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Hagerty Employee

Madman Michigander builds go-kart-powered Honda Insight | Hagerty Media

When Honda introduced the hybrid Insight at the turn of the millennium, it was an answer to a call for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Despite its outwardly modest appearance, however, the Insight was very advanced.

It would be sacrilege, but I would swap in a lawnmower engine into either an original Mini or Fiat 500. If were feeling particularly heretical, I could see the same thing in a Messerschmidt Kabinenroller. Although, if the 400 cc Harbor Freight engine may approach the originally installed motor...

I should have put a big-block hemi lawnmower engine (420 ccs!), or maybe a VW Super Beetle engine, into my 1990 911 when its engine gave up instead of just giving it to my mechanic in disgust. 


I would like to put the big V twin Harbor Freight engine in a King Midget just to see how fast it would go!
Intermediate Driver

The set up, sounds and acceleration is similar to my '63 King Midget with a 9 h.p. Wisconsin motor in it. Last week seen a restored King Midget bring 15k on BAT. What would this thing bring now? restore a KM..
New Driver

I have the perfect engine....a Fiat 850cc 4 cylinder with transaxle! Bet it would get the job done!

Hey! That top speed is about the same as my Econoline!
Intermediate Driver

There are prototype shops in outdoor power equipment manufacturers (ie: lawn care, ATVs, utility vehicles) that would perhaps be interested in this inventor's ingenuity. He thinks out of the box. Outstanding problem solving and mechanical skills!
Intermediate Driver

Alternatively, you could swap in one of several flat-twin half-liter engines that were used in lightweight cars of yore, from a Citroen 2CV, or a BMW Isetta, or a Panhard Dyna...

Put one in a Tesla! Those things deserve it!

Coulda put a Lycoming 0-540 in it and had some fun...

So what happened to the Hybrid drive? What kind of mileage does it get?

If I was going to go kart engine a car it would probably be a BMW Isetta or maybe a Porsche 914 because why not?
Intermediate Driver

I think a Ford 260 or 289 is a better way to go. Tub the rear and get some big tires on the rear.
Intermediate Driver

Making a car go slower just isn't in my genes. I'd keep the car all Honda and go with a straight six from the CBX, or the flat six from one of the touring bikes. I believe the motor from the CBX would fit better, and give the little s**tbox some serious scoot.
Intermediate Driver

Actually a very well-made car, popular with both drags and Land Speed guys. Stock car was built in same factory as NSX, race cars stay under 2K lbs, best Aero of any ICE car ever built, .24. Just needs lots of reinforcement, orig eng combo like 70hp w/o Batt. First year car (2000) ungoverned, did 118mph.
Intermediate Driver

Ps, Original Michigan Madman was E J Potter...
Ironically put big engines on Bikes,

I had an '04 and really enjoyed it. Comfy, terrific handling and peppy enough when I laid into it. 80+ MPG while drafting trucks, and capable of 100 MPH on its own on level ground. Bonus: no back seat so there was never room for wife's kids. Driving it without one fender skirt cost almost 10% off MPG so I learned then aerodynamics were serious. Lost it to her in the divorce....

Fascinating project and a perfect example that often the journey is everything, because the destination is just plain not worth it. Even if you absolutely love the monotonous sound of engine exhaust, there is absolutely no way to even tolerate the sound of a rusted out 1984 mini van hitting one 1.5 cylinders which this project has so accurately duplicated. The engine, the fuel tank, the exhaust all work together to invalidate this as a worthy project, however, make this an electric motor conversion or even an engine worthy I am very interested. As it stands $99 is way too much.
Advanced Driver

This is one of those cars that's crying out for a small block Chevy, and rear wheel drive.

I did a study once, back when I was on a GM project, t convert the GM EV-1 to a Chevy engine, rear wheel drive. Eliminating the batteries and replacing them with the Chevy drivetrain actually saved some weight. It could have been quite the halo car for GM, but that was a time when GM was running out of money and courage.

When I was young ad stupid, I replaced the 2 cylinder, 425 cc engine in my 2CV with an 1100cc, 4 cylinder engine from a Citroen Ami. Not too long afterward, I managed to twist the 2CV driveshaft right in half. The 2CV had inboard brakes, so most of the braking power was also lost.

Malcolm Bricklin turned Subaru 360s into go-karts. This guy turned a go-kart in an Insight. Circle of Life, baby.
Advanced Driver

A slightly older, say 1980's, Harley Big Twin would do the trick at 1340 cc's (80 C.I.D.). They run great and you could possibly rustle up one fairly cheap? They made a **bleep**load of them. Just need a decent, reliable cooling fan system worked out. Customize the existing primary chain drive system?
Advanced Driver

Clever guy. My 2001 MT Insight has averaged 54.9 mpg over 241k, and isn’t really that slow.... and pretty fun to drive! Jue Motors in Covina, Ca. is the Mecca of First Gen Insights; They know these winsome delights inside and out. They have many YouTube vids about keeping these on the road.