The Toyota Century is an ultra-luxury sedan produced mainly for the Japanese market, serving as Toyota’s flagship car within Japan; globally the unrelated Lexus LS series is Toyota’s flagship luxury model. Production of the Century began in 1967, and the model received only minor changes until a redesign in 1997. The Century derived its name from the 100th birthday of Sakichi Toyoda (born 14 February 1867), the founder of Toyota Industries. It is often used by the Imperial House of Japan, the Prime Minister of Japan, senior Japanese government leaders, and high-level executive businessmen. The Century is comparable in purpose to the Austin Princess/Daimler DS420, Cadillac Series 70, Mercedes-Benz 600 series, Chinese Red Flag, Rolls-Royce, and Russian ZIS/ZIL limousines.
First generation (G20/G30/G40; 1967–1997)
The original Century was based on the 1964 Crown Eight, which featured the 2.6 L V8 Toyota V engine, and appeared almost two years after the October 1965 introduction of the 4-liter Nissan President. The design remained largely untouched during its 30-year production run, apart from minor cosmetic changes and engine upgrades. This appearance has also inspired the designs of subsequent versions, as it remains desired by its clientele.
- VG20: 3.0 L 3V V8, 1967–1973
- VG21: 3.4 L 4V V8, 1973–1975
- VG30: 3.4 L 4V-U V8, 1975–January 1977
- C-VG30: January 1977–November 1978 (1977 Emissions Standards)
- E-VG35: November 1978–1982 (1978 Emissions Standards)
- VG40: 4.0 L 5V-EU V8, 1982–1997
- VG45: 4.0 L 5V-EU V8 (L-type) 1990–1997
Second generation (G50; 1997–2017)
The Century received a complete redesign in April 1997, although the new model was visually very similar to the previous generation. This model is powered by a 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) 5.0 L 1GZ-FE V12, initially with a 4-speed automatic, until a 6-speed “intelligent” transmission arrived in 2005. It also features air suspension. The Century remains the first and only Japanese front-engine, rear-wheel-drive production car equipped with a V12, and it is Toyota’s first V12 engine. As this is a top level luxury flagship, private owners are comfortable with the yearly road tax bill.
Toyota Century Royal (G51; 2006–2008)
The Toyota Century Royal is the official state car of Emperor of Japan, being a specially prepared Toyota Century. The car was produced at the request of the Japanese Imperial Household Agency, to be used by senior members of the Imperial House of Japan. This special version has wool cloth upholstery, internal granite entry steps and Japanese washi rice paper headlining for the passenger compartment, as well as undisclosed security measures. The front passenger compartment is upholstered in leather. With the introduction of the third generation Century in 2018, the tail lights on the Century Royal are vertical, while the civilian Century maintains horizontal tail lights across the back of the vehicle.
Third generation (G60; 2018–present)
The third generation Century was unveiled at the October 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. The car then went on sale on 22 June 2018, to the top grade Century Limousine at ¥60,000,000. It is to be offered in four exterior colors, with culturally significant names; Kamui Eternal Black, Lake Mashu Shrine Blue Mica, Asuka (Black Ash) Red Mica, and Seika Radiant Silver Metallic. The Century’s production is limited to 50 per month, and is built in a “nearly hand-made” fashion.
Royal Parade Car
On 19 November 2018, the Imperial Household Agency announced a request to provide an open top parade car for the Coronation Ceremony of Naruhito 22 October 2019, which was postponed until 10 November 2019 due to Typhoon Hagibis. The parade has been traditionally called Shukuga Onretsu no Gi. Previously, the only parade car used by the Imperial Household Agency was a 1990 Rolls Royce Corniche, which had been found to be too old and needing repair to bring up to serviceability. The Imperial Household Agency had expressed a desire to have a Japanese automobile manufacturer build or provide a specially prepared open top vehicle, and released an official request On 17 January 2019, it was announced that a Toyota Century would be modified as a convertible for the event. On 19 September 2019, an image of the new convertible was released, showing that it is a four-door convertible with rear conventional doors. The rear seats are 4.0cm higher than the rear seats in the sedan.