We’re all big fans of the Toyota Century around here. Most automakers don’t build a flagship that so defiantly bucks the norms of its segment. But what if the Toyota Century was just a little too common for you? What if you needed a Toyota luxury car that was a bonafide one-off and a factory-produced one at that?
This 1998 Lexus LS400 Long for sale in Poland is reportedly the only one in existence. According to the ad on eBay, the car once belonged to a Sheik who used it on visits to Europe. While the exact length of the stretch this second-gen car got isn’t also mentioned, it looks to me to be about eight or so inches at most of comfort and legroom added to the b-pillar.
Inside, the upgrades aren’t all that over the top. The rear bench appears unchanged from stock behind all that legroom. A television set sits between the front seats and the all-important car-phone is mounted on an arm reaching back towards the rear passengers, ready to be pressed into service to close a deal, berate a lackey or reassure some major shareholders.
When you’re important enough to be carted around in a car this special, it’s not really the creature comforts you need, though. What you’re really looking for is privacy. In this Lexus, that wide B-pillar provides some cover from prying eyes outside, and anything it doesn’t shield is blocked out by some serious curtains that wouldn’t be out of place on one of those nice but rather common (compared to this car, at least) Centuries. The glass might not be tinted, but you wouldn’t be wanting for privacy in the back of this LS.
But back to that B-Pillar. It’s the special trim this extra bit of bodywork gets that has me so enamoured with this car. That giant Lexus badge in the middle is the exact opposite of the Toyota Century approach. It’s in-your-face branding that is all about flexing on your friends in their more common, more conventional limousines. Century owners don’t need to do that. But if you ordered something like this, you’d probably be all about the flex.
What’s so excited about this car is the fact that it supposedly was built in coordination with the actual LS plant at Tahara, Japan. This is a plant known for its precision and attention to build quality, with incredible scrutiny paid to details like panel fit and finish. Those engineers and technicians wouldn’t have stood for some slap-dash stretch job. No, they would have made sure it was done right.
And it better have been done right if the car is worth the monster 39,000 euros ($64,000) the seller is asking for. The car does only have a scant 15,000 kilometres under its belt, and these are cars that are capable of doing nearly a hundred times that distance. But put mileage and durability aside for a second.
If you want this car it’s because you want its exclusivity. And while I see the appeal, I certainly don’t want it for more than ten times what an equivalent standard LS goes for. It seems not many others feel any stronger as this car has apparently been on offer by the same seller for at least two years now. Maybe eventually someone will bite.