1990 Toyota Sera Phase 1
Stock Number: 4686
Toyota has been generally considered a risk-averse company, with much of the brand's products being marketed to the masses. The Sera, on the other hand, is an incredibly radical design departure from almost everything else that was being sold alongside it. Its dihedral doors were actually the inspiration for Gordon Murray's Mclaren F1, however, the underpinnings utilized touted Toyota build quality making this a wonderful daily driver that is affordable to own (unlike the McLaren.) This model year 1990 example is finished in a stealthy Dark Gray Mica (188) and offered with a mere 41K verified miles. The body is in good shape besides a few minor dings, and chips associated with normal use. Legally imported, and recently serviced this unique and rare Toyota is a bona fide Japanese Classic.
It's rare that the interior write-up is more interesting than the mechanical section, but the Sera's cockpit could be the best part of the car. To enter, you pull the door handle and let the doors sail upward. The advantage of this type of design is that when parking in the tight confines of a city, the door doesn't need to be opened as wide as a regular car. Ingress and egress are easy, and when you're nestled behind the wheel, the view is incredible. Its almost like riding in a jet fighter, and besides the tiny A-pillar, the view ahead is unobstructed. The dash is in good shape and is neither cracked nor distorted like many vehicles of this age. Above, the view of the heavens is breathtaking. While it may feel like a convertible, the passengers are fully protected from the elements which means you can use this year-round. One thing to note is the fact the Sera does have, albeit small, power windows, which can aid ventilation. The power windows work as they should and the Sera also includes functional power locks and automatic climate control. The latter of which has received a recharge to get you through the few remaining days of summer. Other original touches are the OEM audio system, which powers up and works fine, and a set of original OEM carpet mats. The pattern is cool, edgy, and undoubtedly straight out of the '90s. The carpets and door cards are in good shape, and the seats are highly stylized in their design. The taupe-colored cloth is in good shape, lacking any major imperfections such as rips, stains, or tears. They are comfortable on long cruises, and this Sera even includes a center armrest, which we haven't seen before.
The engine and transmission were Toyota staples, and the Sera shares most components with US Paseo's and Tercels. Powered by a 1.5L naturally aspirated four-cylinder it has more than enough power to get up to interstate speeds. Fresh off an oil and filter service, the 5E-FHE churns over with a quick twist of the key. Mated to an automatic transmission, the front-drive setup is handy if you encounter some snow, and allows for a spacious interior layout. The automatic shifts properly and lacks any clunking or hesitation. The power steering is quite light, and the suspension can handle rough US roads without beating up the occupants inside. The brakes feel confident, which is a good thing because this car is actually no bantamweight. The coupe sits on a set of 14" Weds Joker alloy wheels, which sets off the look and update the aesthetic.
When purchasing a monocoque car, you'd expect to pay hundreds of thousands. How about a fraction of that, for something that is high on curb appeal and affordable to maintain. The Sera makes for a top-notch JDM import that is actually usable, and for that reason, it won't last long!
*California Residents: In order to register a Grey Market vehicle in the state of California then it will have to be made CARB complaint first. CARB certifications will have to be performed within the state. Depending on the vehicle and any existing modifications will affect the pricing. Typically CARB compliance will range between 5-10K. Additional information can be found on the California Air Resources Board website.