Akio Toyoda Built This Reinforced SUV Convertible One-Off for His Sumo Wrestler Friend
While other auto manufacturers are worrying about a new Pope-mobile, or Fast & Furious product placement, the Toyota Chairman is building one-off custom cars for his friends. In this case, Akio Toyoda’s friend happens to be retired sumo wrestler Hakuhō Shō.
First thing’s first, a necessary bit of history. Toyota only began offering its luxury Lexus brand in the Japanese Domestic Market in 2005. For most of Toyota’s history, the brand has been such a point of national pride in Japan, that even the wealthiest citizens wanted one. So for the domestic market, Toyota has always built top-trim luxury sedans with names such as “Crown” and “Century.”
Sound familiar? That’s because Toyota is finally offering the Crown sedan in North America. Meanwhile, Japan’s wealthiest have turned to the new Century SUV. This SUV starts at the equivalent of $160,000 USD. And it earns every penny of that price. Its fit and finish is comparable to a Bentley or Rolls Royce.
North American Toyota fans will find the century’s layout fascinating. The huge SUV shares a unibody chassis with the Grand Highlander. It shares a 3.5-liter V6 with the Lexus TX 550h+ with a PHEV setup which makes a total of 406 horsepower, delivered to all four wheels through an AWD system labeled eFour.
The automaker unveiled the new luxury SUV in September 2023, but Akio Toyoda must have already been hard at work on a one-off for his friend. Akio is the grandson of Kiichiro Toyoda, who is the founder of Toyota. In addition to having served as Toyota’s CEO, Akio Toyoda is a racing enthusiast who founded Gazoo Racing and even competed in the 24 Hours of Nürburing under a pseudonym.
Hakuhō Shō is a retired sumo wrestler and chairman of the Japan Sumo Association. He is also reportedly a close friend of Akio Toyoda. The Japan Sumo Association is celebrating its 100 year anniversary, so Hakuhō Shō asked Akio Toyoda for a special vehicle for the parade. What better vehicle to celebrate a 100 year anniversary than the Toyota Century?
Toyota reportedly stiffened the suspension of an SUV to support the weight of wrestlers. Then it removed the roof, built a platform in the back, and lifted the bench seat. The resulting white-on-white Toyota Century certainly looks parade-ready.
You can see Akio Toyoda gift the SUV to Hakuhō Shō in the video below: