AutoArt’s 1:18 beauty is the epitome of Japanese luxury …
To most of us, me included, we think of Toyota car badges like Camry, Corolla and Celica, but Century? Welcome to the luxury limo world, one few of us live in and in the States, the luxo-liner Century is virtually invisible.
But in Japan the car is a symbol of wealth and prestige, what many consider the Rolls-Royce of Japanese cars.
That’s fine, and probably deserved since even Toyota’s Lexus brand garners attention for its near perfect build quality. But with Century it’s not the average Joe or Asahi being chauffeured about. It’s the big money execs and famous folks being driven to their exclusive homes or hotels curtained off in the rear seat.
Despite few of us in the States hearing about it, Century was launched in 1967 as the premier Toyota and happened to coincide with Toyota Industries founder Sakichi Toyoda’s 100 birthday. Get it? Century!
Now AutoArt has gone and created a 2018 Century in 1:18 scale in multiple dignified colors, two offering the limo with curtains hanging in the rear windows. Cool!
A bit of history beyond Century’s origins in 1967, it was the first rear-drive, front-engine Japanese car with a mass-produced V8 and later a V12.
The stately first generation lasted 30 years until the second gen launched in 1997. That was replaced by the third in 2018 and still carries the styling cues of a Lincoln, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and a touch of Rolls. This third gen is the one AutoArt has so deliciously delivered.
Century started on Toyota’s Crown platform, debuting with an aluminum alloy block 2.6-liter V8 generating just 150 horsepower. Remember this was 1967. By 1973 it had a 3.4-liter V8 and in 1992 that was upgraded to a 4.0-liter model. A 2-foot longer limo version arrived in 1989.
The second gen upgraded to Japan’s first V12 making 276 horsepower for the home market and 295 horses for exported models. Along the way automatic climate controls were first used in Century, then reclining rear seats with a massaging feature and power footrest. All those back seat wonders now are available in the large Lexus LS sedan.
Soft-closing doors is another feature first found in Century. These are offered in a variety of high-end sedans now where the doors electronically pull themselves shut once partially closed by the occupants. In back there also is an 11-inch screen and wood trim everywhere, plus the car comes with a noise cancellation system, double-glazed windows, and four mufflers. It’s quiet inside!
This third gen has all that and a more powerful 5.0-liter V8 with hybrid system to boost gas mileage from what had been 24 to 32 mpg. Power jumps to 425 horses and is put to the pavement via an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) for smoothness and efficiency.
Century now rides on a massive 122-inch wheelbase, is 210 inches long, weighs about 5,200 pounds, rides on a revised air suspension and is bathed in seven layers of paint. To assure luxury build quality Toyota assembles (much by hand) just 50 a month.
Oh, and you’d need about $180,000 to buy one, if they were sold in the US. They are not.
What strikes you about this Seika Radiant Silver Metallic model is the chrome, from the finely presented narrow vertical bars in the grille to the trim around windows and front and rear bumpers, including lower cladding along the rocker panels. All align perfectly to carry the chrome theme nose to tail.
But the interior if fabulous. Open up all four doors and the rock star interior features lacy gray curtains in the rear side windows and back windshield. On the real car these are crocheted lace and they reflect that look here, but are wisely embedded in the clear plastic windows so as not to soil over time or be damaged by handling.
The curtains are partially open so I suppose the celebrity, or his or her handler, will have to shut them for privacy.
Beyond the curtains, the right-hand-drive Century features wood-look trim atop the doors, door armrests, seatbacks and dash. It’s a bit shiny, but still impressive.
All the detailing looks realistic in here too from the big rear seat console with glass-like touchscreen and big screen behind and between the front seats, even a couple of air ducts above that screen. The dash is loaded with buttons, knobs, a big info screen, and detailed digital driver’s screen. Even the gearshift knob is sufficiently thick and includes appropriate markings for each gear in the gate. The black steering wheel has a thick three-spoke hub.
Seats are gray and resembled leather, which is optional on the car. Wool seats are standard as they are quieter to sit in, and get out of, than leather, so preferred in Japan. No rude noises allowed!
AutoArt includes shoulder harnesses with photo-etched metal clasps and mold in the appropriate power adjustment buttons on the side of each seat’s lower cushion.
Flip up the hood and like most of today’s cars, the Century’s V8 and hybrid system are covered with a gray/silver plastic shroud with the remainder of the under-hood area covered in black plastic, so no fluid bottles, dipsticks, etc. are visible. Pretty boring, but realistic.
Note, the hood is released via a tiny black lever under the car’s nose, otherwise latches in place.
Naturally the hood, trunk lid and all four doors open, plus those front wheels are steerable, actually turning the steering wheel.
Other exterior features include realistic taillights and jewel-like headlights with each lamp featuring twin rectangular settings with twin bulbs in each lamp. There also are horizontal bar-shaped turn signals embedded in the front bumper.
Atop the hood is a fine gothic style C emblem that represents the Century name while centered in the grille and on the trunk’s face between the taillights is the gold phoenix logo, the traditional Fushichō badge that has its origins in Sinospheric mythology. Hey, that’s what I read. On the real car it takes an artist six weeks to hand engrave these. Wow!
That Century gothic C is also in badges on the C-pillars with the term Hybrid below. I tried magnifying these to see the word. I can tell it’s there, but hard to read. Hope your eyes are better than mine.
Tires are treaded, but not branded and the sharp sunburst style wheel covers are chromed and feature the phoenix logo inside the center ring.
All these features come at a price, but then this is a luxury limo, with an MSRP of $250.
Silver not your thing? The Century also is available in black with curtains, or black or white without. C’mon, you gotta have the curtains.
There’s also a sportier (sort of) GRMN model, the abbreviation standing for Gazoo Racing (Toyota’s long-time team) Meister of Nürburgring, costing $10 less and a black version for the US market, although still right-hand drive, for $230.
Vital DC Stats: Toyota Century (w/curtains)
Stock No.: 78770