Coast to Coast in Five Days (in a Suzuki Cappuccino): Part 1

If you’re a fan of our Project VehiCross, you might remember that around 2 years ago, we installed a towing hitch for the sole purpose of towing a 240SX to Kentucky to wrench on.  Well, two years after I towed it 600 miles, I loaded it onto a different trailer:  

Dave's Dead 240…Where it went off to a new owner.  After 10 years of fighting an uphill battle, I gave up on my dream toy and decided to move on.  This was a car that had been through two engines, three transmissions, two turbos, three ECUs, and god knows how many random parts.  I should have given up on it years ago to be honest, but I was way too determined to build my own Project Silvia and made some admittedly poor decisions because of that.  After spending 3 months getting the engine to run once more, it quit a week later and I gave up for good.  The new owner has made good progress on it (this is his 14th S-chassis) and I’m glad to see someone making actual headway on it.

Time for a new toy, right?  We had our eye on one particular car for a few months and after selling the 240, it was time to pull the trigger.  So, without further ado, meet MotoIQ’s first ever Kei car project:

Suzuki Cappuccino First LookHopefully, most of MotoIQ’s audience will recognize a genuine EA-11R Suzuki Cappuccino.  This particular car is a 1992 model, imported under the 25-year rule.  In fact, we picked this car up from our friends at Toprank Importers who had purchased this car in 2016.  It left Japan right around Christmas of 2016, landed on our shores a few months later, and went for sale in February 2017.  We finally made a deal for the car in April of 2018. Why did it take so long to sell this car? Well, a number of potential buyers were scared off by the black hood and trunk, fearing there was crash damage underneath.  This didn’t really bother us since this is going to be a weekend toy and not a Concourse winner. Personally, I prefer not having to be obsessed with keeping a car looking immaculate. This car had a good body, a complete interior, had minimal modifications and didn’t look horribly abused.  Exactly what we needed.

Ricer Cappuccino (Tacoma for Scale)
We actually started our search for Kei car glory with this car, which was located in Indianapolis making it close enough to test drive so we could find out important things like: How slow is a Cappuccino? How terrifying is it to drive on US roads? Do we even fit inside? While the Fast & Furious look actually did hold a bit of appeal to me, this car was a bit too beat up, so we passed on it. But it did confirm that we needed to have a Cappuccino in our lives.
Yellow Cappuccino
A little history to catch up those who are unfamiliar with the Cappuccino. The Kei car class in Japan is meant to be a very cheap but practical type of car for the Japanese market. They are displacement, horsepower, and size limited (660cc, 63 horsepower, and 11’ 2” x 4’ 10”) to allow for tax and insurance breaks in Japan. Originally meant to help the Japanese auto market recover after World War II, the class is still very popular for new car buyers, as well as those who live in very dense cities. In 1990, the current regulations were put in place (the Kei class has undergone two updates growing in size and power every few decades). Couple that with a booming bubble economy and a few OEMs decided to design Kei cars that were the last word on lightweight, low power fun.

3 comments

  1. Looks like a fun trip. I did a similar run from Denver to northern DE in my ’92 Cappuccino last year. A/C compressor may have been an overtemp safety; mine worked great up until rush hour traffic in St. Louis and an ambient temp of 105*+. We lost it for maybe 2 hours, but worked great the rest of the evening and the next day once temps got back down into the 80s-90s. Hopefully yours is a similar non-issue. Safe travels!

    If you are planning to replace the OEM wheels please let me know, I have been looking for a set.

    1. If you’re ever down in Kentucky, let me know! Always nice to meet another Capp owner. I was unaware of the overtemp function, but the A/C does have problems. I’ve tried it a few times and it isn’t blowing any cold air period. It is an old system, so I suspect all the freon has leaked out somewhere.

      As for the wheels, replacing the wheels and tires with something a bit wider is in my early plans. I want to install some performance tires and the OEM wheels are too skinny. The tires on it now are practically brand new so they’d be perfect for someone looking for an OE swap. I’ll get in touch with you about setting up a wheel trade or sale.

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