Japanese automakers take detail work very seriously. The Toyota Century is proof of this fact. A Toyota which rivals Rolls-Royce.
One of the main issues with the Century? You cannot buy one outside of Japan. Coming in at around $180,000, the Century is speculated to compete with Rolls-Royce in terms of product quality, despite serving their target market at the cost of a used, 12-year-old Drophead Phantom Coupe.
The Century, like Rolls-Royce vehicles, is hand-assembled with minimal machine intervention. This includes hand-painting and final assembly.
In the saddle of luxury
The Century is a Toyota-made limousine, with each vehicle requiring hours worth of woodworking between the wooden panels and the hood ornament. For example, 45 hours, give or take, are needed just to carve the ‘Celestial Rooster’ hood ornament. Paint color options include navy blue, black, burgundy, and silver.
The overall dimensions of the Century give it a smaller stature than the Phantom, Ghost, and Wraith. Unfortunately, specifications for the interior room in these vehicles are unavailable, though likely comparable within the same class of luxury car.
Toyota has the best paint in the world?
Only four people are trusted to paint the Century, two apprentices have been selected as well. These individuals have been trained to create a flawless, hand-made mirror finish through lacquering, hand wet-sanding, and many other techniques to ensure the paint is better than any other luxury car on the market, according to MotorTrend’s Toyota Features account.
Toyota uses seven materials and countless coats to ensure the exact finish it wants. The paint and internal fixtures are intended to connect passengers to the Celestial Mirror.
It certainly helps that several locations on the Century are polished to such a bright finish, executives can straighten their ties or other appearance-related facets in the vehicle.
What’s under the hood?
Toyota developed a V12 engine for the second-generation Century—yes, a Japanese V12 actually happened, though exclusively for one luxury car.
No other vehicles were allowed to use the 5.0L V12. This is the model of Century which was placed for sale internationally—unfortunately, only 27 were sold outside of Japan.
Since the market was so unreceptive to the Century, Toyota has canceled international sales of the ultra-lux vehicle. One thing is made clear by the number of drivers who have never personally driven their Century—90 percent, that is—it is a passenger’s luxury car, not a driver’s car.
Inside the Century is a full-wool interior with the option for leather seats. The Japanese automaker prefers wool, a more polite upholstery material for the interior, though it understands the luxury draw of leather upholstery. Inside of the Century lies a consistent interior—no analysis paralysis from too many choices, you only have one inside.
Leather or wool? While the Drophead Phantom may come with an optional humidor and countless other add-ons, these facets can easily take away from the consistency and quality provided by a precise and repeatable process. As with any other form of manufacturing, fewer moving parts make assembly much easier.
Are custom Toyota Century cars available?
In short, yes, but likely only if you are the emperor of Japan or some similarly important individual (or organization!) Customized versions of this luxury car come without a published price tag, based solely on the cost of customizations and labor needed for the vehicle and any markup Toyota seeks to place on it.
The Emperor of Japan and the royal family have five heavily customized V12 Century Royals, each is reported to be closely comparable to the Presidential Limo, with one new vehicle having been commissioned for an imperial coronation ceremony, the first convertible Century ever made. In accordance with ceremonial requirements, the passengers must be readily visible at all times and from nearly all angles during the parade.
The Toyota Century is a masterwork vehicle created by a trusted few in the company at its Higashi-Fuji plant. Comparisons drawn between Rolls-Royce and Toyota in the ultra-lux realm make sense, given the quality, craftsmanship, and time-investment for each unit.
One of the biggest differences between the two is price, while other factors include international availability and customization availability.