Brought back to the public attention this year with the V8 hybrid model, this Century that has made its way to UK shores is one of the second-generation V12 cars. An early one too, as 1997 was the year the second model arrived. 30 years after the first one. Presumably there was some surprise at an entire replacement for that just two decades after it was introduced...
Perhaps the best bit of the Century, however, was its unpretentiousness - this was not, and never has been, a showy and flashy luxury car. To many it will probably look like a fancy minicab of some kind, with only a very select few identifying it as one of the most fascinating cars to ever leave Japan.
This particular Century is the first we've ever seen on PistonHeads, and there surely can't be many here at all. It has covered a fairly modest 56,000 miles in its 20 years on this planet, which sounds inconsequential for a car of such engineering integrity and focus. You best hope it's reliable though, because sourcing parts for a V12 luxury saloon sold only in Japan might prove difficult in the UK. Beyond upgrades to the stereo, nav and parking sensors - presumably some of those were to make them work in the UK - it's a completely standard Century too.
See, the Toyota can be made to look decent value with this V12 Mercedes S600, for sale at £12,495 with 86,000 miles. But you could also have a V12, long-wheelbase 7 Series for £6k, or an actual Japanese 7 Series - with just 13,000 miles - for £8,940. Finally, a British Rolls-Royce isn't miles away from the Japanese remake - this 1989 Silver Spirit II is £15,000.
But none of those are called Century. None will be as rare. None personify the Japanese attention to detail and fastidious engineering effort like this car - it makes a Lexus LS look like a Micra. It's going to take some effort to maintain, and nobody will ever know what it is, but we love a curio at PH. And there's nothing that better represents 'curio' than a Century, even in the Toyota Other Models section of our classifieds.
SPECIFICATION - TOYOTA CENTURY
Engine: 4,996cc, V12
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 276@5,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 355@4,000rpm
First registered: 1997
Mileage: 56,000 miles
Price new: 9,250,000 yen
Price now: £12,995
See the original advert here.