Kei Convertible! 1992 Suzuki Cappuccino

The word “kei” in Japanese has multiple meanings and translations to English, but kei cars are synonymous with compact bodies and small engines, that get good fuel economy and fit into tight spaces. This particular one is up for sale here on eBay out of New Jersey, so let’s see what it’s all about!

“Kei” (pronounced like KAY) comes from “Keijidosha”, the Japanese for “light automobile”.  In postwar Japan, resources were tight and space in population centers began to fill up, not leaving room for much more than bicycles or motorcycles. Kei cars first hit the streets around 1949, and were marketed to the common man who wanted a car, but either didn’t have the means, or the space, to keep a traditional-sized automobile. Flavien Vidal wrote this on Jalopnik a few years back: “These vehicles have some strict limitations to be considered a Kei: the engine must be 660cc or smaller, they cannot produce more than 64 horsepower, they can only seat four people maximum, and dimensions are also limited to about 11.2 feet long, 4.85 feet wide and 6.5 feet tall. Regular Kei-cars must also fit four people “comfortably.” ” Another plus for Kei owners was a nice tax incentive, to go along with the fuel economy. On the downside, though, many Kei vehicles are uncomfortable or downright “unsafe at any speed”, to borrow from Ralph Nader. They are, however, rather popular with young drivers and elderly folks, for their affordability

The vehicle we see before us definitely fits the bill in regard to size and engine displacement, as its 657cc, 64 horsepower engine does the job reasonably for a 1,500-lb car.  The seller provides us with a smorgasbord of photos and tells us that it runs and goes without issue, and that it its structure is sound. We can see a car that looks to be rather well-kept, and if their description is accurate, we are led to believe that it is in excellent overall shape.

I’m only 5 foot 7, so I could theoretically fit into a car like this. Whether I could drive it comfortably is a different matter altogether. For what it’s worth, there were only about 28,000 Cappuccino ever made, and they made it onto drivingline.com’s list of 5 best Kei cars and DriveTribe’s list of 10 cool Japanese cars. I dig it,and I might buy one someday, but that ‘s just my two cents. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Chas H

    The engine has a turbo w/intercooler.
    It’s interesting a car made mostly for the Japanese home market would have dash nomenclature in English.
    No photos of the top stowed in the car, but it appears to be of 3 pieces, so it like will fit somewhere.

  2. Chris M.

    I’ll opt for the actual coffee instead.

    Like 1
    • AMCFAN

      Chris M You would rather have a cup of coffee rather then this car? Man you really don’t need to be on this site. A very closed minded comment. It is so nice NOT seeing the same Corvette,Camaro or Mustang day after day.

      Having owned numerous JDM vehicles it’s true the Japanese keep their best tech in their homeland. What is also interesting is they take high performance in everything they make. Who says tiny econo cars have to be boring? It is what the US automakers have instilled in us because they do not want to make and sell those because they do not reap big truck profits.

      The Alto Works Suzuki is another Kei car that combines AWD and intercooled turbo 3 cylinder. No one told the Japanese that small tiny turd cars that the US automakers have inflicted on us have to be boring and slow.

      I welcome the 25 year rule for importing. In a land taken over by trucks SUV’s and Jeeps this is refreshing

      Like 9
      • Claudio

        Yes my friend, the jeeps , suv pick ups can park right over this little wrong sided wrong wheel drive thing …
        I sorta like these but driving and insuring in this area is a nono

        Like 1
  3. Eric

    I own a dark blue one. It is a blast. You feel like you are flying, but you are only doing 45. That said it is still rock solid at highway speeds, but I mostly drive it around down.

    The top can be a T-top, targa, or full convertible. The trunk is just big enough to fit the 3 top panels in special bags with a securing strap. The rear glass rotates into the chassis once the top is off. I am 6′ and fit fine. I am probably close to the upper limit however.

    Like 6
  4. Mike

    I’m 6′ 2″ 200 pounds and getting into this was a tight, tight fit. You don’t get into it, you wear it.

    Like 5
    • Stevieg

      So at 6’0 & 320, no way am I fitting lol?

      • Mike

        No, you’re not going to fit or even be able to close the door. I think one of those yellow/red playskool plastic cars have more room.

  5. ROBERT MORTENSEN Member

    looks very much like my ‘;92 geo metro

  6. chrlsful

    a RHD 3 cyl 650cc turbocharged car? Are you kidding me about “Do I want it?” NO0o
    Y would I want that kinda trouble? Gota nuff of my own…

  7. Mark J. Soderberg

    Could be a ”mini” Miata NA! I like it.

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