A Japanese Rolls-Royce?
Japan’s new emperor is to be officially inaugurated in October 2019 and he’ll need a car for this very public occasion. One which is very obviously Japanese and sufficiently regal. Supplying the bespoke transport for this inauguration is Toyota, which is Japan’s largest and most powerful automaker. It marks the transition from the Heisei Era to the Reiwa Era for Japan’s royal family.
Crown Prince Naruhito will ride to his ceremonial duties in October, seated in the back of a Toyota Century. But it won’t be any Century. Toyota has built a special Century convertible for the occasion and if you though that Rolls-Royce was choice transport for royalty, well, not in Japan.
The Century limousine range is only available in Japan’s domestic market. It blends boxy 1980s American boulevard cruiser styling with build quality which is perhaps unrivaled by any other car. Powering the Century is a Lexus V8 hybrid, which means that it can run in virtual silence at parade speed. If the royal family were ever in a hurry, total system output for the 5-litre V8 and its electric motors peaks at 317 kW
Toyota has added a few modifications to the convertible version of its Century, beyond the fabric folding roof. The rear seats have been raised by 40mm, with seatbacks fixed at a 25-degree angle – allowing better viewing of the royals as they glide by during official duties in their motorcade. Despite its ultra-luxury limousine billing, the Century has cloth seats instead of leather, to avoid any ungraceful creaking when whoever is privileged enough to ride in one, sits down.
This is truly a handbuilt car. Its hand-carved grille emblem takes a month and a half to complete and the seven-stage lacquer finishing process is wet sanded by master craftsman. Toyota’s current Century is the third-generation of these rare limousines and the first to feature air-suspension. The royal inauguration convertible is a one-off version of perhaps Japan’s most valuable car.