1996 Toyota Century Miyagata Hearse With Gold Dragons Has U.S. Title

Would you like to be buried in the best car… of the Century? No, literally, a car called a Century, the Toyota Century. It’s often described as the Japanese equivalent of a Rolls-Royce, and up until recently, you couldn’t enjoy one in the United States. We know everybody wants the Century with a V12 engine, but just look at this amazing Miyagata hearse conversion.

Just picture this: you, wearing a fur coat, “Thrift Shop” blasting through the speakers, and you’ve instantly won car & coffee. Everybody’s Lamborghini is suddenly boring compared to this actual JDM hearse.

The Century was recognized for many decades as the best luxury vehicle Japan has ever made. Sure, the LS400 cost $1 billion to develop and put Lexus on the map, but the Century is somehow above that. Every wealthy or important individual coveted one ever since its introduction in 1967.

This VG40 model, a 1996 Toyota Century, is the third and final evolution of the original car. Thus, it’s got the perfect amount of timelessness and nostalgia to be a hearse.

Besides being JDM, this might be the most interesting hearse in America, better than a Rolls-Royce, better than a Tesla, and maybe even a 1969 Cadillac. And that’s because this is done in the Japanese style called Miyagata Reikyusha (宮型霊柩車). Reikyusha means hearse and Miyagata means it’s shrine-shaped. But doesn’t fully explain this strange vehicle.

Why the Japanese hearse is golden

The Miyagata hearse is used to transport the body of the deceased to the crematorium. The ornate wooden construction on top of the car thus serves as a kind of temporary Shinto shrine. You can use any type of vehicle for this job. We’ve seen the cheaper Toyota Crown, Fords, and even a Mercury Grand Marquis. But this being a Century means it’s a flagship, the Rolls-Royce.

The Miyagata hearse is very much an effect of Western culture and technology changing Japan. In the old days, the shrine was carried by dozens of priests on their shoulders. Then in the 20s and 30s, western cars and trucks began being used.

To make the Miyagata hearse, the Century sedan body is chopped and a steel frame is installed at the bottom. The construction on top is made out of wood. We assure you that the ornate dragons are, in fact, not made of real gold but are in fact wooden. Some decorative places can be seen at the corners of the roof, and they are stamped metal that’s gilded.

The interior of the JDM hearse is just as pretty as the outside and features rollers. It does look like a tight squeeze, but we’d argue this Toyota Century is better as a strange enthusiast car than a working hearse.

That being said, it’s in excellent condition, like many cars that are imported from Japan. The 1996 Toyota is being sold on Cars and Bids by Vans from Japan, which has brought stuff like this into the country before. It’s got a Virginia U.S. title and only shows about 33,100 miles on the odometer.

Power comes from a 4.0-liter V8, the Toyota 5V-EU, which is only rated at 190 horsepower and 213 lb-ft of torque. With a 4-speed automatic and all that added weight, this may also be the slowest car at cars & coffee, not just the most interesting. Noteworthy features include 15-inch wheels with Century logos and doily-like seat covers. Something tells me Doug DeMuro will want to review this before it’s sold.



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