At Amelia, there’s quite a lot going on and if you blink, you will miss a lot. The show over at one of the other large hotels, the Festivals of Speed, was in full swing on Saturday afternoon in the ultra-strong Florida sun, and I discovered a few cars at the show which I’m unlikely to ever see again. One of them was a 6×6 Mercedes-Benz, which I will cover at a later date. This car, however, is one that almost no one has ever heard of, unless they’ve lived in Japan and had some obscenely wealthy friends (or friends in the Yakuza). Meet the Toyota Century–or the Japanese equivalent of a Maybach, from the Eighties.
Toyota still makes these even today, but what we are looking at here is one of the most obscure and most straitlaced cars Toyota has produced since the Sixties. The Century is designed to be a cut above the Lexus LS series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. These were pretty much designated as chaffuer-driven cars, and were bought by captains of industry and plenty of crime bosses. The Century is built and positioned to be a competitor to those cars but it is not considered a sign of extreme excess–rather, it does blend in with traffic due to its subdued styling and traditional shape.
The interior is where the Century’s purpose becomes a serious reality. In 1990, digital instruments were in full swing across the industry, but Toyota took it a step further in the Century, with a digital readout for the tach, a full litany of warning lights, and almost every feature that would appear in a 1995 S600. The rear seats are fully adjustable, with their own radio controls, a fully integrated telephone and cassette tape recording system, and adjustable side and rear window curtains. After spending some time in the rear seat of this incredible Toyota, I gained quite a lot of respect for anyone who owns one of these–this is a very special automobile. Enjoy the photos.
-Albert S. Davis