Coast to Coast in Five Days (in a Suzuki Cappuccino): Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of our epic Summer roadtrip!  If you missed Part 1, you can go read it here.  The quick and dirty summary is this: we sold our 240SX and decided to buy a Suzuki Cappuccino from Toprank Importers instead.  The car was out in California and was too skinny to fit onto a commercial transport meaning the only reasonable way of getting the car to Kentucky was to fly out, pick it up, and drive it 2400 miles over Independence day weekend.  We then had to head to Delaware for a family visit, leading us to drive clear across the US of A on the most Patriotic week known to the Yanks.  We left off ready to leave Albuquerque New Mexico and continue our eastward trek.

Cappuccino in a New Mexico farm
Overnight, we decided to change up our plans. Our original plan was to make it all the way to Little Rock, but based on our experience the day before, it was going to take us something like 17 hours. Eff that! We decided to split the drive in half and spend the night in Texas on Route 66. Abandoning the highway meant we could actually enjoy the Cappuccino in its natural environment (the back roads), and stop at some of the touristy parts of Route 66. After all, why road trip 66 if we’re just going to drive past everything we see?
Wigwam Motel
If you’ve seen the Pixar movie Cars, then you’ll recognize this motel. Pixar based some of their sets on actual Route 66 landmarks including the Wigwam Motel.  The Wigwam Motel is actually a chain of hotels and this particular one was located in Holbrook, AZ
Cappuccino on Route 66
Route 66 doesn’t really exist anymore. You can’t just select it as a route in your GPS. Following road signs for Historic Route 66 is a good start. There are a few apps to help you select waypoints and find landmarks. We used an app as well as the Historic Route 66 website to find our way.
Roof Repair
After 900 miles, we were forced to make our first true repair of the trip on the Cappuccino. The carbon fiber wrap is aftermarket, and some cheap chrome trim was used to secure the edges. That trim was starting to come off. While I don’t actually like the trim nor the wrap, I did not want a piece of trim flying off at speed and hitting another car. So a bit of electrical tape was used to secure the trim to keep that from happening. The wrap is actually functional: Suzuki provided three vinyl bags to store the roof panels in when they are locked into the trunk. Without the bags, the roof panels will scratch each other, ruining the paint or the simple vinyl headliner. This car came with the bags (something to look for if you’re a prospective Cappuccino buyer), but they’re a pain in the ass to use. Wrapping the roof also protects the paint and headliner from getting damage during storage, without resorting to the cumbersome bags. We’ll re-wrap it in the future, but for now a bit of tape keeps things in place.
Cappuccino Abandoned Santa Rosa Gas Station
This gas station in Santa Rosa, NM has been out of business for some time. Check out the prices though: if we could have filled up there it would have taken a paltry $7 to fill up the Cappuccino from empty…even with high octane!


  1. David, condolences to you and your family. Beautifully written tribute. Can’t wait to see how the project unfolds.

  2. Keep your political commentary to yourself. You can reminisce about old America without sharting your anti-Trump crap all over the page.

  3. My grandma lost her first husband. He, and his crew were the first casualties of the Cold War. He was shot down over the Baltic Sea. If he had not of died, I would not be alive. Strange how things happen, but that’s the way it works. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I’m replacing the Taco’s tires completely. The OEM tires are lukewarm garbage. How Toyota has the stones to put those on a TRD Off-Road is beyond me.

  4. Nice road trip, would have been a nicer article without bringing your political two cents into the mix. If those are the types of articles we can expect from Motoiq, I’m going to have to seek automotive articles from elsewhere. I prefer my passion for cars to remain free from politics, especially from people who would prefer to see the current administration fail than see America succeed.

    1. What do you mean? Do you want to know what the drivetrain is or are you looking for more of a review of how it drives?

      If it’s the former, it’s a 660cc 3-cylinder engine with a turbocharger. 5-speed manual transmission and RWD. This particular car also has an LSD (I believe the factory Quaife option though I haven’t confirmed it). The torque curve is between 3500 and 6500 RPM. Fuel cutoff is around 9,100 RPM. The turbo is pretty small and it’s really there for mid-range torque. We’re looking at a turbo upgrade to give it some more top-end.

      As for the drive itself, I think the best way of describing it is like a Miata but smaller. The engine makes the drive more frentic since you have to rev the nuts out of it to get any power, but the rest is very Miata like. Or if you’ve driven an MG Midget, it’s like driving a modified Midget. There’s a speed cutoff at 150 KPH (~80 mph) so you’re never really going all that fast, but it’s a blast. I would not recommend doing a long highway trip like I did if you don’t have to. I was commuting with it two to three times a week after I got it home and registered and I always take the back roads with it. It’s now packed up for the winter as it has zero salt protection and I do not want to be battling rust, but up until late October I was still driving it every few days.

        1. I drove it on a one-way dispatch. It was insured the whole way. Got a few looks, but never got pulled over.

          Also, a HUGE shout out to TopRank, getting it registered was super easy in Kentucky. They get all the right forms filled out so getting US title and tags is as painless as possible. Still took almost 3 hours, but it only took one trip to get a license plate.

          1. I am looking at importing one after the holidays, and trying to figure out logistics. Seems like I will need a boxed trailer or a flat bed to get it from the port. Besides the lack of AC, did it drive well on the highway otherwise?

      1. I’m with Ajmal Khan; I would like more info about the car, and less on the sight seeing. Insult to injury, you wound up in a late model truck. As someone who is interested in Cappys, I’m hungry to learn about the car on US roads. Is the ride harsh? What’s your assessment on interior room and ergonomics? Was it hard to transition to RHD and back? Any interactions with others about the car (other than the footprinted hood?)

        1. There’s more info on the road manners of it in Part 1, but to answer the direct questions here:

          How spacious the interior is really depends on how big you are. If you’re more than 5′ 10″ or 180 lbs it’ll be tight, but possible. And if you’re above 6′ tall or 200 lbs you’re just not going to fit period. The GAB coilovers are pretty stiff but if I avoided big potholes I was fine. The bucket seat has no padding either which didn’t help but surprisingly it wasn’t my back that gave me trouble. It was my legs. Trying to keep it at 70 with little room to keep the blood flowing in the right leg started to get really tiresome after about 3 hours on the road. It can do highway speeds just fine, but you’ll be near the factory limiter so you have to plan passes. Really the big problem is it takes a lot of concentration to highway drive it. You’re much, much smaller than everyone else out there so you really have to pay attention to what’s around you. You’ll want to stop pretty frequently to stretch your legs. Also the gas tank only takes you around 250 miles. You can only get so far with a 6.5 gallon tank!

          Aside from the size, the interior is really nicely laid out. Everything is in easy reach and is nicely arranged, though there’s nowhere to store a phone (kind of important when you’re using it for GPS. I usually wedge mine between the seat and console it I’m not wearing cargo shorts). If you pack a soft duffle bag it will fit into the trunk, but I had a work trip before my flight to CA I couldn’t pack as light as I would have liked.

          As for going between the Tacoma and the Cappuccino, the thing that always trips me up is the turn signals. The lever is on the right side of the steering wheel and it usually takes me a few miles to remember where they are. I got used to the left hand shifter pretty quickly. The nice thing about the car being so small is it’s really forgiving if it takes you a while to get used to sitting on the wrong side. It’s so narrow and short that you have a ton of space in parking spots or in your lane. The hardest part I found was parallel parking. You actually sit really far back in the wheelbase (your butt is only a foot ahead of the rear axle) so your perspective is really warped. It looks like you’re about to back into the car behind you but in reality you still have about 6′ of space.

          And finally aside from the jerks who stepped on the hood the response has been positive. Everybody likes this thing. Either people have no idea what it is and are really curious about it or they know exactly what it is and think it’s awesome to see it. I think it helps that there’s no image associated with the Cappuccino in the US so people don’t walk up with a preconceived image of the owner.

          By the way, one of the big advantages of the Cappuccino is that they were sold in the UK which means there’s an English factory service manual available from Suzuki. I’m not sure if that’s the case for some of the other popular Kei cars of this era. Also the UK is a great resource for parts and knowledge since they’re still very popular over there. I’m hoping I can figure out what US Suzuki parts fit the Cappuccino during my ownership.

          Also if you all are in the central Kentucky area and want to try and fit yourself in a Cappuccino let me know and we can arrange something. It wasn’t until I rode in one that I knew it was going to be right for me. I’ve already had a few locals try it out, so if you’d like to do the same, feel free to ask. Always happy to help fellow Cappuccino fans

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