Here at Motoring Weekly we like to keep an eye on unusual or one-off vehicles that appear out of the blue. Late last year there was a flurry of reports about the Toyota Century GRMN.
The Toyota Century is the ultra limousine built exclusively for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM). It has had only three generations in over fifty years and is a true low volume vehicle – only a few thousand are built a year. The first generation appeared in 1967 with a 2.6 litre V8 and was based on an earlier car albeit with more of everything fitted! After a few years the engine was increased in size firstly to a 3.3 litre V8 and then a four litre V8. What I find interesting is that today if a car gets to ten years old as a base design then the media criticises it for being “old and tired”, well the first generation was thirty years old by the time the design was updated!
The second generation in 1997 was allegedly a whole new design, however it looked just like the original! I’m sure that new materials and better production facilities meant it was a better car though. The biggest change was that the engine had increased in size again to a 5 litre V12 and like the first generation, was in production for a long time – twenty years.
The third, and current, generation was released in 2017 and was a much more modern design with a nod back to its heritage. The motor had now lost several cylinders to be a 5 litre V8. It is this design that the GRMN is based upon. GRMN stands for “Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring” and Gazoo is becoming the AMG/Alpine/Abarth/M/RS of Toyota – in other words the hardcore sports line of the company.
This car in particular was seen in Tokyo and took many enthusiasts by surprise with many asking why you would make a sports version of a limousine? The answer is simply to talk to the Europeans who are very good at this sort of thing! Then when the vehicle had been spied, Toyota’s President, Akio Toyoda, turned up at an unrelated press conference in it and said that it was a mule, testing new parts.
That car was white and then presented at a Gazoo Racing Festival a few weeks later. Earlier this year a black version was seen on the Toyota stand at the Tokyo Auto Salon. What is really interesting is that there was a lot of media hype about the vehicle, yet no real information was provided such as extra kit, better performance or any new trim levels. From the images, the car had some extra bodywork and that was about it, not enough to truly excite anyone.
There is hope that this vehicle will see a production line and will go head to head with Bentley and I suspect that it will still only be a JDM model if that happens. That makes going to Japan more exciting – just to see one in the wild!