I saw Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird up close, and on the weekend I saw a first generation Honda Insight - in the local shopping centre carpark!
To say this car is rare would be an understatement. There are only two first generation Honda Insights on Canberra roads. Lets put this into perspective - there are more Phase 3 GTHO's in Canberra than Insights.
Outside of car shows I dont often get the chance to chat to owners of odd cars I see on the street. While i was shooting photos, the owner of the car approached me with a bag of groceries under her arm. She seemed pleased that someone was interested in her car and we had a brief chat.
'Fran' has owned the car since new, and has done around 180,000 kilometers in it. The longest trip she has undertaken in the Insight was a trip to the coast and back. That trip cost her $6 in fuel.
She loves her car, and was fascinated with the technology and the idea of owning a hybrid car. When she heard that Honda were selling them she started to make inquiries. New, the car was $36,000 dollars - but once dealers figured out she was serious - and could pay cash - they got into a downward bidding war. Fran ended up paying only $23,000 for the car - delivered to her door.
Hybrid cars are at an interesting point on the evolutionary scale. The early adopters are paying about triple the cost of the equivalent size small car, and are acing as a testbed for a whole raft of cutting edge technologies. While I dont think they are going to suddenly dislodge conventional petrol powered cars, they are slowly increasing their numbers - and influence. I hope that small pieces of history like this first generation Honda Insight are preserved, and the best way to reserve a car is to keep it running as a daily driver, well maintained and cared for.