The Century is produced in limited numbers and is built in a "nearly hand-made" fashion. It is often used by royalty, government leaders, and executive businessmen. The Century is comparable in purpose to the Austin Princess, ZIS/ZIL, Chinese Red Flag, Rolls-Royce and Maybach limousines. The Toyota Century is equipped with the fender mirrors characteristic of Japanese cars.
A special version, called the Toyota Century Royal, was produced for the Japanese Imperial Household, to be used by senior members of the imperial family, with the same purpose of the Bentley State Limousine presented to the British Royal Family. This special version has wool cloth upholstery, granite running board steps and Japanese rice paper headliner. Five vehicles were originally ordered, but due to the cost per vehicle, only four vehicles were built. This vehicle replaced the fleet of 30 year old Nissan Prince Royal limousines that were beginning to show their age, when one recently broke down in service.
The exterior styling of the Century has, with some modifications, remained unchanged since its introduction, primarily due to its perceived social status as the "preferred vehicle denoting conservative success" . Its appearance is iconic in Asian countries, usually painted black. The closest Asian competitor is the Nissan President, with a similar reputation.
The original Century was based on the 1964 Toyota Crown Eight, which featured the 2.6L V8 Toyota 3V engine. The 1967 Century was equipped with an upgraded version of this engine, the 3.0L 3V. 1973 saw the introduction of the 3.4L 4V-U, and the engine was once again changed to the 4.0L 5V-EU in 1982. Note that the 3V, 4V-U, and 5V-EU do not refer to the number of valves in the engine; they denote models in the line of Toyota V engines. There is also a L-Type stretched version of the Century, length is 5270mm (207.5in) with a wheelbase of 3010mm (118.5in).
The first generation Century remained largely untouched during its 30-year production run. Although minor cosmetic changes and engine upgrades occurred throughout its lifespan, the commercial longevity of the Century chassis is nevertheless impressive.