By 21 September 2013 12 Comments Read More →

Leyland P76 : Force 7V Coupe version

The P76 saloon look set for a successful run in Australia, and during its development programme, an estate version, pickup and this – the Force 7V coupe – were developed. And here are some new development images to enjoy.

When the fortunes of Leyland Australia took a turn for the worse, the coupe became a victim of rationalization. Only a few survive to this day, including one that was owned by Lord Stokes, and which until recently, resided in the UK…

Two-door. Big-hitter. Near miss.

It is obvious from the above picture that the Force 7 shared no external panels with the P76 Sedan; and it had a certain style. In profile, it doesn't look too bad at all!

It is obvious from the above picture that the Force 7 shared no external panels with the P76 saloon; and it had a certain style.

The Force 7 came about as part of Leyland Australia’s plan to rebuild its reputation, using the promising P76 range of cars as the starting point. According to Adavanced Model Group (AMG) deputy leader, Barry Anderson, a coupe version was necessary in order to give Leyland an image boost in comparison to its bigger local rivals: ‘At the time, the family station wagon was a key element of our strategy of matching Holden, Ford and Chrysler because the wagon models accounted for some forty per cent of their sales volume… the coupe, or S2 as it was originally known, was only ever going to be a niche model for us. We saw it as an aspirational model for those who were seeking something different but also felt they had to buy a locally made car.’

Considering the tiny A$21 million budget Leyland had its disposal to cover the entire P76 programme, it is amazing to note that the coupe model shared no exterior panels with the P76 Saloon. It is also interesting to note that had the P76 Force 7V entered full-scale production, it would have been Australia’s first locally-designed hatchback.

Reg Fulford, the senior programme engineer for the P76 stated that, ‘…we were well aware of the risks, we went into the S2 part of the programme with our eyes wide open… there was little option but to use a different design over the same mechanical components.’

Styling mock-up showcased the unique styling treatment of the P76V.

Styling mock-up showcased the unique styling treatment of the P76V.

Scale model of the P76V in profile shows that the styling of the final car made it to full-size almost untouched.

Scale model of the P76V in profile shows that the styling of the final car made it to full-size almost untouched.

Full-sized mock-up shot in the UK, and some appealing-looking mock alloy-wheels.

Full-sized mock-up, shot possibly in Italy, and some appealing-looking mock alloy-wheels.

Obviously, the car had promise: John Mackesy, who worked on the project, related, ‘…I did quite a bit of driving of the S2, and have to say I remember it very fondly. It was a real driver’s vehicle and apart from being stylish was a very practical load carrier. I always thought it had possibilities for camping, too.’

Unfortunately, Leyland Australia collapsed before the P76 could reach fruition and the axe fell on the rest of the range. As it was, 58 cars were built in late 1973 for the planned launch in February 1974, before the plug was pulled. This run of now extinct models were ordered to the crusher – and in doing so they were driven from Zetland (The Leyland-Enfield plant in Sydney) to the Enfield Transport Terminal, where they were loaded onto trucks to take them to the Simsmetal scrap metal dealers.

Leyland P76 in technical detail.

Leyland P76 in technical detail.

Of these, 10 cars were auctioned off on the understanding that they were ‘Uncompliant’ for road useage (they had been complianced for use in Australia, but had their VIN plates removed), but most were subsequently registered anyway! One of these was shipped to the UK for evaluation, and was apparently used during the development of the SD1 (the Rover Sports Register reportedly accepts it as an SD1 prototype!). The car was later used by Lord Stokes as his personal transport, before being sold via auction to an enthusiast.

John Mackesy, who was at the auction, recalled, ‘I attended the auction where the 10 survivors were sold, and was also present when the prototypes and (pre?) production vehicles were destroyed. This was accomplished by dropping body dies on them from a large forklift, as I recall. They certainly weren’t driven anywhere outside the plant. As to the vehicle at Birdwood Mill (Adelaide) I drove this on a number of occasions, and in fact tuned and detailed it prior to its being sent away. I’m glad to see it still survives.’

According to Warrewyk Williams, all ten of these Force 7s survive to this day.

The surviving ten Force 7 trim/colour combinations:

Body colour Interior colour Transmission Notes
Yellow White Manual N/A
Yellow Brown Automatic N/A
Green White Manual N/A
Green White Automatic N/A
Orange Black Manual N/A
Orange Brown Manual N/A
Orange White Automatic N/A
White Black Automatic N/A
Brown White Manual Retained by Leyland,
now in Birdwood Motor Museum
Blue White Automatic Ex-Lord Stokes, originally shipped to UK – now back in New Zealand

Table information supplied by Warrewyk Williams.

The white interior was extremely roomy. The steering wheel is particularly ugly, even if the crash padding is effective

The white interior was extremely roomy. The steering wheel is particularly ugly, even if the crash padding is effective

  • Thanks to Norman Julian for image permission.


Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

12 Comments on "Leyland P76 : Force 7V Coupe version"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    The technical drawing – to me – seems to show that the Force 7V uses a tailgate almost identical to the SD1’s. Wonder if it’s actually the same thing?

  2. Ian Elliott says:

    No, the Force 7 tailgate is much squarer at the top than the SD1 item, which tapers.
    As a member of the Rover Sports Register since 1974, I have no idea where the claim that the Force 7 was recognised by the club as an SD1 prototype came from. Unless the word prototype is being somewhat misused to cover all manner of ‘mules’ and simulators. It is, or was, common to use different vehicles of similar size and weight to test components of new cars (e.g. some R40 75 work was done using 800 Coupes, because these two door cars were closer to the torsional stiffness of the new car) but that doesn’t qualify them as prototypes!

  3. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    Thanks Ian, nice insight there.

    That begs the question – maybe we should write a piece on what the differences are between concept, prototype, mule, simulator, etc… and what stages of development they’re used in. I am sure I’m forever getting the terms wrong.

  4. Hilton D says:

    Not a bad looker was it? In profile it reminds me of the first Audi Coupe / circa 1973

  5. tr_man says:

    Were the seats from the XJ-S?

  6. alex scott says:

    I think this would have been a great machine for the 70s 🙂 every kid would have wanted the matchbox car ! alex

  7. Nate says:

    Seeing as it is much bigger than the Ford Capri and afaik had no V8 peers in the Coupe class, had the Force 7 Coupe made its way to the UK what would be it’s closest rivals?

    Also, it would have been fascinating to see a mid-late 70s facelifted Force 7 Coupe face off against a Vauxhall Royale / Opel Monza V8 (using the stillborn 195 hp / 245lb-ft 4.0 Vauxhall V8 derived from the Vauxhall Slant Four- and a Windsor V8-powered Ford Capri with similar styling to the Ford Falcon Cobra (with elements of the FAT Capri and Dave Brodie Capri).

  8. Rodrigo says:

    Certainly it have an Audi-esque look, but it’s me or both Force 7 and Audi looks very much like a bigger Bagheera?

  9. Phil Simpson says:

    Looks much better than the saloon version.

  10. Peter Wilding says:

    I was a teenager when all the scoop publicity about these hit the magazines. Then P76 production was halted, and the Force 7 was scrapped. But they had already printed the owner’s manuals – all you had to do was write to Leyland to get one. Being a car-crazy teenager, I did. I still have it somewhere, in a Leyland Australia envelope.

    BTW, there was a three model range planned: Force 7, Force 7V and Tour de Force (groan!)

  11. Steve says:

    Looks uglier than the saloon, the side profile (especially the placement of the door, too short and too far forward) is horrendous. The front is just as awkward and fussy as the saloon, and the car has a parts-bin feel to it where nothing really fits together or looks happy. I think a study by BL into a coupe SD1 instead would have borne far more fruit…

    • Stuart says:

      Virtually everything you said is wrong. I saw them on the line, I drove them, I saw them get crushed. ;-(

      In the flesh they were gorgeous. Much better than the sedan; and the wagon (which they should left till after Force 7 released)

Have your say...