What Is the Weirdest Car Toyota Has Ever Made?
Toyota is one of the largest worldwide automobile manufacturers, producing millions of vehicles annually. The Japanese automaker has delivered best-selling models such as the Corolla and Camry.
Despite the company being a number one automaker because of its unsurpassed reputation for quality, reliability, and dependability, it has still managed to design some weird Toyota cars over the years.
Some of the weird Toyota cars that have hit the market
In the ’19’90s, the Dodge Caravan became the battle cry of suburbia as soccer moms across the country loaded up their minivans to tote the kids where they needed to go. But, instead of embracing that family-friendly ideal, Toyota unveiled the unusually shaped Previa.
With an odd rounded design, the rear-wheel-drive van had a mid-engine layout and a five-speed manual transmission that emitted a sports car sound. The Previa was unlike anything anyone had ever seen and remained on the market until getting discontinued in 1997.
Other weird Toyota vehicles to hit the market over the years include the Humvee-inspired Mega Cruiser, the subcompact square-shaped Scion xB, the FJ Cruiser, which included rear passenger suicide doors, and the most recently released hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai.
The weirdest Toyota car ever made
Perhaps the weirdest vehicle Toyota ever made was the Toyota Sera, which had butterfly doors and a glass canopy roof. According to Gear Patrol, Gordon Murray found inspiration from the unusual doors when he designed the McLaren F1.
Despite immense interest from the American market, the Toyota Sera was only available in Japan from 1990 to 1995. The simplistic styling of the small coupe was unimpressive, except for the unique uplifting doors that caught everyone’s attention.
The doors were hinged in two places and lifted unevenly. The hydraulics lifted an extra inch higher on the right-hand-drive side to allow easier access to the cockpit. And, while the glass roof created a stealth fighter jet appearance, it made it incredibly hot for vehicle occupants, especially on a sunny day. The sun visors, mounted on the center frame of the vehicle, became a necessity to fight the fierce reflection.
The front-wheel drive Sera had a small, 1.5-liter four-cylinder powertrain that only produced 108 hp for meager performance capabilities. The vehicle was available with both automatic and manual transmission, and when it was in reverse gave off an annoying beeping sound to remind the driver the car was backing up.
Another odd feature was the dual-speaker boom box mounted on the rear deck, labeled the “Sera Super Live Sound System.” It offered both a casual and funky mode for an enhanced sound experience.
Why the strange car never made it to the U.S.?
According to Car and Driver, the Sera sold in Japan for approximately $11,000. It was never made available in the United States because it was developed “without regard for our government’s crash standards.” Structural modifications to meet American regulations would amount to starting over with the unusual vehicle. The powertrain was also unlike anything in Toyota’s American lineup, and the threat of lawsuits from the unique doors trapping passengers in a rollover accident was too great to bear.
Production of the Toyota Sera discontinued in 1995, with approximately 16,000 models in circulation. According to Toyota UK, the Japanese economy was in steep decline at the time and “the optimism and decadence wrapped up in the futuristic Toyota Sera had run its course.”
The unusual coupe with the weird glass butterfly doors became a favorite of American car collectors, who were allowed to import and register the vehicles in the U.S. once the car became 15 to 25 years of age. Now more than 30 years old, Toyota UK claims the Sera is “being discovered, appreciated, and restored by a new generation of Toyota Enthusiasts.”