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The Toyota Sera Had McLaren F1 Doors Before the McLaren F1

Fact: The McLaren F1 did not introduce McLaren F1 doors to the world. No, McLaren F1 doors were introduced to the world by the Toyota Sera, way back in 1990. And the Toyota Sera was not some high-dollar exotic supercar that could lap the Nurburgring in less time that it takes Don McLean to belt out "American Pie." The Toyota Sera was a compact hatchback with like 90 horsepower.

Allow me to get into a little history here. The McLaren F1 made its debut sometime in 1992, and everyone lauded it for its highly cool, unique butterfly doors that hinged not on the roof like a gull wing door, and not behind the wheel like a scissor door, but around the A-pillar. This was considered exciting new technology back in the 1990s, sort of like pop-up headlights were considered exciting new technology in 1983. See the used Toyota models for sale near you

But there’s only one problem: Toyota thought of it first. The Toyota Sera debuted in February 1990, sold only in Japan. Offered with a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual and a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Sera wasn’t particularly noteworthy on paper. In practice, however, it was highly unique — thanks to its butterfly doors, which hinged around the A-pillar.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and suggest that Toyota invented this concept, because various racing cars have used them on and off over time. But a quick check of "butterfly doors" doesn’t reveal a single road car older than the Sera to use them, except for one: the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, which was built from 1967 to 1969. Normally, this would make me concede that it was Alfa Romeo, not Toyota, who invented these doors, but there’s one problem: Alfa only built 18 of these things. To me, this doesn’t really count. I could probably make 18 vehicles with butterfly doors using cardboard and rubber cement.

And so, McLaren F1 fans, just remember: That precious super-exotic ultracar you love so much took its door design from a front-wheel-drive Toyota with the same engine as the Paseo. Find a used Toyota for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps, but was the Toyota’s engine bay lined in gold?  Huh?  Huh!!??  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  

    Haha…While I wouldn’t kick either of these two cars out of my garage….one is my ultimate unicorn car (still haven’t seen one in person) and the other is not (though, I haven’t seen one of them in person either…).

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