October 1987 – Toyota shows a concept car called AXV-II at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1987.
AXV stood for Advanced eXperimental Vehicle, and was a series of concept cars, each using clever technology and production techniques.
AXV-II would make it to production form, and whilst there were both mechanical and cosmetic changes, the landmark feature, the two dihedral doors with large glass cockpit and rear hatch made it into production largely unchanged.
March 1990 – the Toyota Sera goes on sale in March 1990. The cars were built by Toyota’s Central Motor Co. Ltd factory.
May 1991 – minor revisions to the Sera introduced, I call them phase II cars. The main identifier was a change of seat materials, and a screw on rather than bayonet fit fuel filler cap.
June 1992 more revisions, which I call phase III cars. The main identifier was a hard plastic rear spoiler, colour coded to the paintwork, with a built in third brake light. Seat materials changed again.
December 1995 – production ceases after just under 15,500 cars produced.
History within the UK
During the early part of the 1990’s a number of companies set up importing unusual cars from Japan. The Toyota Soarer was a popular car, and the Sera was also popular. Many of these cars were bought new in Japan and shipped directly to the UK.
During the late 1990’s with the advent of the internet making contact with Japan much easier, large numbers of secondhand Japanese cars came to the UK. It was mostly Japanese versions of familiar UK cars coming over, such as the Mazda MX5, Toyota MR2 and Celicas, but also 4WD’s such as the Mistubishi Pajero, as well as Japanese high performance versions of the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer and the famous Nissan Skyline GT-R. The Sera, Honda Beat and Nissan Figaro were also imported in lower numbers.
I purchased my first Sera in 1998 and this website was started shortly afterwards.
Toyota UK’s stance was to have nothing to do with imported models, primarily because the glut of cheap MR2’s and Celicas were taking official UK sales away and banning imports was something to differentiate the UK cars compared to their imported cousins. The Sera and Soarer with no direct UK equivalent was lumped into this.
However during the 2000’s Toyota’s opinion on imports changed somewhat, and dealers were able to supply spare parts and servicing was at the service managers discretion.