Toyota recently introduced the all new Century. This is a big deal. The Toyota Century is the most exclusive car in Japan. Introduced in 1967 and named for the 100th birthday of company founder Sakichi Toyoda, the Century defines top-tier Japanese luxury, the kind reserved for heads of state, chief executive officers, and Yakuza bosses. It is so iconic as a status symbol that it is exempt from stringent national restrictions on vehicle and engine size. It cannot even be purchased in a typical dealership, but only at specialized stores, and only by invitation. Toyota Century blends the concepts of legacy and evolution and carries of master craftsmanship and high-quality monozukuri (all-encompassing manufacturing).
Stately, formal, and very conservative, the model has gone through only two generations in the 50 years since its inception. This is an eon in the automotive world, where a standard car generally lasts just six or seven years. Even the Rolls-Royce Phantom, which evolves at a glacial pace, recently saw generational change after a dozen model years.
While Toyota has had great success selling luxury cars to Americans via its upscale Lexus division, the Century has never been available in the U.S. market. But that hasn’t stopped collectors and obsessives, who mine the internet for automotive unobtainium, from bringing them into the country. While American regulations preclude the import of most contemporary foreign-market vehicles, any car that is more than 25 years old can be brought over with impunity. While this leaves out the 12-cylinder Century II, which was first available only 20 years ago, in 1997, first-generation Centuries from 1992 or before are now fair game, and they have become increasingly sought after.
“The Century is definitely a car worthy of collection, and there are a handful floating around in the US,” says Hsu. “As more Americans become aware of its special place in Japanese society, we’re sure to see more here.”
Brad Phillips is one of those American Century fetishists. Phillips manages private client services for vintage automotive insurance and valuation company Hagerty, working with collectors who have vehicular assets in the more-than-eight-figure range. He owns a slew of British, Italian, and American cars. But he couldn’t be more ecstatic about his Century. So much so that he took his 1985 Century on a 3,100-mile road trip this summer. Despite the complete unobtainability of spare parts, he would do it all over again.
“Everybody goes nuts for it. I don’t care if they’re in a Ferrari or a Camaro. They just want to know what it is because they’ve never seen one before,” Phillips says of the Century’s appeal. “This car is listed for $12,000, and I paid less than that for it. I don’t know what other car you can buy for the money that has that kind of status and uniqueness.”
It won’t be surprising to see a Century on Nigerian roads pretty soon. Toyota Century made its global debut in 1967 to commemorate the 100th birthday of Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyota Group. The luxury sedan has been one of the most popular chauffer-driven cars in Japan for over 50 years and now the company has unveiled the new 3rd generation of Toyota Century that has seen its first full model change in 21 years. For the first time Toyota Century gets a hybrid system as well.
Courtesy: Financialexpress, BloombergRead Full Story