A Or B, O-Kei

First…when the damn virus became the front-page news every day I was determined not to let it take over my blog. I wanted this space to be a refuge from the unrelentingly bad news.

While I have little doubt that the MSM has over-reported the negative and under-reported the positive, this damn virus has been a scourge of scourges. That’s why the news that the UK has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for use is worth mentioning. The U.K. government is the first in the world to formally approve the U.S.-German vaccine for widespread use; that approval means Britain will be one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population.

The FDA will not be formally considering Pfizer’s and Moderna’s applications for emergency use authorization until next week. The US does not do everything better than every other country in the world. It is true, though, that 60% of all new pharmaceuticals come from the US. That wouldn’t happen under a government scheme of price controls and other constraints.

Let’s hope the recent Goldman Sachs report on a vaccination timeline is at least close to right. This report, based on a combination of supply assessments (using data from leading vaccine developers) and demand using consumer survey data, estimates that half the population of the US and Canada will be vaccinated by the end of April. This report did predict that the UK would reach the 50% threshold before the US and Canada (by the end of March).


Yes, I love Corvettes and first-generation Buick Rivieras and the DeTomaso Longchamp and Aston Martins, etc. Like many automobile enthusiasts, I am a big fan of high-performance cars with great styling.

However, I have a thing for small cars. While I do not like the SmartCar, I think the Scion iQ was a handsome little car (picture from Auto Evolution).


See the source image


Today’s A Or B post was inspired by an episode of Everyday Driver. In this episode Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker drive an Autozam AZ-1 (manufactured by Mazda) and a Suzuki Cappuccino–Kei cars–in the streets of Seattle.

It was actually kind of funny to watch the 6-foot-3 Deeken try to wedge himself into these Kei cars. In case you don’t know, or even if you do, the Kei car category was created by the Japanese government in 1949, and the regulations have been revised several times since. These regulations specify a maximum vehicle size, engine capacity, and power output, so that owners may enjoy both tax and insurance benefits. I believe the current regulations are that to qualify as a Kei car, and so the owner can receive the tax/insurance benefits, the car cannot be more than 11 feet long, more than 5 feet wide and the engine cannot have a displacement of more than 660 cc, which is 40 cubic inches.

These cars have been enormously popular in Japan, at times reaching a 40% market share. Not surprisingly, when the Japanese government raised the Kei-car tax by 50% in 2014, sales of the cars declined. The people who think taxes don’t matter so government can make them as high as they want should have operations to have their heads removed from their rectums. <end soapbox>

As one of the hosts said (I think it was Paul Schmucker), not all cars are world cars that can be sold in every market. As the facts that more than 70% of American adults are overweight and one-third are obese are a major driver in the move away from cars and towards SUVs and pickup trucks, only a very small percentage of Americans could drive these cars comfortably.

The top photo of an Autozam AZ-1 (without its gull-wing doors open) is from Import a Vehicle. The bottom photo of a Suzuki Cappuccino is from Wikipedia.


See the source image

See the source image


I believe both cars use the same Suzuki engine: a turbocharged, 3-cylinder engine of 657 cc displacement (40 cubic inches) that produces 63 HP/63 LB-FT of torque.

OK, maybe this is an extremely idiosyncratic manifestation of my “enthusiasm” for cars, but I like what I like. What can I say? Besides, where else can you read about Maseratis one day and Kei cars the next?

Kind people, please choose between the Autozam AZ-1 and the Suzuki Cappuccino. Thanks.









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Wednesday Cappuccino, Anyone?

No, not this:

See the source image

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)



Also from Wikimedia Commons a picture of a Suzuki Cappuccino. Here is a link to a video about the car.

OK, why am I writing about the Suzuki Cappuccino? Two reasons: first, I was browsing through the second volume (M-Z) of the Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile, saw a picture of this car and thought it looked interesting. Yes, I look through automotive reference books for fun. Does that surprise anyone reading this? Second, I am trying to demonstrate that I am not just about high-performance cars. The looks of a car grab me first and I think the Cappuccino has a great look despite its diminutive stature.

If beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone then the Bugatti cars (the Veyron and Chiron) are skeletons. Even ignoring that they are produced by Volkswagen, they are hideous to me. The performance of the car does not offset the looks, in my opinion. The Cappuccino is like a pushcart compared to the Bugatti autos, but I would rather have the Suzuki.

Do you know what a Kei Car is? In Japan it is the legal category for the smallest and most limited power, highway-legal motor vehicles, including passenger cars. These vehicles provide tax and insurance breaks for their owners and are very popular in Japan. The Cappuccino, which was produced from 1991 to 1997, is a Kei Car.

This car was powered by a turbocharged 12-valve, 3-cylinder engine of 657 cc/40 cubic-inch displacement that produced 63 HP/63 LB-FT of torque. The Kei regulations set a maximum allowable HP figure, which I believe is 63 HP.

The Cappuccino had just an 81-inch wheelbase, was 130 inches long, 55 inches wide and weighed just 1,600 pounds. Any car with a wheelbase length in double-digits (in inches) is small.  Despite a search of decent length I was unable to locate total production for the Cappuccino; for its first two years (1991-92) about 28,000 were made.

Anyone else have a thing for this car or ones like it?