The original Honda Insight came to the market at the turn of the millennium to accomplish a simple mission: give early-adopters in the market for a hybrid a sportier alternative to the first Toyota Prius. It was a humble, eco-friendly model, but one example has become a rebel.
A group of Georgia Tech University students that goes by the name Wreck Racing turned Honda’s first-ever hybrid into a mid-engined racing machine. Starting with a damaged Insight, they began the project by removing virtually every component that’s not needed to make the car move in order to shed weight. The entire front end was scrapped, as was most of the rear end and all of the glass.
It’s quicker to tell you what’s left inside than to list what was taken out. There’s an aftermarket steering wheel, a shift lever, a bucket seat, and an analog instrument cluster. Finally, the stock Insight’s gasoline-electric powertrain was plucked from the body and replaced with a flat-six engine donated by a Subaru SVX. The 3.3-liter produces 230 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque; in the early 1990s, the SVX coupe was the most powerful member of the Subaru lineup by a long shot.
Fitting a flat-six in the Insight’s tight engine bay proved overly challenging, so Wreck Racing moved the engine to the area right behind the driver’s seat. It spins the rear wheels through a stock, five-speed manual transmission that comes from either an Outback or an Impreza. The swap sounds awesome, and it is, but it completely threw off the Insight’s weight distribution by making the rear end very heavy and the front end really, really light.
Wreck Racing rebuilt the entire suspension system to make sure the car doesn’t end up with its underside facing the sky. The bits and pieces up front were sourced from a Ford Crown Victoria, the model that comprised the massive, boat-like taxis that used to be a dime a dozen in New York City. The finished product is a Frankenstein of a race car, but somehow it works — and we’re sure it’s even more fun that it looks.