Leyland P76 Models

The P76 was released in June 1973 in three levels of trim, with a choice of three transmissions - three- and four-speed manuals and an automatic. Models ranged from the Deluxe through the Super to the top-of-the-line Executive, intended as a competitor for the Fairlane/Statesman. The Deluxe had two headlights while the more upmarket models sported four. A basic fleet model was also available, but it seems that very few were made.

P76 DeluxeThe "Deluxe" was originally intended to be the mainstay of P76 production . Like the oppositions counterparts of the "Falcon 500 , the Kingswood and the Ranger" , the Deluxe was expected to be the "Bread and Butter" version of the P76 .

Surprisingly the up-market "Super" version became nearly an equal seller to the Deluxe surprising both the opposition and Leyland Australia . The Deluxe was offered with a wide range of options starting with the "three speed" column manual OHC six with a bench seat up to the V8 version with bucket seats and column auto . These cars can be found in any combination of options , including factory air-conditioning (V8 only) but none were fitted with t-bar autos , full consoles or power-steering .

Externally the cars are easiest identified by the "single" 7-inch headlights and wider grill , all chrome except on the drip rail and windscreens are missing and "skinny" wheels with simple centre caps were fitted . The interior was devoid of woodgrain except for the simplified instrument cluster , with a painted silver finish on the dash and glovebox area . Rubber floor mats and a bench seat were standard equipment . The door trims were simplified and had no carpet on the bottom . The door tops and inside pillars were not padded . The padded and recessed mounting for the sun-visors was replaced with a simple panel covered in the same material as the headlining . Sound-proofing was kept to a minimum .

Late build cars were offered with a "luxury pack" that contained bucket seats (reclining still optional) a radio and loop pile carpet . Mechanically the Deluxe was identical to all other P76's and so the best performing of all the P76's had to be the slightly lighter V8 4 speed Deluxe . Deluxe's were offered in all the colours , but are rare in metallic colours .

A taxi version was built on the Deluxe and it was the only car that actually met and qualified for the then governments newly released "taxi standard" - eventually the government altered the standard so the oppositions cars could also qualify .

Although basic these cars still remained a level above their opposition with power brakes with rear antilock/balance valve , hazard lights and deep foam seats and huge boot as standard


The "Super" model was conceived as the middle range family car – a direct competitor to "Holden's Premier" "Fords Fairmont" and "Valiant's Regal" these cars were targeted at the slightly up-market family .

Leyland were to achieve something that most other manufactures would only dream of with this model , as the "Super" was to achieve a much higher percentage of sales per build than its oppositions offerings . Fords "family" car was to become the lower lspecified "Falcon 500" , Holden's became the "Kingswood" and Valiant carried family's around in "Rangers" .

Only the P76 gained wide scale "mid market" acceptance with its luxury "Super" . Fitted with either V8 or OHC 6 in 4 speed floor shift manual or column / t-bar automatic form, this car had plenty of options . Sharing its external chrome and basic badging with the "Executive" , available in the full range of colours - inside and out these were a good looking car. Deep padded vinyl bucket seats were standard ( no bench option ) . Interestingly the "standard" buckets had fixed backs and    reclining seats were available as an option at an extra $35.oo . The rear seat had a centre armrest (of course) and the interior was complemented with loop pile carpet . Wood grain appeared everywhere from the door trims to the instruments and dash .

A comprehensive dash was shared between this model and the "Executive" with a clock and "Volt" gauge as standard . Extra soundproofing was fitted above the "Deluxe" and included inside the bonnet . Dual 5 inch headlights and grill was fitted, shared with the more up market Executive" as were wider rims and full hubcaps . "Supers" had slightly padded door "tops" and interior "A" pillar areas and were fitted with the padded and recessed sun visor's also uses in the Executive model . Power steering was not a factory option (it was fitted on Targas though).

The boot was painted black and finished in the same rubber floor mat as used in the "Deluxe" . Air conditioning was apparently a late (and rare) option.

The "Executive" model created a new niche in the Australian car market . Leyland Australia, recognizing that a long wheelbase luxury model would still be some years away, decided to create a model above the oppositions short wheel base luxury packs , yet based on their SWB car .

In comparison - this strategy placed the "Executive" above the SWB "Ford Fairmont" yet below the LWB "Ford Fairlane" and in a market area on its own . Although the opposition were to eventually respond to the Executive in the years to come - Leyland created the market with this model . The "Executive car market" still survives in Australia and is now one of the most fought over markets with all manufacturers producing models in this area . Since the P76, the model name "Executive" has been cloned by Holden, Nissan, Mitsubishi in their attempts to dominate this sought after area .

The Executive shares the external body and chrome fittings with the "Super" model , with the addition of rubber "bump" strips on the front and rear bumpers and the centre grill badge has a red edge line where the super has a black background . Available only in V8 t-bar automatic form and with most options fitted as standard , factory air-conditioning was one of the few build option available .

Executives has power steering fitted as standard and reclining cloth covered seats. Luxury "cut-pile" carpet was placed on the floor , Features included - rear map lights that could be individually controlled , lights under the arm rests that illuminated the curb when the door was opened and the first "door ajar" light system in this class of car . Like the "Super" the front sun-visors were recessed in to a padded enclosure (a first for an Australian car). Sound proofing was nearly doubled from the Super , with thicker proofing under the carpets and in areas such as the engine bay walls . Boot and under bonnet lights were also provided . Map pockets were fitted to the back of the front seats and the boot was carpeted.

p76Executive cloth trim , Patterned in small circles this cloth is similar to material used in the later "minis" but with larger circles . Available in all P76 interior colours , this particular "stark white" colour is unusual and appears to have been fitted only to very late build cars , NZ cars and (in vinyl) the force 7 coupes . Black and blue interior cars did have a "stark white" headlining

The "Targa Florio" was actually a option pack on the P76 "Super". This model was created in mid 1974 to commemorate the stage win of a nearly standard P76 in the 1974 world cup rally . Driven by legendary Australian rally driver Evan Green, the speed and ability of this 4 speed manual - V8 P76 surprised the worlds best in the "Targa Florio" stage in Sicily (Italy).

Never taken seriously and considered a "token car' by most of the professional teams, the mighty P76 thundered into first place much to the astonishment of the other teams. The "P" and its drivers were to prove their abilities and gain respect from some of the top teams during many gruelling stages including the Sahara desert where the team, in true Australian tradition turned back for stricken competitors. A broken strut forced this great attempt to drive nearly 200kilometres before getting repairs ( there was no support truck following - all the parts they could carry were in the boot ). After a very high attrition rate the rally was shortened to help the many stricken teams a chance to get to the finish line.

Eventually finishing 13th overall the P76 was one on the few cars to complete the full race distance. After the rally Leyland Australia and the team were so confident in the car that they drove the car unsupported back through an older World Cup Rally route as this provided a cheaper option to return the car to Australia. In the one rally / trip this car covered over 35,000k with only one major failure ( the broken strut ). Even Green had a very successful rally career and in '75 went on to write a book about the rally titled "A boot full of right arms" and this is a must read if you want more info about this fantastic car and the 1974 WCR.

The "Targa Florio" model is easily identified by the "side stripes" and factory mag wheels and it is based on a V8 t-bar auto "Super". Like the Executive this model was only offered with the standard V8 and automatic with power steering, although a very few manual versions were rumoured to have been built for some Leyland staff - NO factory manual Targa has ever been confirmed from the chassis number.

Air conditioning was optional and is rare on all cars including Targa's. Initially a very short run in only "Omega navy" (metallic Blue) was planned for these cars.  However, market acceptance saw the run of "Blue" Targa's increase to approximately 342, with a further 73 "Nutmeg" (metallic Brown) (some supplied with the stripe set "in the boot") and finally approx 73 Targa's were produced in "Aspen Green" (metallic green) (some also supplied with the stripes "in the boot"). Although nothing actually defines a "Targa" on the compliance plate, a check of the chassis number and engine number can go a long way to confirm the originality of a Targa.

The chassis number MUST define the car as a "V8 t-bar automatic Super", built after 6-74. The engine number MUST define the car as having power steering and air conditioning if fitted.
Options that should be in a Targa.

V8 motor, T-Bar auto with full console, "Targa" Mag wheels, Side stripes, Bone interior, 2 speaker AM radio, vinyl seats, loop-pile carpets, Super interior trim, Factory reclining seats, Power steering, Limited slip Differential (only P76 to have these standard ), Super dash and badges, No map pockets in seats.

If it doesn't have these - check it is really a Targa.

The Force7v Coupes - much controversy and argument had surrounded these cars . The Force7v was to be the first Australian hatchback ( yes before the Holden "Torana") .

The "Force" coupes were to be the first truly practical large coupes in Australia with actual usable interior space and a back seat an adult could actually sit comfortably in . Rumoured to have a option of a V8 motor above 5.0 litres these cars were expected to deliver true performance .

Viewed by some dealers as the model to save Leyland Australia , the bankrupt Leyland England finally decided to stop development of the "Force coupes" . The "Targa Florio" sports sedan was produced in a final attempt to appease the dealers , but many saw it as not enough . Leyland Australia was well into the development of the three models that were to be the "Force coupes" with many examples being secretly tested around   NSW .

The "Blue Force 7v coupe" was shipped secretly to England for testing and was used in the final development of the Rover SD1 4 door hatchback . This car eventually become "Lord Stokes" personal transport before finally being sold to a private collector .
The base "Force" coupe was to be offered in six and V8 form with simplified trim , then followed by the "Force 7v" considered to be comparable to the "Super" model of the P76 , with better trim and options and finally the "Tour de Force" was to be the pinnacle of the "Force" project with comparable options to the top of the line P76 Executive .Disappointingly , the pilot build program had yielded over 50 cars in various states of testing before British Leyland closed the "Force" project .

After the P76 plant had closed , in a corporate decision some listed as absolute madness - British Leyland decided that the best way to maximise the value of the remaining "Force coupes" was to destroy all but 10 examples. This "interesting" decision was intended to make these cars very rare indeed and British Leyland hoped to reap great rewards for these cars at the final auction . As the "Blue Force" was already in the possession of Leyland England - it was one of the cars spared .

The other 9 cars were completed to "Force 7v" trim specification using parts cannibalised from the remaining bodies which were promptly crushed under supervision of Leyland England . Initially Leyland Australia decided to keep a Orange Force7v for themselves but shortly before the final auction a change of mind resulted in Leyland Australia retaining the only "Brown" example . Finally the 8 remaining "Force 7's" went to auction in Sydney on Tuesday September 9th 1975 . British Leyland advertised the auction in the international press and at all the Australian motor shows - hoping to attract buyers with large pockets .

Disappointingly for British Leyland , the cars attracted far less attention than they had hoped. Possibly this was because Leyland Australia was only a fledgling company, possibly it was British Leyland's increasingly bad reputation or even the statements that the cars would be un-registerable and be subject to a 27.5 percent sales tax , no one will ever truly know. British Leyland expected over a 1000 people, yet only 300 odd cared for a look at these exceptionally rare cars . Eventually all the cars were sold to a occasionally disinterested crowd for a average price of slightly under $8000.oo .
The 8 Force7 v coupes sold at auction

Lot 1

Yellow / White trim

V8 4 speed manual




Lot 2

White / Black trim

V8 T-Bar Automatic


$ 8,500.oo


Lot 3

Orange / Black trim

V8 4 speed manual


$ 8,000.oo


Lot 4

Green / White trim

V8 4 speed manual


$ 7,500.oo


Lot 5

Yellow / Black trim

V8 T-Bar Automatic


$ 9,500.oo

Ex Leyland "dev" car with aircon

Lot 6

Orange / Black trim

V8 4 speed manual


$ 6,250.oo


Lot 7

Green / White trim

V8 T-Bar Automatic


$ 6,500.oo


Lot 8

Orange / White trim

V8 T-Bar Automatic


$ 7,500.oo


Of course 27.5% sales tax was then applied to these prices

All example of the "Force 7" coupes still exist today (2010), although some have met with accidents all have been restored to road going condition . The "Blue Force" is possibly the rarest having been completed first and this is the only Force painted in a metallic colour . Shipped before the stripes were made and before the tachos and "later" type "interior sill panels" arrived this car is quite individual to its other 9 companions . This coupe is the only Force fitted with a experimental version of the intended "Force" black turned metal finish dash , all the other cars were fitted with the normal P76 "Executive" type woodgrain finish. Not all the other forces have tacho's (replaced the clock) although some were available at the time . The production run of P76 tachos was not completed until after the Zetland factory closed . VDO (the manufacturer) of the tachos were ordered to destroy the bulk of them as British Leyland had no interest in taken delivery of them . Although some examples escaped the crusher ("borrowed" by VDO employees) these tachos are a very rare item indeed .

In the early 1980's a Victorian man attempted to build a Force 7v coupe . Having located most of the exterior panels for a Force , this man actually extensively modified a brown Targa Florio into a replica of a Force 7 coupe . Although he had most of the panels - he was missing the RHS front guard , nose cone , grill and tail-lights . Unable to recreate the "pillar-less" seals and window the doors were modified to become "pillared" . Ford Telstar tail-lights were eventually fitted to the car with hand made nose-cone and front guard . This car has never been known to be finished or registered and passed thru a couple of owners in the '90's before its current location became lost . If you should locate this car or find out more of its history - email the club as one of the original club members sold the "builder" the nutmeg "Targa" this car was built on and have always wondered what eventually happened to it. Such attempts can highlight the desperation to own one of these coupes

The P76 wagon is arguably the rarest of all the P76 variants - rarer then even a Force 7 coupe . P76 Station wagon development was well advanced when the decision was made to concentrate Leyland's efforts on the Force 7 coupes .

Three wagons were initially made (and a fibreglass mock-up) , but only one survived after the plant closure . The first two wagons ( one apparently in cream and one in white) were made by the "experimental" department of Leyland and undertook much testing before the cream wagon was eventually destroyed leaving the white "Super" wagon surviving . The final wagon was assembled on the production line and was built with a "Bitter Apricot Super" exterior , yet had a Deluxe interior complete with the bench seat and interior in cream .

Oddly enough this car had a "power tailgate" . This car was eventually destroyed in crash testing . The only surviving wagon (Arctic White Super) was used as a parts "run around" in the factory after the wagon project was shelved in favour of the Force 7's . Finally at the closure of the Zetland plant the remaining wagon was sold by tender to a then Force 7 owner . The wagon was never totally completed as Leyland had not fully decided some of the final aspects of the trim and tailgate areas .

Styled closely to the P76 sedan , the wagon had individual rear doors with the windows sweeping upright to allow better access to the rear seat and back area . Disappointingly , the sharp angle of the rear window combined with the sedan wheelbase meant the wagon had a smaller rear capacity than most of its intended rivals . With the spare wheel stored flat under the boot floor the wagon would still have been a useable size and complemented the P76 range . Rumoured to have started development with a one piece hatchback , the fibreglass mock-up's initial fold down tailgate tests used a modified HG Holden gate .The only surviving wagon is still complete and in road going condition (2010) . Although owner ship of this rarest of all P76's has changed - it remains in the hands of a collector and enthusiast .

Although many P76's have been converted to station wagons over the years , typically using Ford roof lines - few survived more than a handful of years . All "fake" wagons have used the sedan doors and window glass reducing access to the rear areas . The factory wagon remains the only car with individual rear doors .