The Century. Many Toyota owners in Singapore are not even aware of the existence of this model. It’s a car we’ve talked about in the past, and one that clearly shows that the Toyota brand does deliver widely different grades of products.
Toyota calls the Century the Best Car in the World. And we’re quite convinced of this claim. There have only been 3 generations of the car since 1967. The hand-built nature of these vehicles make them extremely expensive to produce. They’re essentially the Rolls-Royce of Japan, and a product Toyota takes so much pride in that they’ve kept it available only for domestic consumption.
For this latest 3rd generation model, new technologies have emerged. But many traditions have been kept alive.
Its birthplace, for instance, has been the Higashi-Fuji plant of Toyota Motor East Japan. And since the beginning, each Century has been hand built to the highest standards.
At this factory, there is no real assembly line nor any industrial sounds of machinery. Each car is built by a few expert craftsmen in five steps:
A Few Interesting Highlights
One of the most distinguishing design features of the Century are the character lines that run along both flanks. These are made using a traditional Japanese method of chamfering called “kichomen”.
A very counter-intuitive move must be done in order to properly put on the doors of a Century. Because the vehicle’s doors are so heavy once finished, they are misaligned when initially mounted on the body. It takes an expert to make sure the character line matches up perfectly with the doors by the end of the assembly.
The final inspection is carried out by manually checking that each and every panel is aligned perfectly. This again is done with minimal to no use of automated machinery.
Unlike a typical coach-built car from Europe, the Toyota Century isn’t offered in ‘any colour under the sun’. You have precisely FOUR colour options, with black being its signature colour.
The particular shade of black is called ‘Kamui’ and it is applied using a unique process. First of all, the car gets 7 coats of paint, instead of 4. The final clear coat also has a black pigment to add to the depth of the colour.
Between each application of paint, the car is wet-sanded three times. This gives the Century a perfectly smooth undercoat with a mirror-like finish.
Since the 2nd generation Century was introduced in 1997, Toyota have made it a habit of keeping history books on each and every car produced at the plant. These books have an account of every inspection made during the car’s assembly, including the name of the person who conducted the inspection.
This story was adopted from an article on Toyota’s Press site.
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