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Welp, I went and did a thing...


...and now it would appear that someday later this fall a long-term dream will come true!

I've loved Bubble-era small-displacement Japanese vehicles since, well...the Bubble era. I remember poring over the reports from Japan in my dad's Road & Track magazines while in high school, and even being so entranced with the story on kei-class sports cars that I went to the public library months later to find a copy on microfiche and paid to print it off for 'future reference!' laugh

Fast-forward to the present day and I've always favored the light and nimble over the big and powerful, and much of my vehicle ownership has been various period sub-2-liter American-market versions of Japanese cars, including my AE86 obsession. My bikes reflect this as well, with a 1991 Suzuki Bandit GSF400 (since sold) and a couple of my current bikes, a JDM 1992 Suzuki Goose 350, and a JDM 1989 Suzuki GSXR250 (bought from the same importer as the Cappuccino) and you can see that this Suzuki is firmly in my wheelhouse. The 1995 date is getting towards the end of the era that really grabs me, but the EA21R version of the Cappuccino comes with some nice upgrades over the early EA11R version.

The importer is a pleasure to work with (as always) and we came to a good agreement for a pre-purchase as-is (the car is still in Japan sight-unseen.)  ~70,000 miles, and looks to be mostly stock in the photos except the steering wheel. The importer reports that it should be a good driver-condition, but certainly not a show-car, which suits me just fine.

I've been going nuts with my bikes of lately as that is where much of my truest passions lie, and have been somewhat stagnant on the car front, but I still really enjoy four wheels. I've been wanting a simple-ish project that will be good for Sunday backroads cruises, Cars N Coffee now and again, and perhaps a not-serious autocross/trackday/TSD rally every once in a while. I love my FR-S daily driver/occasional trackday car and don't want to modify it further. I've been seriously stalled on my 95% complete resto-mod AE86 project, and can't seem to get going on finishing it. The trouble is if I keep it civilized, the AE86 won't eclipse the FR-S as either a street car or a dual-duty street/occasional motorsports car. If I push it away from street-friendly towards track use, I'm getting out of the age range to live with a bare-bones, hardcore, pure performance build when not on track, so it has ended up in a bit of a no-man's-land. I live in a high rise downtown and can't buy/insure/park a truck and trailer, so my fun stuff has to remain streetable.

In the meantime I have idle daydreams about taking on a project car that is light and nimble, but a little older and slower, and still super-engaging to drive, so I can enjoy on the street...but then I get daunted by a full-on restoration a lot of these little old roadsters and sports cars will need. And I don't want to put in the effort to build a Locost or pay for a turn-key vintage sports car. And I don't want to undo all the tuning and performance bits on my AE86. Enter the Cappuccino!

There are a few questions still up in the air:

-Shipment dates; shooting for September to make sure it is legal when it arrives (Sep '95 car)

-Exact details of the condition

-Cramming my 6'1-1/2" middle-age-build body into the car, but cautiously optimistic on this front.

Stay tuned for updates; but there might not be much news for a bit until it ships.


Chris_B5 New Reader
7/28/20 7:56 a.m.

These cars are too cool! Can't wait to see more pictures when it arrives.

oldeskewltoy UberDork
7/28/20 8:46 a.m.


Kenny_S2K New Reader
7/28/20 1:45 p.m.

Awesome!  I think that makes 3 of us here with a Cappuccino!

ebelements Reader
7/28/20 2:25 p.m.

Congrats, looks like a clean example!

Super interested to follow along your ownership journey as I'm looking to do the same in a year or two... I just worry that at 6'4", Kei car dreams are just that... dreams.

Soooo excited! Got news that she'll be sailing on a container ship that just docked in Fukuoka (Hakata if'n you want to get pedantic) and scheduled to arrive in Seattle on the 17th of September. I gather that paperwork and customs might take a day or three, but still excited. laugh

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/5/20 10:02 a.m.

Totally jelly. 

Not much to report yet, but I have been stalking the container ship on the internet (currently just off the coast of Japan) and heading down the dangerous path of reading about tuning before I even have the car. 

My plan is to check over and assess the car, deal with any red flags, get it registered somehow and then drive for a while before doing anything beyond maintenance and cosmetic work. Many owners seem to report that they are a joy stock, and that poorly-planned or poorly-executed tuning actually makes them worse to drive. I've been down that road before with other vehicles, so planning to take it real easy with this one until I determine a genuine need/lack in the car for the way I use it before modifying.


Minor update. It isn't in my hands yet, but it is in a container at the port in Seattle!!! I'm killing time until it is unloaded and out of customs by dreaming about aftermarket wheels and the most subtle of ducktail trunklid spoilers. The stock wheels seem to be really lightweight, and I don't want to add unsprung weight, which might require something forged like Volks, and therefore more than I want to spend on wheels at the moment. If anyone is selling some ultralight 4x114.3 14x6 with +35 or +38 offset, I'm all ears.

Inspiration...it really helps the 90's jelly-bean ass end IMO. Just ignore the silly aftermarket taillights.


Teaser from the importer. Trying not to go nuts while waiting; probably driving up there Monday the 19th to retrieve it!

Oh yeah, BTW...anyone interested in a rather-modified, mostly-but-not-totally-done built AE86 hatchback that is potentially for sale? laugh

clutchsmoke UltraDork
10/10/20 8:09 a.m.

In reply to ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) :

*Hesitantly raises hand*

In reply to clutchsmoke :

Here's the rough outline, lots more detail available via PM if you want...I've owned this car for almost 20 years:

1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S hatchback with 160,000ish miles. Non-sunroof car (headroom!!) with just two coin-sized (treated and painted) rust spots on the rear tail panel, otherwise rust free! Built 4A-GE 16V with pistons, cams, ITBs, headwork, lightened, blueprinted, balanced, MS3Pro, with around 2000 miles on the bottom end and a few dozen miles on the top end, pumps, belts, sensors, injectors, plugs, alternator, aluminum radiator, oil cooler, etc. The MS3 tune starts hot or cold, idles fairly well, and I would rate it 8/10 for driveability. It hasn't been to the dyno but is fairly healthy for a normally-aspirated 16V. devil There is an opportunity for the new owner to refine it and probably squeeze some more out of the tune. It needs the plenum/air filtration finished, and the harness is rough loomed, but could still use a wrap. The tach has been intermittent and isn't working right now; I've been playing with different tach adapters. I'm currently working on a catch can mount, and I'm sure there are a few other details like this that are OK for a short test drive, but need finishing before regular use.

Toyota Altezza six-speed manual transmission, carbon-fiber one-piece driveshaft installed a few dozen miles ago. Clutch disc/PP/master and slave/throwout and release/lightweight flywheel done at the same time.

TRD Japan/Battleversion/K1 suspension is a few thousand miles old...lowered, stiffened, adjustable, wide front track, etc. I could write several paragraphs about the suspension, but I'll just say that I took great care to amplify the stock characteristics while increasing performance. Homebuilt big-brake kit up front, aluminum hat with Wilwood calipers and rotors...rebuilt OE rear calipers and new slotted rear rotors-several dozen miles old. Good original 4.3 final drive and differential. Many of the parts that can be unbolted from the bottom of the car (crossmembers, tension-rod mounts, swaybars, end links, brackets, etc) have been blasted and powdercoated chassis black.

15x7 Hayashi mesh wheels with older BFG G-Force tires. Interior half-finished with restoration, comes with new seat backs and I have pristine front seats available for extra. The console, dash, carpet, seat bottoms are great, the tops of the rear seats are cracked and torn. Front seats are worn in spots and patched. Two sets of door cards currently removed ready for refurbishment included. Badly cracked windshield, but new heated glass plus all new OE exterior trim and hardware included...currently stipped back and ready for glass removal. Correct Toyota JDM zenki bumpers and brackets, TRD Japan fiberglass hatch and glassed-in spoiler. East Bear aero fiberglass mirrors, carbon-fiber JDM window visors. The exterior is a little scruffy with minor door dings and scrapes, original red (black hood) paint has clear-coat issues and sunfading, and some so-so touch up. A few trim bits and new correct door decals (high quality reproductions) included, so it could really shine with a tiny bit of filler and a paint job.

I meant to write 3-4 lines and I've written quite a bit; I guess my passion for the AE86 is showing. blush Car is located in Portland, OR with clean title and current OR collector car registration. Asking $10k for the car as above. I have some extras available for extra.

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/12/20 5:18 p.m.

Rad! I love those little kei sports cars! I'll be sure to wave down from my huge Miata if I see you around town. 

malibuguy GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/12/20 5:41 p.m.

Id love to make some parts for them


malibuguy said:

Id love to make some parts for them


Parts for the Cappuccino? Exhaust/header/turbo parts? Very interesting....I may be in touch...laugh

Helped with some maintenance and upgrades to my shopmate's trailer in preparation for driving up to Seattle tomorrow to get the Cappuccino. Should be a fun adventure...just hoping I can get some sleep tonight!

CyberEric Dork
10/19/20 3:03 p.m.


Let us know how you fit in it! 

Picked it up this week, and I'm super excited! There's been lots of activity already, I'll have to post more details later.

The brief highlights:

It is super fun to drive. Proverbial go-kart for the street!

The brakes held for my test drive, but went soft while loading it onto the trailer. Got her loaded and found brake fluid dripping from the left rear hard line! 

The AE86 is pending sale to a great home!

I fit pretty well...I might remove the dead pedal. I've got a couple inches of headroom with the roof up. It looks to me like there is physical space for the seat to move back another inch or two with some customization. It is roomier than an original Lotus 7, but perhaps a bit more snug (certainly in width) than a first-gen Miata.

Ill add more details later.

First sight at the importer.

Loaded up; we certainly had plenty of room on the trailer! My shopmate on the left, the importer on the right.

Back in Portland.

Wasn't hard to squeeze between my shopmate's cars!

In reply to CyberEric :

I took a few pictures that might help illustrate. I'm just shy of 6'2" and fairly long legs ~35 inch inseam. Depending on my current balance of bicycling to beer drinking, I'm 225ish pounds. A teenage me developed a certain comfort with a knees-up, splay-footed driving position thanks to the Alfetta GT my dad had at the time.

Not sure how it would be in a helmet, but headroom certainly could be worse with the hardtop on!

Here's how my legs end up with feet touching the dead pedal and the throttle, but just barely resting, i.e. 0% throttle. Not great, not terrible...my legs clear the steering wheel, knees close to the bottom of the dash but not touching:

Left leg on clutch all the way in:

Left leg on the aftermarket dead pedal...waaay too high. Moving or removing this is on the short list:

The cozy kind of snug, not the claustrophobic kind of snug:


Parts have started trickling in as well! I got my shifter bushing rebuild kit, plus a stock shift knob and a replacement heater control knob (actually a Suzuki Swift part....shhh! wink) I have a replacement shift boot on order, plus a boatload of brake parts that should be slowly steaming across the Pacific as we speak.

Finally, she also got a long-awaited bath:

Couldn't let the others get jealous, so while the sun was out, I was washing!

Run_Away [FS]
Run_Away [FS] GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/27/20 11:35 p.m.

That's really cool, and I appreciate the fitment pictures. I'm very close in size to you, so I wasn't expecting the room.

Is there more room to be had with a seat?

In reply to Run_Away [FS] :

I would guess a little bit, but haven't pulled the stock seat yet to confirm. There looks to be a little space (inch or two) behind the seat back and below the seat bottom. Taking advantage of it may mess with the range of adjustments available but that might not matter for us larger folk.

Brake parts have been trickling in. I decided that once I'm in there, might as well be prepared to do it all. I have pads, rotors, and new hard lines. A second set of caliper rebuild kits (first ones tracked as delivered but weren't actually delivered angry) should be on the way, and braided stainless flex lines are en route as well.

Sadly it looks like my hard-fought DMV appointment for next month might be for nought. Knowledgeable sources indicate that there is no chance in hell of registering it in Oregon, and an ownership title with no registration is the best I can hope for. 

Washington is more sane about such things, so I may see if my dad is interested in 'buying it' and  letting me 'borrow it on occasion.' I've also been musing off and on for several years now about looking for a second property in the area as an investment/rental/potential future living option for my myself, so maybe this is the impetus I need to put that idea on the front burner and focus my search north of the Columbia.

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