JDM Royalty: Here's How The Most Luxurious Japanese Car In The World Is Built


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Jul 13, 2023

JDM Royalty: Here's How The Most Luxurious Japanese Car In The World Is Built

We take an in-depth look at the meticulous process that goes into crafting the most luxurious Japanese car on the planet Toyota is among the top five largest car manufacturers in the world. They mass

We take an in-depth look at the meticulous process that goes into crafting the most luxurious Japanese car on the planet

Toyota is among the top five largest car manufacturers in the world. They mass produce vehicles that cater to everyone with over 10 million vehicles produced every year. From little hatchbacks to large three-row SUVs they have it all. Using the Kaizen method of assembly, Toyota has built an effective process to ensure the best quality control for its vehicles. This has also made the Lexus luxury brand one of the best-built cars in the world. But Toyota takes this a step further with its ultra-luxury car.

The Toyota Century is the most luxurious Japanese car in the world. It is also very exclusive and sold only in the Japanese market. You had to be a top official or a member of the Royal clan to be allowed to buy one new. The Century remains Japan’s only chauffeur-driven luxury car. This means Toyota takes a whole new approach to this vehicle that is way beyond any of its regular models.

The Century is not manufactured on the same assembly line as regular cars, it has its own factory. It is built in Toyota's East Japan Higashi-Fuji plant which is responsible for every Toyota Century produced. Here, there are no assembly lines, electronic noises, or complicated machines. Just a relatively quiet space with some of the most skilled craftsmen who are qualified to build the Century. There are many special processes involved to make the most luxurious Toyota in the world.

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Every vehicle has a distinctive design trait and for the Century it is the strong body line that runs from the full length of the vehicle. Most manufacturing processes would form this using a machine but not here. When the body is stamped, the focus is especially on the body lines on the rear which is about 1.0 cm (0.393701 inch) but they aren’t perfect. The stamping process leaves some subtle pit marks that make these lines dull.

Special craftsmen use a finishing process known as Kichomen. This is a method of chamfering by hand that ensures detailed and accurate workmanship. These special craftsmen use this method to finish and sharpen the body lines by hand. They make use of special hammers and shaping tools to carefully beat the metal into shape. A power sander is also used to grind down imperfections and sharpen the lines. These processes are repeated until the desired angle is achieved.

This skill level for this process is so high that only three people are qualified to do this job. They select and use tools based on years of experience in this craft. It is such a demanding task that needs utmost concentration with the right motions to achieve the best result.

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Luxury cars make use of the best quality materials available and this adds a lot of weight to the vehicle. Toyota is so obsessed with the alignment of the body lines and deliberately misaligned the doors for them to match. This is because when those luxury materials and accessories are added, the weight pulls the doors down causing misalignment. This is accounted for and the doors are slightly raised by a few millimeters.

After doing this, the craftsman checks the doors to make sure the measurements are correct. When the doors are finally assembled, the weight will pull down on the door and the lines will completely match. The doors also have the tightest gaps in Toyota’s lineup with a space of only 3.5 millimeters. Each door is carefully measured to make sure they meet the right measurement standards.

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Toyota offers just four color choices for the Century and they are:

The signature color for the Toyota Century is black which is the most popular color choice. The newly developed Eternal Black is also known as Kamui, it is a term that describes the supernatural with spiritual energy. It describes this black paint so well because of the depth it has. Most cars have mostly four coats of paint, even high-end luxury cars do not need much more than this, but the Century takes this process a few steps further.

Seven coats of black paint are applied with clear coats that have black pigments in them. The next process is wet sanding which is done three times for 90 minutes with each coating process. This is to ensure a smooth surface before the next coats are applied and this is the key to a perfect paint job. Most workers from the Century factory are sent to visit Wajima lacquerware workshops in Ishikawa Prefecture. This is to make sure they learn the traditional Japanese way of lacquerware production.

Finally, the vehicles are hand polished to get the perfect mirror finish. The process of painting the Toyota Century is a slow and detailed one that takes about a week to complete. Most factory-built vehicles suffer from orange peel but not the Toyota Century. Therefore, only a few qualified experts are allowed to paint a Century.

People who are qualified to purchase these cars are some of the most important people in Japan. They are used to owning the finest things in life and the Century should be no different. The mirror paint finish is especially noticeable on the wide C-pillars which can be used as mirrors for VIPs to casually check on their appearance.

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Most Assembly lines make use of machines or pre-assembled parts to make the workflow faster. But the Century is assembled by hand with complete accuracy. Experienced craftsmen are also used for this process, they will measure and check several times to make sure a part is assembled perfectly.

When installing the Center Tower Console (rear infotainment), A skill known as Kan-Kotsu is employed. This means intuition and skills, a process where the master installer doesn’t just rely on instruments but also his senses. He uses his hands, eyes, and instruments to properly install this unit. This is a process that can only be achieved with years of experience and trust in one's abilities, every part is installed with this process.

Other items like the exterior roof malls are also carefully installed. They are designed to let water flow back and forth without flowing sideways. Even the doors have malls that run seamlessly from front to back trapping any sideways water. This is to ensure the VIPs do not get water from the doors spilled on them when they step out in the rain. This is also fitted with precision to get the best result.

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Every Century goes through a final inspection process to make sure it achieves the highest level of quality. The most important one is the paint inspection where the car is inspected two different illuminations. The first is to check for reflection under 100 fluorescent lights. This lighting is the best when checking for any imperfections in the paintwork and its quality.

Next, the car is subjected to artificial sunlight which simulates the outdoor environment where the car will be used. This level of inspection is needed to ensure the car looks elegant in every situation. No mass-production carmaker ensures quality as Toyota does with the Century. This is an hour-long process and every Century must be checked in this manner.

Since the Second generation century was launched in 1997, Toyota introduced a History book for each car. This book contains detailed information about every Century built, every inspection performed, who supervised the inspection, and much more. All history books are stored at the Higashi Fuji plant.

There are so many boutique Automakers today who do not even have an accurate number of cars they’ve produced, especially from the 90s. But Toyota has not only been building the most luxurious cars with strict attention to detail, they also have records of everyone. This is a process we only see with multi-million dollar luxury cars and sports cars.

But even with detailed craftsmen who have over fifty years of experience in their craft with the best quality product available, the Century isn’t that expensive. A new Toyota Century costs just over 25 million yen ($180,000). It may seem like a lot but most European brands like Mercedes will charge you just as much for an S-class. But the Toyota Century is an exclusive, hand-built vehicle for the ultra-wealthy in Japan and it is a steal for that price.

Davies is automotive writer with a deep passion for cars with an extensive knowledge of the automotive industry shared through his engaging and informative articles.