Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What does the red button near the gear shift lever do?

Answer: The red button is only fitted to cars with the automatic gearbox. The Japanese writing near the button says ‘shift lock system’ and the writing on the button itself says ‘Release’. The purpose of this button is to move the car out of park without starting the engine. The other answer is an ejector seat!

QuestionAre there any handbooks or workshop manuals in English

Answer: No – the Sera was a Japanese market vehicle only, so all specific manuals are in Japanese. I can get the drivers handbook translated but would require 100 orders at £ 25.00 a time.

QuestionI can’t find any bulbs for the dip beam headlamp unit.

AnswerThe dip beam bulb is not a common European bulb. It is the H3C and this is very similar to the European H3 bulb. In fact bulb mounting and filament are identical. The differences is that the H3C has two terminals on the back of the bulb, and the H3 has one terminal. To use the H3 bulb, you need to make a short cable, with one male spade terminal on one end (this connects to the Sera wiring loom) and a female spade terminal on the other (this connects to an earthing tag which is on the back of the headlamp next to the dip beam bulb holder. The H3 bulb connects to the other terminal on the wiring loom. This method is sometimes known as the “Lewis” method – as Paul Lewis, Sera owner near Birmingham, discovered this trick…

QuestionI live in the USA, can I have a SERA?

AnswerThe US import regulations do not make it easy to import a car that has not been through the Federal Approval procedure. When the car is 25 years old, then it will get easier. Currently the car could be imported under a recently introduced “show / display” clause, but any car imported under this procedure is limited to 2500 miles per year. The other method is to import the car and make it comply with US regulations, something which would cost US$ 5000 + and several months of waiting.

UPDATE: I was emailed by a Sera owner in Washington. How it got to the US is as yet unknown.

Hopefully a way to get Seras to the US legally will present itself soon.

QuestionI live in Europe, can I have a SERA?

AnswerYes, a Sera can be registered in Europe. I know of three, possibly four Seras in Germany and one Sera in Switzerland. Some modifications are needed before the car is fully legal.

QuestionWhat is the most common colour?

AnswerBased upon registry entries as at 29th October 2002, the following is found. The most common Sera colour is Dark Grey Mica which accounts for roughly 20%. Turquoise 746 appears to be the rarest (I think this was only on the rare phase III Seras (92-95) which would account for this.

UK only
Rest of World
Whole World
Dark Grey
17.6%
22.4%
19.5 %
Wine Red
15.4%
17.2%
16.1 %
Light Silver
13.2%
15.5%
14.1 %
Greenish Yellow
16.5%
8.6%
13.4 %
Light Blue
12.1%
5.2%
9.4 %
Astral Black
5.5%
6.9%
6.0 %
Burnt Orange
5.5%
5.2%
5.4 %
Red
4.4%
6.9%
5.4 %
Medium Blue
3.3%
8.6%
5.4 %
Light Turquoise
5.5%
3.4%
4.7 %
Turquoise
1.1%
0.0%
0.7 %

Cars that have been repainted are not included.
Cars whose colour has not been specified has not been included.
Sample was 91 UK cars and 58 cars outside the UK.

QuestionHow many SERAs were made?

AnswerI am not 100% sure, but at least 15852, but certainly under 16000.

The first table shows how many cars were registered in Japan per year.

1990
9665

1991

3727
1992
1238
1993
578
1994
345
1995
272
1996
8
TOTAL
15852

However, importing niche market cars from Japan to the UK was becoming a lucrative business in the early 1990’s, and I am sure it was the same story in other countries. Some of these cars may not necessarily have been registered in Japan before being exported.

The following table, from club SERA, shows the Japanese registration details split by month, where known. information from club SERA (c)2002

1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
January
114

February

134
March
1285
186
April
1075
May
1264
June
1302
July
1239
August
836
98
September
1030
265
105
October
688
November
485
December
461
phase 1 was made between 8th March 1990 and 13th May 1991
phase 2 was made between 13th May 1991 and 1st June 1992
phase 3 was made between 1st June 1992 and the end of production during December 1995

This information was found on a Russian website and shows the chassis numbers per month. Sales started in March 1990 and ended in December 1995. Maybe the last cars were ordered in 12/95 but were made and delivered during 1996?

1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
January
1033
11982
14808
15818
16346
16679
16943

February

1053
12239
14909
15858
16369
16688
March
1721
12564
14997
15909
16411
16706
April
2997
12853
15140
15974
16458
16736
May
4148
12936
15184
16041
16480
16759
June
5353
13299
15246
16075
16513
16781
July
6557
13592
15334
16120
16544
16803
August
1001
7814
13937
15453
16158
16577
16836
September
1005
8839
14108
15552
16200
16598
16846
October
10116
14350
15624
16250
16619
16874
November
1013
10996
14543
15694
16297
16633
16890
December
1030
11565
14704
15764
16234
16659
16930

QuestionHow many versions of the SERA was there?

AnswerWell, there was only one engine option and only one body option, so there was really only one Toyota SERA, but it was never quite as easy as that because the price lists were laid out in a grid to help quickly determine the cost of the car with the major options – manual or auto, with or without SLSS, with or without ABS (extra ¥ 91,000). Prices are in Japanese Yen, and were prices at launch – March 1990.

TOYOTA SERA 1.5
MANUAL TRANSMISSION
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION

standard
without ABS

¥ 1,600,000

SLSS
without ABS

¥ 1,806,000

standard
without ABS

¥ 1,675,000

SLSS
without ABS

¥ 1,881,000

with ABS
¥ 1,691,000
with ABS
¥ 1,897,000
with ABS
¥ 1,766,000
with ABS
¥ 1,972,000
To complicate things further there were two various regional differences, as Japan has quite a range of weather conditions.
SNOW VERSION
COLD AREA
SPECIFICATION
extra ¥ 5,000
extra ¥ 3,000

increased power windscreen wipers

wiper arms same length (normal car has different lenght wiper arms)

bonnet has extra sealing rubbers

some areas received extra paintwork protection

information from club SERA (c)2002

high capacity battery

some areas received extra paintwork protection

wiper arms same length (normal car has different lenght wiper arms) – but normal strenght wiper motor

heavy duty heater (larger core size)

heavy duty starter motor

bonnet has extra sealing rubbers

information from club SERA (c)2002

There was also a special version with relocated mirrors, the AMLUX limited edition version and a special version made to celebrate the 1st year, where extra equipment was included on the base version of the SERA.
FENDER MIRROR VERSION
AMLUX VERSION
ANNIVERSARY VERSION
extra ¥ 4,000
¥ 1,924,000
no information on cost

wing mirrors mounted on front wings (aka fender)

The normal position for the mirrors on the doors was replaced with a flat cover.

Quite rare – maybe under 50 cars with these mirrors were made.

The Amlux version, named after Toyotas flagship building in Tokyo, was to the first 50 applicants received by 18/10/92, cars were built between 11/92 and 12/92They were based upon the phase III automatic SERA with SLSS.ABS was available as an option. Air bag was an optionSpecial features include…• two-tone green paint
• special colour hubcaps
• blue tinted glass
• choice of 6 special colours of seat material designs
• rear seat cover
• AMLUX logo on mats
• AMLUX logo on door

The translation of the Japanese information I have suggests that there was a personalise name plate on the car, together with personalised seat custion and also special scarf.

information from
club SERA (c)2002

This vehicle was a special edition version sold in May 1991, to celebrate the 1st year of Sera production.The car was based upon the standard specification model and the 250 phase II cars built were fitted with an enhanced hi-fi system (although not as good as the premium SLSS system) and special heat reflective glass coating.

information from
club SERA (c)2002

All these cars could be customised even further with purchases from the SERA optional equipment catalogue