Toyota Century Royal | Lexus | Top Toyota’s car

14 Feb 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Toyota Century

Tony Davis

Toyota’s Century limousine is even posher than a Lexus.

It’s actually the Toyota Century Royal, a monumental limousine built for the Japanese Imperial Household.

Stretching more than six metres, weighing about three tonnes and powered by a 5.0-litre V12, it dwarfs any other car coming out of Toyota City.

Well, it would do, if it came out of Toyota City, but apparently it’s built under contract by the Kanto Auto Works subsidiary in Shizuoka. Toyota itself isn’t perhaps set up for runs of less than a kazillion and the Century Royal production total stands at approximately four.

The Century Royal dwarfs other Toyotas and most other sedans. Motorcade footage makes it look like a normal car that, due to a computer glitch, has been built on a different scale to everything else.

Its bonnet and boot plateaus about halfway up everyone else’s windscreens.

Features include suicide doors at the rear and granite steps so that the royal feet can step in and out on a solid bit of igneous rock rather than vulgar man-made surfaces.

The head-lining is rice paper with inset lights to give the appearance, or at least ambience, of a Japanese stateroom.

The Toyota Century Royal was presented to the Emperor in 2006, replacing some rather ancient Nissan Prince Royals.

Although a very limited edition, the imperial jalopy is based on the standard Century, which remains the top car from Toyota, hard to fathom though that might be.

The Century was first seen in 1967 and, when it received its one and only update (thus far) 30 years later, it was cleverly restyled to look almost exactly the same.

The original had a 3.0-litre V8 and was shaped a bit like a Russian copy of a 1964 Lincoln.

The slightly smoother bodywork of 1997 cloaked four extra cylinders and a couple of extra litres.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Cars, even the standard Century sits above any Lexus, though only in the Japanese domestic market where everything is just a little bit curious.

Despite an unlimited colour choice, most Centurys are painted black, with doilies on the seats, white lace curtains and a gloved-and-capped driver doing the honours for some aged bizzoid or government hack in the back.

By some reports, the Century is also favoured by the Yakuza criminal groups. That makes sense, as they work closely with the government at times.

The Century is priced above the Lexus line-up, with the rather idiosyncratic marketing line that it is the sort of product ”acquired by long, hard work in a plain but formal suit”.

Most publicity seems to be about quietness and the whole rear-drive package rides on air suspension that gives ”a calmness of a type unequalled in the world”.

A rare English-language promotional video says, ”The essence of the Century’s hospitality is epitomised by the rear seats”.

These leaning, tilting, massaging rear pews are linked to the doors. When they are opened (automatically, of course), the seats return to their standard position for easy ingress and egress.

Oddly, there’s a trapdoor in the front passenger seat so the bigwig in the back can stretch his legs even further.

Toyota sells only a few hundred Centurys a year (600 by one report) but the V12 is available in no other model. Weird or what?

And if one car in this odd micro-niche is not enough, Nissan also made the V8-powered President from the mid-1960s, while Mitsubishi produced the Debonair, which looked like a Japanese knock-off of a Russian copy of a 1964 Lincoln.

The Nissan died of natural causes last year, the Debonair went front-wheel-drive with semi-contemporary styling in the 1980s, then was marched behind the shed and put out of everyone else’s misery in 1999.

The Century alone survives.

18 comments so far

but how fast is it around the nürburgring?

Commenter Big Brother Date and time June 03, 2011, 11:02AM

Weird! I was just yesterday trawling the usual classifieds looking for a Toyota Century (good luck finding a ‘Royal’ anywhere!); there seem to be only two for sale in the country, both 80’s models that still look identical to the pic above. Would be an interesting car to own!

Commenter JB56 Location Bilgola West Date and time June 03, 2011, 1:57PM

God on Japan for keeping their automotive traditions alive. Why can’t we build the FJ Holden with a V12?

Commenter ssscrambled Location Ashfield Date and time June 03, 2011, 2:49PM

The AE86 TRUENO SPRINTER BY BUNTA FUJIWARA HANDS DOWN is the BEST ever TOYOTA, for its renowned success at beating the S15 and RX7s in drift competitions despite the 20 plus years of age in the car itself.

Commenter Cyber Akuma Location Not Europe Date and time June 03, 2011, 2:50PM

My friend owns a Toyota Century (the latest, V12 version). and having taken a couple of trips in the back seat, I can unequivocably agree with all the marketing hype about the rear seating. Exquisit luxury for a late 90s car.

He then later ripped a mad skid down a drag strip (official, ANDRA approved track, before anyone gets up in arms).

Never before or since have i seen such luxury act so childishly.

Unfortuantely the Century only features an open diff, so said skid was only a single legger.

As for the engine – well i have seen the 1GZ-FE transplanted into a couple of other vehicles, and in true toyota style it is over-engineered to the nth degree. A seriously powerful engine with brute strength waiting to be unleashed. tamed to tasteful grace.

Commenter Weazel Location Sydney Date and time June 03, 2011, 2:56PM

So, for JUST $4,000 you CAN add a BOLT on TURBO and win BOTH the Trafic Light Grand Prix and OUTDRIFT all of that EURO trash on the SNOW RACE TRACKS of perisher.


Commenter Acting like an Akuma Location Monza Date and time June 03, 2011, 2:58PM

God on Japan: yes, good on them.


Commenter ssscrambled Location Ashfield Date and time June 03, 2011, 3:02PM


If drivers complain of the COMMODORE V6 Gasket sounds like it’s going to break at high revs, what hope in hell is there that a V12 HOLDEN engine will be as reliable?

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