After a multi-week discussion through phone and emails, we struck a deal on the Champagne and black Covefe and we waited for Toprank to ship the car to us. We expected it would take around 3 weeks (part of the deal was to replace the alternator, which was dead, and the timing belt, which was of unknown age): we were preparing for the Gambler 500 and the Indy 500 anyway, so we weren’t in a rush. So we waited a few weeks. We waited a few more weeks. After a month we had no car. A few missed calls went back and forth, and then finally Toprank explained why the car still hadn’t left Long Beach: It’s too skinny. It turns out that the Cappuccino’s track width is so narrow, and the wheel offset so far inboard, that the tires don’t really fit onto the ramps of most American trailers or transports. Standard trailers have ramps that are 42″ apart, and the Cappuccino’s track width is 47″. Unfortunately, the tires are only 6.5″ wide and with the +45mm wheel offset, you only end up with around 1.5″ of tire actually contacting the trailer ramp, nowhere near enough to safely haul the car 2,300 miles. That meant we either had to pay for an enclosed trailer (which was going to cost upwards of two grand!), or we had to fly out to LA, pick the car up, and drive it home ourselves.
The stars aligned for us: we had a work trip to Detroit right before a week-long factory shutdown. This meant we had an entire week to get our car home AND we could fly out of Detroit for cheaper airfare! So that’s what we did! Oh wait, there’s another wrinkle to this story: see my mother’s birthday was the same week and on pain of death, I needed to be home to spend it with her. Which meant we would drive the Cappuccino from California to Kentucky, then immediately drive to Delaware the very next day.
On paper this sounds pretty straightforward, right? Driving a car 3000 miles should be no problem. Well, first off, this particular Cappuccino hasn’t been road legal since 2013 (a fact we found in the importation documents). It had also been sitting on Toprank’s lot for over a year, hardly moving as it waited for a buyer to come along. Then there are the problems of driving a Kei car in the US: I’ve driven a right-hand drive car a few times, but never more than a few miles at a time. Plus, this thing is TINY and we have to weave in and out of big rigs, Explorers, and bro trucks for five days? Plus there’s no cruise control, no air conditioning, super hard Japanese coilovers, and a thin racing bucket for a seat, making for a cramped, uncomfortable drive. The lack of A/C is actually a big deal since we’re driving through the desert in the summer. Yes, we’re driving a convertible, but my pasty nerd ass and California sun do not mix. Even with lots of sunscreen and water, our roof-down excursions were going to have to be minimal (also remembering that with the roof stored, the trunk is completely full). And to make it that much harder, I did this trip 100% on my own. No camera crew. No co-pilot. Just one nerd and his weird little car.