A Bit about the Name

The name of the P76 derived from the car's codename while in development (Project 76). Speculation surrounds the naming and parentage of the P76. One story says the name was apparently the platoon number of British Leyland head Donald Stokes. Another story is that the P76 was based on a Rover design, and that the "P" coding signified that it emanated from Rover. Rover's coding for its models included the P4, P5, P6 and P8 (although the P8 never reached mass production).

The official line was that the P76 was an original Australian designed and built Large Family Car, with no overseas counterpart and that P76 stood for "Project 1976". The Rover SD1 (released in 1976) shared several engineering features with P76 — including MacPherson strut front suspension, the aluminium V8 engine and a live rear axle.

Source: Wikipedia Online

Leyland P76 'Force 7'

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 .


Back to P76 Models