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The Legend of the Toyota Century

todayApril 20, 2023 319 5

Background

With the recent passing of Shoichiro Toyoda, the son of Toyota Founder Kiichiro Toyoda, having the opportunity to document such a beautiful part of the company’s history, and Mr. Toyoda’s dedication of its most elite vehicle to his father and founder, is an honor. This article is dedicated to Mr. Toyoda and I am humbled to be able to document the true legacy that he left behind. To Mr. Toyoda and his family – Thank you for your contribution to the automotive culture that I and many others have been incredibly impacted by, and for pioneering technologies that have altered the entire Automotive Industry all over the world.

May his legacy live on forever.  

As a true Toyota Enthusiast, the technology and productions from the car maker have always been one step ahead of the rest. Toyota’s reputation in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s for having more advanced options in audio, comfort, and even the performance breakthroughs of the 1980s, when they released the first straight 6 twin turbo engine (that would push the bar for all Japanese auto makers and inspire legendary engines like the 2JZ and RB series) had always fascinated me, but it was only recently that I learned of Toyota’s flagship in luxury. 

A friend of mine who is also a Japanese Automotive Cultural guru with more of a VIP Style, Nax, recently schooled me on the original “Japanese Limo”, and by schooled me I mean actually popped up with one and showed me all the bells and whistles. Needless to say, this car seriously intrigued me and I had to learn more. After quite a bit of research, I learned even more about the historical significance of the Toyota Century, and I couldn’t believe I had never known of such an important part of the Toyota history. 

The Toyota Century was originally introduced in 1967 as a direct homage to the founder of Toyota, Kiichiro Toyoda, who was born in 1867. Named the Century because of the 100-year birthday of Mr. Toyoda, this vehicle was made to be the epitome of everything luxury and immediately became a common transport for Diplomats and Executives, not only in Japan, but in very selective other countries, as even exports were limited. The original Century featured a V8 and elegant features, but it was so ahead of its time, that it did not get a redesign until 1997, when the second generation was released, and it was both a beauty and a beast. 

To this day, the 2nd Generation Toyota Century, also known as the G50, is the only Front Engine, Rear wheel drive V12 car ever to be produced in Japan. Although it is quite powerful, the engine’s silence keeps that true luxurious feel. Paired with a television, walkman, reading lights, layout bed, massagers, heated seats, ash trays, and so many other comfort features, along with airbag suspension, it was designed for high-level executives with a driver, and Toyota did that completely on purpose. To keep its elite status, a road-tax was even placed on any private owners that had to have a Century and exports were severely limited. 

So fast forward to today, how in the world did I just have my boys driving me around South Florida like I was a Japanese High-Level Executive? 

Complete dream by the way I was kinda freaking out. This wasn’t my first encounter with the car, but the more I realized the true history of the Century – the more appreciation I had for this incredible experience!  Nax, being like family – let me live out my dream of being a Toyota Executive for an hour (while I’m pretty sure he just laughed in his head) but – if anyone can capture and document the true ground-breaking legacy of this car, it’s going to be me!

Anyways, my legendary friend Nax is the owner of Fortune Minds Garage in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, and one of most reputable members of the well-known Liberty VIP Car Club. He also has founded the Fortune Minds crew and is considered family to TunerEvo. 

The Century was purchased by a good friend of Nax, Greg, another reputable member of Liberty VIP who had already built almost all of the big body VIP Japanese cars, including the Lexus LS400, an LS460 with an LS500 front conversion, a 92 Celcior, an 08 Lexus GS350, and a 1999 GS300. He wanted the biggest, baddest, big body, Japanese Luxury car ever made, the Toyota Century. 

He originally found the car with the help of JMoto Imports back in 2020, but it was not yet legally able to be imported and did not make it to the U.S. until March of 2022. While waiting for the Century’s arrival, they began collecting all of the pieces to make the Century the VIP Legend that it deserved to be. By the time it arrived, Nax and Greg already had the full 7 piece Junction Produce Body Kit, exhaust, and air suspension system from Airtekk. Although they left it stock for a bit, in late 2022, Nax and Fortune Minds Garage began modifying all of these pieces, as well as adding LED Headlights, the JDM tag boxes, and rewiring of some light options. A car like this would not be complete without the perfect wheels, and the VIP BBS option they selected took 9 months to obtain, but were well worth the wait.  The car was officially debuted at the 2023 Riverside Chattanooga show before returning to Greg in Atlanta, where he plans to just drive it around and enjoy it for the legend that it is, the Toyota Century. D

Catch Nax and some of the other Fortune Minds cars at our upcoming TunerEvo – The Setup event in Orlando Florida this upcoming weekend!

Written by: Jtezza

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