Home    Feedback

3/20/00: JPL rocket scientist trades 296 HP for 73, still achieves orbit


My name is Robert Nowicki. I live in Pasadena, Ca. and work as a computer programmer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. I have also been following the Insight story for a long time now. I was, and still am, amazed at the technology that allows the Insight to do what it does. I follow technology development pretty closely, and do it at work too.

When I first saw a picture of the Insight I remember thinking, "Oh my gosh, it looks horrible." I thought that Honda really blew it with the design. After a while though, it started to grow on me.

With my current car being an Infinity Q45 that has 296 HP, I wasn't sure what it would be like to let go of all that horsepower. I started calling all the local dealers around the supposed December launch date. Nobody ever had one. I was almost going to order it blind, without having even sat in it, but I am 6'5" tall and I wasn't sure if I would even fit in it. They had one at the L.A. auto show, but they wouldn't let me sit in it! I tend to be very impulsive when it comes to cars. So I attempted to forget about the Insight and be happy with my Q45. Then I discovered your web site and started checking it every day to see how you and everyone else were doing. I was getting spun up again.

[Glad my site helped get you back into orbit--InsightMan.]

I asked on the JPL newsgroup if anyone had one so that I could see if I fit in it or not. A guy e-mailed me back and told me that the Reseda Honda dealer had one in the showroom. I called them and sure enough they had one!!! I went the next day after work and looked at it. I arrived too late to go for a drive. Not only did I fit inside, but there was more room than my Q45! I couldn't believe it. I came back the next day and had the salesman take me for a drive, as I did not know how to drive a stick shift. The acceleration was great. There was nothing lacking.

I decided to buy it right then and there. I went in the following Saturday and picked up Silver Insight #260. My girlfriend Pamela drove it to the JPL parking lot, where she spent the afternoon teaching me to drive a stick shift. I was quite scared at first and was wondering if I had made a mistake. Everyone told me that I would get the hang of it after a couple weeks. Well, today is my one month anniversary of the purchase, and I am getting quite good with the stick.

The only unfortunate thing is that my engine started dying (not the auto-stop feature) when I came to a stop! The dealer sent it to American Honda in Torrance where they replaced my motor control module. It has been fine ever since. It made me wonder if I should get the extended warranty to 100,000 miles. What do you think, it's $950?

[I've had such good luck with all my Hondas that I'm willing to risk not buying the extended warranty.  It's value would depend on how much of the Insight is covered in the fine print. Is it a Honda extended warranty or a warranty from a third party? I guess there are probably quite a few parts that could easily cost $950 to replace, so it might make very good sense to buy the warranty if they're covered in the contract--InsightMan.]

I commute only about 8 miles to work, mostly freeway. It has been a dream so far. When I drive it into work, all the rocket scientists gather around and I invariably start answering questions and giving test drives. I could have sold 3 or 4 Insights by now. My main long drive is from Pasadena to Las Vegas. I can hardly wait to see how it goes.

Robert the rocket scientist
rmnowick @pacbell.net
[note: remove anti-spam space before @ to use this address]

[Robert, as a long-time follower of JPL projects, I'm honored to receive your e-mail and learn that you feel the same way about this car as I do! You certainly took the bull by the horns when you purchased a car that you couldn't drive. Pamela sounds like a great girlfriend to have, I hope you let her take the Insight from time-to-time, she deserves it. I'm very surprised to learn that your Insight provides more room for a 6'5" person than an Infinity Q45. By the way, I own all the Hot Wheels models of JPL projects. Now, if I could just find a Hot Wheels model of the Insight--InsightMan.]