From the world’s first production GPS system in the JC Eunos Cosmo to the Cressida’s redundant stereo volume dial next to the steering wheel, Japan has always been a pioneer of automotive luxury. That is why this week we ask,
What’s Japan’s most luxurious car?
The obvious answer is the Toyota Century, the uber-exclusive limousine whose name marked the 100th birthday of Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyota industrial empire. Its overall shape has barely changed since its debut in 1967 and its basic underlying engineering ran for 30 years, until 1997 when its V8 powertrain was upgraded to a V12 that Toyota builds exclusively for this one model. Among the many accessories offered on the Century over the years are a self-leveling air suspension, built-in refrigerator, massaging seats, and a pass-through on the front passenger seat-back so the VIP in back can stretch his legs out while non-verbally dominating the chauffeur with his foot odor.
What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random JDM toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What’s the most overrated nostalgic car?”
The AE86 got more votes than anything else, but just like in the touge battles of Initial D the hachiroku dodges humiliation at the last minute. Its savior was Tyler, who chimed in with a grammatically perfect screed about the 86’s opposite-wheel-drive 1.6-liter rival, the EG Civic.
Well fifth gen Civics (EG) are 20 years old now so I’m going to peg them with the shame. It seems everybody and their dead uncle owned one, complete with a falling-off $100 body kit, Ebay HID’s, “Altezza” tail lights and a 17″ diameter tailpipe. That wouldn’t be so bad if the drivers didn’t all seem to want to re-enact scenes from Tokyo Drift in your neighborhood. Everyone seems to love them to the point that people will break into others’ garages to steal them. And at the end of the day what do you have? A stock econobox with rust holes in the quarter panels. 5tr33t r4c3r, po boy styles.
Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a micro Choro-Q Toyota 2000GT!
What’s Japan’s most overrated luxurious car?
I would call the current Lexus LS600h the most luxurious Japanese car of all time. It may be a bit dull to look at, but there is very little on the planet that is quieter, or more comfortable if you’re in the back seat. It even has been used as a Landaulet in a royal wedding (http://www.netcarshow.com/lexus/2011-ls_600h_l_landaulet/). As an official choice of royalty, it’s hard to argue against it.
I second that. 🙂
What about the Datsun Cedric and the Datsun President?
As a Toyotaku and a Century owner, this is a hard one to swallow.. BUT:
The honor should go to the Nissan Prince Royal. Think about this massive car in Japan in the mid 1960’s. The average resident in Japan at the time was dreaming of Subaru 360’s, and if they were doing really well, a Nissan Bluebird or Toyota Corona. Mere mortals need not apply!
..named after the reigning Crown Prince, sized like nothing else Japanese at the time, a V8 engine, luxury appointments throughout, and an “exclusive” ownership roster. She was so dignified that she was able to serve the Royal family for over 40 years.
are you from Misawa?
Pictures here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Prince_Royal
Quite obviously the Mitsuoka Orochi….
The ’90 Mazda Cosmo is my pic, and I know this’ll get picked apart. Sure it was more of a failed sports car than a luxury car, sure it’s a coupe, yeah, it’s kinda ugly… but it was ahead of its time with electronic Japanese doodads that are the norm for any Japanese luxo now and since. Touch screen dash controls and navigation, factory cell phone, and a cd player to name a few. Look at a picture of the interior and tell me it isnt a luxurious car. I would bang this thing. Plus, it was powerful. The first Mazda 3-rotor. And in true japanese luxury form, it was only offered as an auto 4speed. Deal with it.
RWD fanboys are still mad at Hondas.
It ain’t just RWD fanboys, hoss… 🙂
And the same time, it’s daddy the EF is one of the most underrated classics of all time…the Civic, not the CR-X. When was the last time you’ve seen an EF hatchback in a video game, or a Choro Q collection? There’s only like 2 die-cast models of EDM/USDM late model which no one wants, and that’s it…it’s interesting how most people compare the Civic-based chassis to the best of them, yet bash on it for being an FF at the same time. How is that possible? You damn well know that the ’90s Hondas were the best FFs of ALL time, and could hang with the best of FRs and AWDs twice it’s size, yet somehow the ricer stereotype won’t leave your heads alone. Fascinating. It truly is.
So true. I don’t agree with Tyler but he did have the most well-written comment. The EF/EG Civics were phenomenal pieces of engineering — affordable, bulletproof, great mileage, superb performers with F1 double wishbone and variable valve timing and better looking than the BMW 3-series of its era. Wouldn’t mind owning one someday.
I own two underpowered FWD cars and one classic truck. I don’t think I qualify as a RWD fanboy!
Tally ho, chaps!
I would like to respectfully submit, if I may, the 1990 Autech Zagato Stelvio as my vote for the best Japanese luxury car.
(Why, you may ask…)
It is the only one of its kind, a bespoke item made by an Italian carozzeria. Run your hand over its sensous curves and marvel, at how each panel began with a flat sheet of alloy, and an older Italian man in a brown coat with a hammer and dolly. Look inside. In the 1980s, only high end Maseratis had interiors like this. Slide into the cabin onto acres of glove-soft handstiched Italian leather, and admire the reflection of your best capitalist leer in the hand polished burr walnut dash inlays. And then think of the room full of craftsmen and women, toiling for weeks on sewing machines and wood files to made this all real.
And that is before we get started on the not-entirely small matter of the 320 horse turbo V6 at the sharp end, or the Autech sports-tuned Leopard/Skyline chassis beneath.
But to appreciate the Stelvio, one has to look beyond what it is, and look at what it stands for: the only Japanese example of a Italian coachbuilding tradition that simply no longer exists. A cost-no-object final hurrah for a proud carozzeria of second and third generation artisans, weilding the same hammers and dollies that once we used to craft bespoke Ferraris and Aston Martins.
Back in the day, if you drove one, it would be a rolling symbol of all the bespoke European stuff that you no doubt had stashed away in your Miami-Vice styled mansion. An NSX or Toyota Century? Pah! You could buy three of those for what it would take to charm a Stelvio into your life.
If something is rare, if it is expensive, if it is the end product of centuries of tradition and thousands of hours of craftsmanship, if it is the product of skills now extinct, if it is the very last of its kind, then I beseech you….is that not luxury?
My many thanks, for your attention.
Sheesh Kev, and we all thought you were kidding about your Stelvio love… 🙂
Kev? Who is this “Kev” of which you speak?
I dunno but if there’s TWO of you guys out there with a fragrance doll avatar and a Stelvio obsession the world is more dangerous than I realize….
I vote for this, after all it’s not the best answer we’re looking for, but the best *comment*.
How about the Previa at Toyotafest? 🙂
What are you, gunning for two in a row? 🙂
Should I tone it down a bit? 😛
No, by all means shoot for our first repeat winner!
The Japanese Hearse!
Most modern hearses are somber, drab deals, but compared to Japanese hearses, I can’t think of a better luxurious way to go in (or out…..semantics…). It’s traditional finery with the trappings of luxury at it’s best.
Hey, the rules didn’t state the mode of transport had to be while you were living!!
Nissan President! Best years, probably 1968 and 69. Long and regal, with a hint of sinister. Even he name says it all…
One of my favorite luxury Nissans. And, I might add, my wife’s favorite car ever.
Isn’t the Nissan President Carlos Ghosn?