How the Toyota Century Rivals Rolls-Royce We get the rare opportunity to tour the plant that makes the ultra-lux Century "We sold 27." Toyota chief engineer Masato Tanabe is curt with his answer. I had asked if Toyota had plans to sell its recently Redesigned Century—the chauffeur-driven, ultra luxury sedan that's been in production since 1967—in markets outside Japan. He first, quickly, answered, "No." Then I ask why not. Because, Tanabe-san explains (through a translator), they tried to do so with the previous generation. And it flopped.
The second gen Century launched in 1997 with a 5.0-liter V-12. Yes, a Japanese V-12. For a single car model. Not even Lexus could borrow it. Toyota offered that Century for sale in Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Australia, and a few Middle Eastern countries. One hundred left-hand-drive examples were built, with some winding up in the U.S. to shuttle Toyota's local executives.
But selling even 100 units was a bridge too far. Even through the cheery-voiced translator, I can sense Tanabe's bitterness at the rest of the world's miscomprehension of his baby. Yes, sure, he also rued the loss of what had to be a medium-sized fortune. But really, the rest of the world simply doesn't understand the sheer genius and excellence of the Toyota Century.
The V-8-powered first-gen Century was in production from 1967 to 1997. The V-12 second-gen version spanned two decades, from 1997 to 2017. The third-generation Century bowed last year. It sports the 5.0-liter V-8 and hybrid system out of the previous-generation Lexus LS 600h L. If you'd like to buy one, the price is $180,000. Source:MotorTrend