Butterfly-Doored Toyota Sera Was Years Ahead Of Its Time

And was never sold outside of Japan.
The 1990s was a great time for Toyota sports cars. Not only was there the Supra, but also the Celica and MR2. Unfortunately, some of Toyota's coolest cars never arrived stateside or even left Japan. Such was the case of the Toyota Sera. Launched in 1990, the Sera was a butterfly-doored three-door 2+2-seater fastback with futuristic-styling that included a glass roof and funky tailgate. Toyota notes that Gordon Murray, famed designer of the McLaren F1, was even inspired by the Sera's cool doors.
Amazingly, the 1988 concept version of the Sera, the AXV-II, looked nearly identical to what was ultimately produced. With its front-engine and front-wheel-drive setup, the Sera was mechanically similar to the Tercel and Paseo.
It came powered by just one engine option, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 104 horsepower and 97 lb-ft of torque, and was paired to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. It was incredibly light, weighing just 1,962 pounds, which was made possible by-then advanced lightweight construction techniques. It was also one of the first vehicles to come equipped with bright projection headlights.
Toyota was partially inspired to take a punt on such a bold design because of Japan's growing economy. Citizens were doing well financially and had disposable income for things like a futuristic-looking fun car.
Unfortunately, the economic success didn't last long and the country soon went into a depression. Toyota had no choice but to respond and by 1995 the Sera was dead. During its brief lifetime, it managed to leave a lasting mark on the JDM community. It even appeared in some video games and today is a highly sought-after collector's car. A total of 15,941 examples were built in that six-year period built.
A green-painted example (pictured here) is now part of Toyota's 75-car classics collection in Germany. Toyota doesn't say how much it's potentially worth, but it is possible to import them to the US as the 25-year import ban has now expired.


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