Storage Yard Classics: 1988-97 Toyota Century VG40 – Half A Millennium’s Worth

The first generation Toyota Century was made, by hand and in limited quantities, for 30 years (1967-97). Early cars are now very rare, but there are a few later ones still hanging about. The rich and powerful can also be nostalgic, I guess. But most old Centuries end up being broken down for spares, at least that was my guess. I just had never seen evidence of a Century recycling centre – until just a couple weeks ago.

From the outside, there was really no way to tell this apart from any other storage lot. Tightly-packed boring modern cars, maybe a couple exotics – nothing exciting to the casual observer. But I hunt CCs for sport; that area was full of car parks like this, and many had yielded something interesting. I was about to give up and take off when the unmistakable gleam of a chromed fender mirror caught my eye. There was something in there, deep within the forest of parked cars. I made my way through to a small clearing and came face-to-grille with…

Five generation 1 Centuries. It was like discovering the Valley of the Kings or the royal crypt of some European monarchy. Here lied a half-millennium of VG40s, the later model 4-litre Centuries, all squeezed together like so much tinned fish.

What could I do but snap away? It was a challenge to catch them all together in the same photo, as there was very little space to maneuver around this gaggle of old gals.

I wrote pretty much all I wanted to about these cars already (see related post section at the end), so the pictures will be doing most of the talking in this one.

One of those was not like the others – I have no idea when exactly they changed the shape of the Century Fried Chicken emblem from landscape to portrait, but they surely did.

Let’s not dilly-dally and get up close and personal with these straight-laced gingerbread houses of ill-repute. Some of these cars look like they have more frilly stuff on display than at a Victoria’s Secret.

You do have the option of beige mouse-fur without doilies, you know, if you must.

They say that Japanese folks don’t like leather – well, only one of these Centuries had a hide interior. Still, that’s more than none. The overall impression of that one though is quite clinical. More akin to a Crown taxi than a Century.

Well, bring on the red shag carpeting and cover me in doilies! That’s the ticket, isn’t it? Nothing like mindless poor taste – but it takes a lot of money to look this cheap.

I understand that some of these had a tough end-of-life. After a decade in the service of a CEO or a grand hotel, they would get sold for a fistful of yen to the dodgier element of Japanese society – folks who wear tattoos and occasionally might be missing a finger or two.

This bangerdom of the Century is where the G50 (the second generation Century, 1997-2018) is starting to be now, its famous Toyota 5-litre V12 notwithstanding. I’ve seen a couple have been pressed into taxi service in Tokyo – a most undignified end. But that’s for another post.

These older cars though are past that stage. Any one that still drives one is doing it out of nostalgia or passion for it as a classic. And if they need anything, they will surely be able to find a solution in one of these donors. After all, despite Toyota’s best efforts – and it is their best efforts – it seems Centuries don’t last a hundred years


Related post:


CC Twofer: 1995 Toyota Century VG 40 & VG 45 Type L – Two Flavours Of Top Notch, by T87