Wanted to provide some updates for those who might be interested in the importing process, and some of the work I am doing on the car.
The Cappuccino will be my daily driver, so first and foremost I want to ensure that it is reliable and comfortable. The S2000 will be the track focused weapon, it will still get used once or twice a month for group drives and meets, but largely will stay in the garage between track days.
So the importation process is not as big a deal as some people make it seem, it's not hard, but you have to have all your documentation and proof to show that the car truly is 25 years or older. Once you have this, you have to have 3 different forms to bring it into the USA, one form for the EPA, one form for the DOT, and lastly one form for Customs & Border Patrol. Once you have all 3 filled out, and have all the necessary documents you have to take the car to the port you are importing the car through and the border agents inspect the car to insure it complies. Most people will use a broker, but it is possible to do this yourself... just requires a few hours of research and filling out lots of forms. Patience is key, and ask others who have gone through the process. My Cappuccino came through the port in Anacortes, Washington... there was intially a snag as the customs agent had never processed a vehicle being imported directly by the owner (myself) and not through an agent or import company, but after speaking over the phone with me and providing him some additional information to confirm my identity, they let the car in. From there the car was driven to Seattle, and I scheduled with an Auto Transport company (Montway) to collect the car and bring it to Texas.
Here is the car on the ferry coming over to the port in Anacortes, Washington
The car on American soil, waiting for the customs agents to clear it
The Cappuccino getting loaded on the car transporter while the Mini Coopers in the background look on with envy
The car arrived 4 days later, in good shape but filthy from road grime from its long journey
Tucked in the garage next to the S2000, you can tell how much smaller it is than the already "small" S2000
Once home, I needed to get the vehicle registered with the State of Texas, which has its own requirements for an imported car. First I had to get a temporary permit to allow me to drive the vehicle, this part was straight forward. From there had to get a safety inspection (no emissions testing required for cars 25 years or older) then had to get a VIN inspection performed by a local Auto Theft Task Force. Once I had both of those items completed, I went to the local DMV.
Waiting at the local gas station for the car to be inspsected
The inspector had never seen a Kei car and was fascinated with the car, it passed with no issues
One of the things that I really enjoy is finding all the unique "JDM" touches, including this Special Racing Produce exhaust!
Oil change stickers, there are quite a few under this top one... nice to see that the Japanese owner took care of oil changes
I think this one is from the port where the vehicle was shipped from
All of these elements add to the unique character of the car, and I will be leaving them as they are.
It took a few weeks to complete all the requirements to get the official Texas registration, the strangest one was having to make an appointment with an "Auto Theft Taskforce" from a neighnoring city to have them verify that the car was not stole and then exported/imported to clean the title.
Cappuccino waiting for inspector to verify the VIN and give the all clear
Once I had all the necessary pieces done, took all the documentation (original title, import documentation, bill of sale, transportation documents, inspection certificate, VIN inspection certificate, and Texas title/registration form) to my local tax office and was able to get the car registered. As a bonus, since the car is over 25 years old, was able to register it as a "Classic Vehicle" with the state of Texas and got to personalize the plate for only $40. Went with something unique to fit the character of the car, the wife and I had taken to calling it Cappi as a nickname, and it fit... so CAPPI it is!
Now that the car was official, I decided to address some issues, repair some of the worn/old items, and personalize it for me. The first thing I did was order a replacement gauge overlay for the cluster, it's hard to know what speed you are doing when your speedometer reads in KM/H! I new that 100 kmh = 62 mph, but otherwise was relying on a GPS Speedometer app to keep it under the speed limit (and this car is easy to drive fast in!)
The gauges are made by Revlimiter, and they are amazing. Really top notch work, and the attention to detail was really refreshing. Highly recommend his products.
New gauges on top, old gauges on the bottom
Up next was the air filter, it had an HKS mushroom air filter that had definitley seen better days, the cover was filthy and starting to show surface rust, the filter itslef was clogged, and when I removed it was falling apart.
I cleaned the filter housing with Simple Green, washed it well, then resprayed the mesh cover with Duplicolo enamel spray paint. Lastly replaced the air filter with a new HKS air filter, looks brand new!