A large four-door limousine manufactured primarily for Japanese domestic market. This flagship car first appeared in 1967. Until 1997, when the Century received some major redesigning, the initial models came with minor tweaks and modifications. The name of the vehicle is taken from the 100th birth anniversary of the Toyota’s founder, Sakichi Toyoda. Since 1967, the vehicle was offered with a V8 engine one, but after redesigning in 1997, a new V12 engine was introduced to the Century which is still belong to the Century.
The Century is a luxury car that is often utilized by royalty, the Prime Minister of Japan, senior government leaders and high level executive businessmen. The design of the Century is almost a hand-made and is therefore manufactured in small numbers. Toyota Century competes with Austin Princess/Daimler DS420, ZIS/ZIL, Chinese Red Flag, Rolls-Royce and Maybach limousines. The Century features wing-mirrors fitted on the wings or fenders which was a common trait in older grand models. Although, Century resembles Toyota Crown Majesta in its role as a flagship car yet with some modern and contemporary looks so as to entice the young customers.
Keeping in view the Japanese Imperial Family, Toyota has offered a special edition called the Toyota Century Royal, for the members of the Imperial Family and hence, serves the similar function as that of the Bentley State Limousine done for the British Royal Family. The Toyota Century Royal features wool cloth upholstery, granite running board steps and a special Japanese rice paper headlining. Originally, it was ordered to build five units of Toyota Century Royal but high production costs limited it to four units. This vehicle is limited to the Imperial Household and is considered as the replacement vehicle for the 30 year old Nissan Prince Royal limousine.
Since the appearance of first production unit, the exterior designing of the vehicle has almost remained the same with slightest of modifications. The reason why it has retained its class is because of its professed social status as “preferred vehicle denoting conservative success”. Its black finished looks are considered iconic in the Asian markets. Nissan President is considered its one of the closest rivals and Mitsubishi Debonair also shared the same reputation around 1960s and 1970s.
First Generation (1967–1997)
The first generation Century was based on Crown Eight that was introduced in 1964 and powered by a 2.6-L V8 Toyota 3V engine. The first generation Century received the upgraded version of the engine, 3.0-L 3V. The engine was upgraded again in 1973 to 3.4-L 4V-U followed by further upgradation in 1982 as 4.0 L 5V-EU. First generation Century also saw an L-Type extended version of Century which was 5270 mm (207.5 inch) long with a wheelbase of 3010 mm (118.5 inch).
Second Generation (1997-Present)
Second generation Century was a completely redesigned model introduced in 1997. The second generation model received a 280 PS (206 kW or 276 hp) 5.0-L 1GZ-FE V12 offered with 5-speed automatic at first but later received a 6-speed intelligent transmission. It is the only Japanese vehicle with front-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive having V12 engine.