While each succeeding year brings a fresh onslaught of Japanese cars to worry European and American manufacturers, there is at least one less model that will be no such threat, for the manufacturers are unaccountably keeping it solely for domestic consumption.
Toyota’s Little Jewel !
The Toyota Sera is not a name that will mean anything to anybody, but there is no doubt that had Toyota decided to release the model from captivity, it would be a name as readily on the lips as the MX-5 or the MR2.
As it stands a couple of examples have actually made their way to this country, one of which came to the notice of Motor Sport reader Tim Robinson who described and photographed just what a stunning car it is.
Capable of carrying four people, although the rear seat space may be a little cramped, the most unusual feature of this Escort-sized car is the operation of the doors — for the Sera has gullwing doors.
Hinged from the roof and wing top, they swing up and forward controlled in their movement by a gas-strut located behind the A-post. At first glance they appear to be heavy and awkward, but this is quickly dismissed once opened and their weight and amount of damping is perfect, allowing easy operation from both inside and outside.
The tailgate, with integral spoiler, hinges upward to reveal a plastic lid covering the moderately sized boot. The high lip, however, would cause problems if heavier items needed to be loaded.
Wrap-around rear light lenses and colour-coded absorbing bumpers continue the smooth theme, with flush indicators and combined hemispherical headlamps, fog and sidelight units at the front.
This particular example is finished in metallic grey which is continued inside with grey seats and trim and yellow on black instrumentation.
Powered by Toyota’s 1500cc twin-cam engine, driven through a five-speed box, the price of this little stunner is somewhere around £13,000 in Japan, where it has caught on in a big way, but with Toyota Japan adamant about its non-appearance here, or in any other country for that matter, it seems unlikely that we shall see any more on our roads. — WPK