“Neat car, what is that?” people will say as they see a Sera drive past. The party really starts when you go to get into or out of a Sera, because when you whip open those butterfly doors suddenly all eyes are on you. A DeLorean on the cheap, a slick entry into JDM ownership, the Toyota Sera makes it easy to score countless cool points.
Sera lives and dies by its doors. Not lambo-style, not gullwing, but ‘butterfly’ as they open forward and out, kind of in-between those styles. If you want to be super obnoxious you could rattle on about how Gordon Murray saw the Toyota Sera and decided the McLaren F1 would have the same type of doors. Besides the whole door thing though, the Sera is an attractive, compact sporty coupe. Smaller than you’d expect on the outside, more roomy on the inside then you’d think, with a punchy little 4 cyl engine and a 5 speed manual that makes driving this fashion accessory fun. Factory original projector headlights are a neat bonus.
Bolstery front seats wrapped in thick corduroy fabric hold you as you sit in a glass dome. The doors have a removable sunshade that inserts into the top portion to keep the sun off you if you so choose. Large clear windshield and a giant rear glass hatch means the cold AC is more of a requirement than a bonus, lucky then that the air conditioning in this Sera was recently serviced and will freeze you out even in direct sunlight. OEM floor mats with extreme 90s design are where they should be for every passenger, front and back. The tweeters on the dashboard give away that this Sera has the coveted ‘Live Sound’ package, giving you a fantastic stereo system that still sounds fantastic today. Previous owner replaced the original head unit with a dual-Alpine setup with both functioning tape and CD capability. The speakers (and subwoofer) all work as they should and it still sounds great.
Since we’ve imported this Sera we’ve had the following done: New timing and accessory belts, tensioners and pulleys, R134 conversion and service of the AC system, and new door struts. Vehicle was originally a metallic maroon from the factory but was repainted white pearl at some point in Japan. The black trim around the windshield has flaked off, the same story for the rear glass hatch black trim. The rear spoiler is faded and there is a spot of rust on the driver’s door rear pillar. No rust or corrosion anywhere else. Interior imperfections are the passenger side dashboard as the previous owner had something mounted that’s left a mark on the paint. There are a few knicks and tears on the interior, shown in the pictures in detail. Rear parcel shelf has vinyl peeling along with the paperboard itself broken in a few areas but it still functions. There is also a rear panel that sits behind the back seats that is also experiencing the vinyl peel issue. Again, this is shown in the pictures.
The Toyota Sera stands out among any other JDM import partially because it’s just so dang Japanese, but also because it’s an easy car to live with. Mechanically it’s a US-market Tercel or Paseo with a fancy-door body stuck on top. It is inexpensive to run, maintain and drive. Everyone loves a Sera, everyone is impressed by the doors, but it’s still a reliable and robust little 90s Toyota Tercel at its core. All of the flash of an Autozam AZ-1 but none of the headache, with the bonus you can bring more than one small friend with you.
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