2002 Honda Insight - Honda Tuning Magazine | Catalog-cars

2002 Honda Insight – Honda Tuning Magazine

28 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2002 Honda Insight – Honda Tuning Magazine
Honda Insight

2002 Honda Insight – The Frank-Insight

Go ahead, take another look at the photos, specifically the engine “bay,” then browse through the spec list and reread the title for the third or fourth time. Now, let’s get down to business here. First and foremost, putting a V-6 into an Insight is downright wacky.

Converting an Insight to rear-wheel drive is just crazy. Creating a one-off, mid-engine Insight is pure madness! At least that’s what I thought when I first laid eyes upon Mini Tec’s Frank-Insight build.

Little did I know, the build wasn’t even finished at that point; they had visions of a snarling turbo setup on the horizon.

Last summer, I’d come across Mini Tec’s website, superfastminis.com. while helping a friend research swap options for early model Minis. Clicking through the site, I found a massive inventory of Mini Tec custom-built components dedicated to making the art of swapping a VTEC powerplant into a Mini both safe and simple.

Front, rear, and all-wheel-drive conversion options are the norm at this shop, but I was quickly pulled away from any and all thoughts of Minis when I noticed the blue Insight you see pictured. A closer look revealed an Acura TL swap sitting in the chest cavity of the once anemic gas sipper, and I immediately sent an email to get more info on this one-of-a-kind build.

The first question is, of course, “How do you come up with something like this?”

Mini Tec states, “Approximately two years ago, a potential customer inquired of the feasibility of fitting the complete first-generation Insight Hybrid system into a Classic Mini. We were intrigued, so we acquired a wrecked 2000 Insight donor and began dismantling it. When we removed the battery pack, we discovered a considerable vacancy aft the seat area.

Previous experience with mid/rear engine cars gave us an idea. We’d been reading about J-series swaps in Honda Tuning, but considered the J too heavy and tall for the Mini. After some quick measurements, we knew the J had found a new home. Using information from Honda Tuning, forums, and Don at RPM Systems, we decided on a ’03 TL engine with a ’04 Accord V-6 tranny and stock TL ECU.”

In need of an actual car of their own for the transplant, the crew took to Craigslist and eventually came up with a salvage-titled ’02 with “minor flood damage.” Mini Tec adds, “The seller told us water only entered the floorboard area, and a quick inspection found no evidence otherwise. So for a mere $1,800, we brought the car back to the shop for disassembly.” Peeling back the layers, it was apparent that the Insight has been completely submerged in muddy water at some point as mud reared its ugly face on top of the headliner, hood insulation, and everywhere else. A complete teardown was in order before the fabrication magic began.

“We began by removing the battery floor area between the rear framerails along with the complete rear suspension. We then transferred it to the jig rack and located the engine/tranny by matching the intermediate shaft with the axle centerline, then centering and squaring it.”

Honda Insight

With the engine in place, the suspension was tackled (see sidebar), and the wiring nightmare that is almost customary with a once completely flooded vehicle began—and painfully carried on for quite some time. Having plenty of experience with Honda-based swaps, the shop found the engine and support wiring were child’s play. However, there were plenty of wiring roadblocks along the way.

Mini Tec states, “We had to replace wiper motors, window motors, all relays and fuses—even some switches. We learned a life lesson: never deal on a flood car! We spent as much time on the flood problems as we did on the swap!”

With the wiring mess a thing of the past, the TL Type S engine was fired up and the maiden voyage underway. The torque of the V-6 combined with the lightweight “slippery” chassis was incredible. Further testing revealed that with Mini Tec’s engine mounting and suspension strategies performing so well, even above the performance level of the TL swap, the chassis could indeed handle more.

Some back-and-forth conversations with Don of RPM Systems, and both parties agreed that a turbocharged V-6 would be the next step. A J35 Odyssey engine with a custom turbo kit overseen by an AEM EMS at just 8 pounds of boost belted out 400 rear wheel horsepower! At a svelte 2,200 pounds, the power-to-weight ratio is out of this world, and yes, they upgraded the factory brakes at all four corners.

Mini Tec says they’ve found a solid balance with the car and have a few more changes to make; namely a longer final drive, front caster adjustment, and some additional downforce. In the safety department, a new cage, harness, and proper seats will add some additional confidence when the hammer is dropped. We’ve seen a number of unique projects pass through the pages of Honda Tuning, many of which reside within the pages of this very issue, but few are as far outside the box as Mini Tec’s mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, turbo V-6 Frank-Insight!

Mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged 3.5L V-6 creature!

Honda Insight
Honda Insight
Honda Insight
Honda Insight
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