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This Little Toyota Inspired The Mighty McLaren F1

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The rare JDM coupe is coming up for auction this month in Arizona.

Inspiration can come from any source. Gordon Murray knew that when he designed the legendary McLaren F1, borrowing its engine from BMW, its carbon monocoque from Formula One... and its innovative dihedral doors from this little Toyota, of all things.

It's a 1990 Toyota Sera, a tiny hatchback coupe even smaller – much smaller – than today's Yaris. Toyota built fewer than 16,000 of them in the early 1990s, with nearly all of them registered in Japan. But this one's coming up for auction right here in the United States, fully certified to drive on American roads.

The Sera was, in most regards, a rather unassuming little JDM coupe. It packed a 1.5-liter inline-four good for all of 108 horsepower, channeled to the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or (like this one) a four-speed automatic transmission. Its one party trick were its butterfly doors – an element now common on exotic hypercars, but which, up to that point, had only been seen on race cars.

As obscure as it was even in its home market, the Sera was an even rarer sight outside of Japan. But Gordon Murray famously saw one in the UK when he was designing the F1.

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"I drove past it everyday," Murray recalled to Car magazine in 2012. "Eventually we borrowed a Sera and the design started from there." The rest, as they say, is history, and the door design has made its way onto numerous supercars since – from the Ferrari Enzo and LaFerrari to the BMW i8 and everything McLaren has made since.

Most of us will never be able to afford one of those, but the source of their portals' inspiration could be within reach. Imported in 2015 once US Federal regulations allowed it, Barrett-Jackson will auction off this little Toyota in Scottsdale this month.

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