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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

FULL REVIEW: Toyota SERA (1990 to 95)

FULL REVIEW: MODERN CLASSIC. Toyota SERA 1.5(A) 1990 to 1995.

In this blog entry, I'm covering one of my Childhood's favourite car. It is no other than the "GULL WINGED" Toyota Sera 1.5(A). I was only 11 years old when first I saw the SERA in KL International Motorshow 1990. It was a "LOVE AT 1st SIGHT" back then as I marvelled at the Special "Open upwards" DOOR. Hence, I told myself, "QUE SERA SERA, I WILL OWN YOU SOMEDAY".

The SERA's produced strictly for Japan Domestic Market (JDM), though few units were exported to Malaysia by Grey Importers.
The Toyota Sera is a fantastic concept car by Toyota. with 15852 units made from 1990 to 1994. An estimated 150 units of Toyota Sera made their way to Malaysia.

Market value for a Toyota SERA in Malaysia. The SERA has no FIXED Market price It's BOTH Buyers and seller's market due to the RARITY. Recently, there's one 1991 model going for RM35000. But there's one early 90s Black unit from ZEROTOHUNDRED (ZTH) sold for a mere RM20,000 cash.

Due to the rarity, I don't have a chance to Test drive / FEEL the car. All is not lost, I dished out 1 DEALS ON WHEELS (UK) VIDEO on Toyota Sera (to be upload by 21 April), 1 Buyer's guide and 1 "Technical Specification".
Without further ado, here's the "Buyer's guide)


A few tips on what to look for when buying a Toyota Sera.
All the exterior body panels are unique to the Sera and are not shared with any European Toyota. When considering purchasing a car, inspect the body closely for damage and signs of accident repair. If there is signs of accident repair, I would advise you to seek further advice.

Bodywork is generally the most expensive part of a car to repair.
A small magnet will be useful to check that the car has not had dents repaired with filler - magnets stick to the body, but not to filler. Small parking dents can often easily knocked out if the dent has not broken the paint.

In the event of an accident, specialist body shops, such as the one at Omicron, can fabricate panels from sheet steel to fit the Sera, or panels can be shipped from Japan. Bear in mind that a panel takes up a lot of volume, so shipping costs, which are often charged on the volumetric scale rather than normal weight scale.

Front and rear bumpers are plastic mouldings painted body colour. Lamps are also unique to the Sera and have to come from Japan.

The glass on the Sera is unique - there are 6 pieces altogether - the windscreen, the rear screen, and two pieces for each door - the drop glass and the other piece curving up into the roof.

The front screen is laminated (ie two panes of glass sandwiching an adhesive, transparant plastic film), the rest of the glass is toughened (ie shatters into millions of tiny cubes.)

Check these panes for damage - the two door drop glasses should raise and lower nicely and smoothly. Is is not uncommon to find slight scores on the drop glasses caused by trapped grit particles.

Drivers window has an automatic up/down facility - press down slightly for normal operation, press fully for automatic drop, naturally the opposite direction is the same.

The rear screen has the rear demist and is supported by two struts. This glass also incorporates the radio aerial, although in some areas an external aerial is sometimes fitted to aid reception.

Check seats for damage to the cloth and make sure they move properly. The drivers seat also has a height adjuster. The rear seats fold to reveal a removable panel separating the car from the boot. There are two rear lap belts on early cars, later cars had 3 point belts in the rear.

In the passenger footwell, you may find two clips, or a red 'cigar' sized object down there. This is instead of a hazard triangle, and is in fact a small chemical lightstick. There is a best before date on it - Its up to you to decide if you want it in the car!

The cars originally came with two removable roof panels which cut out the glare from the sun. It would be nice if these were with the car. UK regulations call for a rear fog lamp. Picture SOURCE: (6) The dash is sometimes spoilt by people hurriedly fitting a switch. There is a blanking plate for an extra switch next to the mirror controls on the RHS of the steering wheel.

The cars are originally fitted with a KM/H speedo. To convert to MPH divide by 8 and multiply by 5. There are three ways of converting to read into MPH. Both have pro's and con's.

In the boot there should be a tool kit and a spacesaver spare wheel. Check if the car has locking wheel nuts - check that the key required to unlock these is present.
The CV joints are prone to wear - to check these, put the car in reverse and drive backwards on full steering lock. If you hear a 'clonk', there is some wear and should be replaced at some point in the future. Do this steering in both directions.

Put your weight on each corner of the car to test the shock absorbers - they should compress and then return to the original position quickly. If the car bounces around, maybe there is excessive wear in the dampers.

The gas struts for the doors weaken through use - the more frequently used drivers door may not support its own weight. These can be rebuilt or easily replaced.
The engine (Toyota 5E-FHE) is generally reliable, but check oil level and colour - there have been engine failures caused by low oil levels or oil starvation caused by oil deposits clogging the engine. I would recommend all Seras to have an engine flushing at each service. It is best to be on the safe side.

The cam belt should be changed at 100,000km, or sooner if there is no evidence of the last change, or a long period without use. Changing the timing belt isn't really a DIY job.

Whilst under the bonnet, check that the brake fluid and power steering reservoirs are full.

Brakes - some cars had ABS which meant brake discs and brake pads on each wheel. Some cars had drum brakes at the rear, and hence brake shoes. Some cars also had a drivers airbag.

Brake Fluid - use DoT 4 or higher specification rather than DoT 3. DoT 3 has a lower boiling point and isn't recommended.


There was a wide selection of extra-cost options for the Sera including ABS, body decals, protective rubbing strips, corner finder, reversing aids, door kick plates, rear spoiler, tinting, alloy wheels, dash mounted cup holder, central storage locker as well as interior telephones, navigation systems, CD-autochangers, in-car fax machines, front fog lamps and a choice of two automatic in-car fragrancers.

There is not a huge amount of headroom in the rear for tall people. The car should be regarded as a 2+2 or even a 2 seater rather than a proper 4 seater.

The market prices in the UK can vary wildly.

Generally - you get what you pay for, although excellent cars do sometimes sell at below market value and vice versa. It is always worth looking at cars out of your intended price range.

A sub £ 2000 SERA will be requiring some cosmetic attention, or may be high mileage.
£ 3000 - £ 4000 will be generally be presentable and in average to above average condition.
£ 4000 + will be newer cars, or lower mileage cars, very highly specified or notable for some other reason
-END OF ARTICLE. Sourced from:

Technical Specifications: SOURCE:

Model Code EXY10
Track 55.3" front and rear
Wheelbase 90.6"
Length 152.0"
Width 65.0"
Height 49.8"
Weight 2075 lbs

Engine Code 5E-FHE
Engine type transverse inline 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16v, cast iron block, alloy cylinder head, belt driven, with geared camshafts.
Peak power 108bhp @ 6400 rpm
Peak torque 97 lb ft @ 5200 rpm
Bore x Stroke, mm 73.9mm x 87.1mm (2.91" x 3.43")
Capacity 1496cc
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Ignition Breakerless, Electronic igntion.
Fuel Supply Fuel injected

Steering Rack and Pinion, power assisted
Brakes Vented discs (front), drums at rear unless fitted with ABS - discs all round
Front Suspension MacPherson struts with lower control arms and anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension Trailing arm beam axle, Panhard Rod, coil springs, dampers and anti-roll bar
Wheels / Tyres
Body Monocoque construction, steel
Transmission 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic driving front wheels via unequal length driveshafts
Ignition Breakerless, Electronic igntion.


Certain colours phased out and other colours phased in during the lifespan of the Sera. Wine Red and Dark Grey for example was phased out when the phase 2 Sera was introduced, and at that point Burnt Orange and Astral Black was introduced.
Some people have had their Seras repainted - the above are the standard Toyota colours. I have seen yellow and white Seras...


Picture above, scissor door, also featured in McLaren F1.

(1) Picture Sourced from SERA DOWN UNDER Club:
(2)BUYER"S GUIDE: Sourced from:
3)Technical Specifications: SOURCE:

THAT"S ALL FOLKS, Thanks for having the time and patience to read this blog entry.


  1. very nice its very usefull tips added by u. and this is a great information for all the people.
    i also love this car can u help
    me out do u know where is the toyota showrooms or any website
    can provide the address of all the show rooms of toyota sera all around the world. i will be very thankfull to u.

  2. Anonymous11:16 AM

    Thanks for all the information of the buyers guide, I will be looking at one tomorrow!