HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 1990 Toyota Sera

Pick of the Day: 1990 Toyota Sera

The inspiration for the McLaren F1 doors


People who regularly attend cars and coffee events are always looking for cars that blow them away. Usually the cars that do this are things like an Enzo Ferrari, McLaren F1, or a Pagani. These are amazing designs that grab your attention and have styling features that are modern, different, or simply wild. The downside is that those cars that grab enthusiasts, especially younger enthusiasts, attention tend to cost north of a million dollars. I have an alternative car that will grab the same enthusiasts’ attention at these shows, likely more than the cars in the million dollar range.

That car is the Pick of the Day a 1990 Toyota Sera for sale on

Now just to set the record straight, the Toyota Sera is not a Kei car with a tiny interior and powered by a 600cc engine. Instead this is a roomy car with a 1.6 liter engine that is both better built and more interesting than any Kei car I can think of.

The Sera was first shown in 1988 as the Toyota AXV-II concept car, however it was anything but ready for production. It is most famous for its glass roof canopy and butterfly doors, and yes these doors were in fact the inspiration for the ones Gordon Murray designed for the McLaren F1 (apparently his neighbor had a Sera and when he saw the cool doors he decided the F1 had to have them as well). The Sera was introduced only a year later as a production car at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show. This was easy to do because the mechanical parts for the Sera all come from the Toyota parts bin that were also used in the Corolla, Tercel, and Starlet. Sharing these parts was a big advantage over the Kei cars that the JDM crowd love so much as this means that the Sera has great parts availability when compared to Kei cars.

The ad states that this is a 1989 model, but I am guessing that this is a car with a 1989 build date that is in fact is a 1990 model. These cars are quite rare with a total of only 15,941 built from 1990 to 1995 with practically every car destined for Japan only.

The seller describes this Sera as having covered only 65,000 miles from new and is stated to be in good condition. Options include 14-inch alloy wheels, power windows, power mirrors, power steering, A/C, an AM/FM Cassette/CD stereo with Bluetooth, and stow away rear seating.

This really looks like a Sera to buy due to the recent servicing 3,200 miles ago which covers any potential Sera trouble spots. That service included new oil and filter, new transmission filter, new air filter, new battery, new A/C R134a and A/C compressor oil, new radiator, new cooling hoses, new spark plugs, new plug wires, new distributor cap and rotor, new door and tailgate struts, new valve cover gasket, all new belts, new water pump, and a new timing belt and tensioner.

The photos show a nice driver level car with good paint, a clean original interior, and, importantly, this Sera has a current transferrable Tennessee title, so all the work has been done to get it here.

I have seen a few of these at RADwood shows, and they attract a bigger crowd than any high end European sports car. They are also comfortable and fun to drive, though expect to get a million questions about the car every time you stop for gas.

Now for the best part. This 1990 Toyota Sera is being offered for only $11,000, or the same price as a nice Miata. I guarantee the Sera will get more attention than any Miata and am starting to wonder why I have not bought one myself. If you want to win cars and coffee, you might want to seriously consider adding this cool little car to your garage.

Click here to see this Pick of the Day listed on

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.


  1. Great car. Too bad they never sold them here.

    Designed by Stewart Reed, Chairman Emeritus Transportation Design Art Center College of Design

  2. Hello, I am a realistic buyer at the asking price of $11,000. I live in Florida and Massachusetts. Where may I fly in to complete the transaction? As long as I receive a clear title and a guarantee of no encumbrance, as well as copies of current ownership documentation I am comfortable.


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