The Australian Edsel: 1974 Leyland P76 Super V8

Timing can be everything, and Ford learned this lesson with the Edsel. In spite of serious market research, the Edsel was the wrong car in the wrong place at the wrong time, it suffered from quality control issues, and people didn’t take to its styling. In Australia, Leyland Australia repeated the same mistakes. The P76 was designed by Leyland to compete directly with Ford, Holden, and Valiant in the family car market. Unfortunately, it was introduced during a period when many Australian automotive component manufacturers were being ravaged by industrial disputes. Add a slowing economy, double-digit inflation and the 1974 oil crisis to the mix, and the P76 was in serious trouble from day one. You will find this Leyland P76 Super offered for sale here on eBay. Located in Gosnells, Western Australia, it is being offered for sale with a clear title. At the time of writing, bidding had reached $6,100.

Along with the previously mentioned barriers that the P76 needed to overcome, there were two others that faced the car. While the Leyland group was home to a comprehensive catalog of well-known marques such as Austin, Morris, Triumph, and Rover, the company chose to name the car a Leyland, which was a brand name unfamiliar to the Australian motoring public. Many people also didn’t immediately take a shine to the styling of the car, although I think that it has stood the test of time quite well. As a result of these barriers and issues, the P76 only remained in production from 1973 until 1975. This P76 is painted in a color with the imaginative name of “Home on the O’Range.” The car exhibits a few dings and chips, but overall, it is very straight and complete. There are no rust issues to speak of, and some of the more difficult to obtain exterior trim items such as the original hubcaps are present and in good condition.

The rear view of the car gives you scope to consider one of the great marketing features of the car. The trunk of a P76 is cavernous, and Leyland released a number of promotional photos proving that it was indeed possible to fit a 44-gallon drum in there. This P76 had been sitting in a shed since the mid-1980s before the owner bought it. He has not attempted a cosmetic restoration of the car, but it has had some rust issues addressed. The car has a new trunk floor and spare wheel well. Another rust-prone spot in the P76 is the left front chassis rail. This car had suffered the same fate in that area that has killed many P76s, so the owner had this area professionally repaired.

The interior of the P76 is in remarkably good condition. The dash is missing the factory optional radio, but I believe that it does come with the car. The pad is clean and free of cracks, while the optional reclining front bucket seats look to be free of cracks or tears. The owner has fitted new carpet and sound deadener to the car. I did notice that the rim of the wheel is cracked, but there is a strong network of P76 owners clubs across Australia, so sourcing a good replacement should be possible.

As you can see from this shot, rear seat legroom was pretty decent in the P76. Depending on how the car was optioned, it could seat five or six people quite comfortably. Once again, the upholstery in the rear seems to be as good as that in the front. I am a bit curious as to why the rear seat appears to be so dusty, as this really detracts from the overall condition of the car.

Engine options for the P76 were limited to two engines. The standard engine was a 2.6l 6-cylinder engine, while buyers could also choose to opt for a 4.4l all alloy V8. This car is fitted with the V8 engine, which is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. Early engines did have some issues with quality control, but today these engines are reliable and fairly potent. When he purchased the P76, the owner rectified the rust issues as previously described, and the remainder of his time and effort was devoted to reconditioning the mechanical components of the car. The cylinder heads have been reconditioned, the entire braking system has been replaced, including all hoses and pipes. Factory power steering has been installed, and the suspension has also been rebuilt. The car also rolls on new tires.

So, that is Australia’s answer to the Edsel. A car that deserved far more success than it eventually achieved. It was also a car that was designed and developed at a cost of a paltry $20 million, which just wasn’t a sufficient budget for developing a completely new car. This example seems to be in good, honest condition and is structurally and mechanically strong. These don’t come onto the market often, as so many succumbed to the rust issues that have been rectified on this car. Good 6-cylinder versions will achieve around $10,000 when they come onto the market, so it will be interesting to see what a more desirable V8-engined car can achieve.

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. Howard A

    Ha! You’ll have to do better than that comparing this to the Edsel. The Edsel was a failure on all fronts, this looks like a nice car. If the moniker “Edsel” was placed on every car that didn’t work out, the list would be a mile long. I got a kick out your term “44 gallon drum”. I had to look that up, in the US, we say, 55 gallon drum as the standard. Obviously, Australia uses the “44 Imperial” gallon term, but it’s the same barrel. I’d think a V8 in a small car like this would go pretty well. I like it, but tis’ no Edsel.

    1
    • Blyndgesser

      It’s not a small car, really. About the size of a late-‘60s Dodge Coronet or Ford Torino.

      3
    • Garry

      The Imperial ( Australian) gallon is 4.545 litres, the US gallon is 3.6 liters, hence the 44/55 gallon drums. There are remains of many US 55 gallon drums in WW2 bases sites around Australia!

      1
    • al leonard

      Howard…read up on why Edsel failed…..it wasen;t the car….i.e.”Whiz Kids”…..

      Edsels are a wonderful car…..management was at fault..

      • Garry

        Al, the P76 was a wonderful car, too. I owned a V8, 3 on the tree, it drove & towed well; spacious & economical. The only thing that mine needed was better shockies on the rear. The BMC Experience Magazine (now defunct, available electronically) has a couple of good articles on it.

  2. Dave Mika

    And so we can assume by the blurred cooling fan, that the engine is running…

    1
  3. Shawn Fox Firth

    first time I’v seen one , I love it – I’d do a two door HT conversion .

    • Kiwi Glen

      Google Leyland force 7 to see the two door version

      2
    • Andy

      There was one. A two door fastbackThey I ly built a few prototypes. Its called a Force 5 (or Force 7. I forget.)

      • Garry

        There were some assembled ready for sale, some were sold. In that purely English logic they were crushed on the demise of Leyland in Australia. Some Force Sevens survived and are owned by members of the Leyland P76 Owners Club in Australia. There is a modified Targa Florio version of the 4 door P76 that is doing well in international rallying.

  4. Dave Mika

    Hey, at least the Edsel had the teletouch steering wheel!

    1
  5. Chuck Cobb

    Chipmunk cage behind air cleaner housing is for extra power

    1
  6. Ralph

    “I think that it has stood the test of time quite well.”

    -Yes, its remained just as hideous and when it was new.

    This is looks like what a 1972 Ford Torino would have looked like if we would have never won the Revolutionary War……

    2
    • dweezilaz

      If only something had prevented the monstrosity of the 72 Torino and the ones that followed…complete retrograde compared to what had come before it.

      1
  7. ClassicCarFan

    full story of the development on this free site in the UK

    https://www.aronline.co.uk/cars/leyland-australia-2/p76-p82/leyland-p76-story/

    another classic story of “sort of a sounded like a good idea…” badly executed…

    2
  8. Wayne from Oz

    Not only did quality control and union anarchy hinder this car, but because it was so far ahead of its time, with features and things that were options on other cars, came standard on the P76, GM and Ford could forsee sales loses to them, a lot of falsehoods were told. Motoring writers also rubbished it because they were in the pockets of the big 3 manufacturers. Similar to what happened to the Tucker.

    2
    • Chris In Australia

      Not ahead of its time. Nothing radical about it. McPherson strut front end, vented discs. 4 link & coil rear end, same as millions of GM intermediates.
      Alloy V8 and rack and pinion steering, the strut front end were new to this class of car in Australia, I’ll grant you that. The rest, no.
      As for the press rubbishing it, well, no. Wheels magazine awarded the V8 version it’s “Car of the Year” award. Hardly rubbishing the product is it?
      The overall shape is OK, but better detailing and a smaller @rse would go a long way. The 4 headlight versions such as this look much better than the twin headlight basic models.
      And since we’ve got a few Aussies here, I’ll mention that Lakeside Raceway is under threat from just 2 serial noise complainers. Please help by contacting the
      Moreton Bay Regional Council. We need your support. I will stand down from my soapbox now.

      8
      • Wayne from Oz

        Hidden windscreen wipers, no cowl between bonnet and windscreen. Can you name me one car that had this in that year?

        2
      • Chris In Australia

        1969 Buick Skylark managed it. The P-76 was the first Australian car to feature it. Hardly a great advance. The Citroen DS managed it in ’55

        4
      • Tricky

        Just goes to show you what a farce Wheels magazine was and still is Chris… the build quality of the P76 was atrocious and reliability was in the toilet!

        1
  9. Wolfram

    ore how we call these British Leyland in Germany “British Elend”, which means british misery, because of their horrible quality. Even BMW almost went down when some crazy CEO thaught its a great idea to mix with Rover. Ok. Lotus and Jaguar are nice cars, but as one guy here said recently on a Jaguar, nothing is more expensive then a cheap Jaguar

    2
    • Derek

      …apart from an expensive Jaguar…

      2
    • luke arnott

      These weren’t made/sold in Britain.Don’t know what the engine was,certainly not used here.The only car sold with a ‘Leyland’ badge was the Eight,decades ago.

      1
      • Martin Horrocks

        Engine is a variation on the Rover V8, itself ex-Buick. According to Wikipedia, P76 was designed by Michelotti. Not a good day in the office by his standards……

        1
      • Concinnity

        Yep, the old Buick alloy 215 c.i. V8,as redesigned slightly, (virtually not at all), by Rover to be sandcast rather than diecast. And in P76/Leyland Terrier truck form made with a 17mm taller deck height to allow the same bore as the BOP 215/Rover 3.5, (3.5 inches/89mm) with a matching longer stroke of 3.5 inches/89mm, to give 4.4 litres. So heads, waterpumps, cams, etc swap over, but intake manifolds don’t as the valley is wider. Very easy to take to 5 litres which Repco did to make the lightest Formula 5000 V8 and beat the Chev and Ford 5 litres

  10. Karl

    I can’t believe you wrote this story and failed to mention the Targa Florio stage win or the P76 Targa Florio edition.

    2
  11. Wayne from Oz

    Chris, I can’t recall seeing too many Buick Skylarks in Australia

    • Chris In Australia

      There’s one in my garage. Seriously there were plenty of American cars with hidden wipers by the time of the P-76’s release. It was the first Australian car with them.

    • Tony C.

      Wayne, you need to get out more on a Saturday ‘American only’ cruise night in Adelaide, only open to American cars, street rods, (which are usually all based on American cars pre 1949) and Harleys. Usually around 250 to 350 cars on a nice night. The number of classic ‘Yank’ cars all together at a mall will blow you’re mind, you name it we get it, even Delorians, a Daytona, a Crosley, Camaros and early Mustangs by the dozen, Torinos, Chryslers, you name it if it’s American we get them. Check out “Zippel Cruises” on the net, hundreds of pics.

  12. dweezilaz

    I love the story of this car after reading it on ARO.

    But all the pictures I’ve seen of them seem to look like prototypes or test mules, as if all it’s pieces don’t quite come together.

    That isn’t meant to be snarky, I’d love to have a Marina or an Allegro or even a “Plymouth Cricket”.

    And the Leyland Goatsee: up front and proud in the center of the grille. Perfect.

  13. chad

    I too thought when viewing the write-up post/pic it wuz a compact. I think it’s the familiar cellica (2nd – 4th gen?) grill (or 3rd gen carolla?) on it that did that 4 me (possibly the others above too?)

    The bent8 should B hot, not “edselie” (unless fallin apart at purchas-new phase).

  14. Wrong Way

    Do they still drive on the wrong side of the road in Australia? I always thought that everyone else is weird for putting the steering wheel on the wrong side! LOL

    • Peter from Oz

      We drive on the right side and you guys drive in the wrong side. This is why it is called ‘the right hand drive’!

      • Tony, Oz

        No Peter, we drive on the LEFT side, if you drive on the ‘right’ side you’re doin’ it wrong! If you’re in the US you’re doin’ it right, gets bloody confusing doesn’t it. A friend flew into Florida and stayed at a motel at the airport, next morning hired a car and proceeded to turn left out onto the road and had 4 lanes of cars coming straight at him, then the penny dropped.

    • Tony C.

      Wrong Way, no, we drive on the left side of the road NOT the wrong side, if you’re driving down a highway in Australia and all the other traffic is coming straight at you, then you’re definitely on the wrong side, or to you the ‘right’ side, but then Americans always seem to get things arse backwards, (just joking mate).
      TC

      • Peter

        Tony, you missed my point. When I say right I mean correct that is, we have ‘the correct hand drive’!

        (Note; If you look at early vehicles prior to world war 1, including US and European built, many are right hand drive. I wonder what caused the change.)

  15. Aussie Aussie Aussie

    I actually love EDSELS, JUST TOO FAR AHEAD OF THERE TIME AND NOT ENOUGH SKILL AT DEALER LEVEL TO DO CORRECT MAINTENANCE! from my recall, yes the style was a little polarising, but check prices of a nice one now! they were always going to be collectible, it just took a while! sorry caps lock, A lot like the last of the BROCK COMMODORE’S! No-one knew how to service THE POLARIZERS!!! and how many exactly really liked those ugly WANKASURE ones! BUT these LEYLANDS are one BUTT UGLY VEHICLE! That’s what mainly killed it off, I recall going to the dealers unveiling of them, as soon as it was uncovered most there just laughed! Ones who actually LIKED these probably TRADED a Citroen in to buy one and in the future had a LADA NIVA parked somewhere as well. When this car was pulled from production a friend of mine had a big wrecking yard in Melbourne and offered to grab me a brand spankin new one for $1100, I walked away, glad I did

    1
  16. Kiwi Rod

    These we’re nothing but rusty badly put together all ways breaking down useless motors

  17. Peter

    We drive on the right side and you guys drive on the wrong side. This is why it is called “the right hand drive”!

    • Wrong Way

      I guess that if your down under everything would naturally be opposite! Just my thoughts anyway! LMAO

      • Tony C.

        Wrong Way, you also have to consider that when we are ‘down under’ everything is also upside down to you guys, but that’s a totally different story and I’m not even going to go there.

    • Peter

      Coriolis effect. Check your bathtub. Left in the US, right in Australia.

      (PS. I know two people who worked on the P76 development. They fitted a flat plane crank to improve torque or power but it never made it to production because the engine was too rough.)

  18. Johnny Gibson

    When I was in the industry they were known as the Leyland P38 because they were only half a car. They were pretty rough builds but occasionally a good one would come along where you could travel 100 miles without losing any of the trim.

  19. Gay Car Nut

    Good looking car. It’s a damn shame that it wasn’t on the market for very long before being discontinued. However poor quality control may have been, I believe that if a car is on the market long enough, any problems can be fixed and then people might be more willing to spend their A$s.

  20. RicK

    Did not know that this car existed until today – thank you BF!

  21. Tricky

    Big, heavy, and considered very ugly by most. It was the only Aussie full-size sedan that could fit a 44-gallon drum in the boot (trunk to you Yanks!). It suffered from poor build quality with terrible quality control. The motor was a gem though, with heaps of them finding their way into boats via off-the-shelf kits to marinise them! Now considered a bit of a cult car, they have a decent following here in Oz. Still, you can’t get away from the fact that they look like ass to most of us – but hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? This was about Leyland’s last ditch attempt at trying to stay afloat in Australia, and it failed terribly. The only car worse than the P76 was the Morris Marina – which was also part of British Leyland. By 1983 it was all over, and the only division of Leyland Australia to ever make money was their bus division!!

  22. Gay Car Nut

    Its quality may have been piss-poor, but weren’t most cars built in the 1970s? Other than Japanese cars, and some German cars.

  23. t-bone Bob

    “Unfortunately, it was introduced during a period when many Australian automotive component manufacturers were being ravaged by industrial disputes. Add a slowing economy, double-digit inflation and the 1974 oil crisis to the mix, and the P76 was in serious trouble from day one.”

    Besides being uglier than sin. Gee, wonder why it failed.

    1
    • Garry

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Australian big three (Holden, Falcon, Valiant) around that time had some models that needed a mother’s eye to locate anything other than ugly!

      1
  24. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    Sadly, I have to agree with you regarding when it was produced. Even here in the USA, there were industrial disputes, economic roller coasters, and emissions and safety regs. It’s no damn wonder the automotive industry is tanking. I have to disagree with you about how it looks. I actually find it a handsome looking car. :)

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.