Toyota Century: Spotted

Lurking in the maze that is the PH classifieds is a fascinating sub-category: under 'Toyota' is 'Other Models' and contained in there are 183 incredible automobiles. Alright, perhaps they're not all incredible. Most of them are C-HRs. But look at what can be found: an excellent 80s Land Cruiser, whatever a Toyota Noah is, a manual Soarer and this, a Toyota Century.

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...

It's a remarkable creation, the Century. It's Japan's first and only front-engined, rear-drive V12, and indeed the 1GZ-FE engine was made specifically for the Century. The attention lavished on its creation is incredible for a car that's now entering its third decade: should a problem occur, the V12 could run on six cylinders. The door handles operated electrically because mechanical operation was again perceived as too rowdy. There was air suspension, six airbags and massage seats, of course.

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.

Attempting to assess the value of this Century - for sale at £12,995, or £11,500 without the 'J14 APN' plate - is both difficult and largely redundant: if you want the car, little else is going to match it. And if you want a German uberbarge, a big Toyota won't cut the mustard. Still, no harm in looking...

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.


Engine: 4,996cc, V12
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 276@5,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 355@4,000rpm
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1997
Mileage: 56,000 miles
Price new: 9,250,000 yen
Price now: £12,995

See the original advert here.



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Comments (78) Join the discussion on the forum

  • HRCM 16 Jan 2018

    No fanx

  • Jimmy Recard 16 Jan 2018

    Fantastic. I would love one of these V12 versions. There's something much more interesting than an S-Class in there.

    I'd save the cash and not have the crap number plate though

  • easytiger123 16 Jan 2018

    Spent 8 years in Tokyo and been a passenger in a few. I seem to recall most of them had cloth seats, and there was a latch on the back of the front passenger seat that allowed the passenger in the rear to open a hatch and stretch out to stick his feet onto the front passenger seat. Looks like this one also has that feature.

  • Loyly 16 Jan 2018

    This is magnificent. I love the understated, Town Car style exterior and the simple but lavish interior. It looks very plush. It would need a specialist buyer in the UK though, the market for buyers for aging Japanese luxury chauffeur cars is pretty small.

  • alorotom 16 Jan 2018

    Very surprised at the leather and not velour!!

    Like it a lot but don’t think I could live with one

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