Leyland P76 : The estate that never was

The station wagon was a good looking addition to the Leyland P76 range, and one that didn’t see the light of day thanks to the closure of the Zetland plant in 1974.

Here’s its story, along with some new pictures taken during its development.

Lost Leyland

Leyland P76
This is the only known P76 station wagon in existence, and is owned by a collector from Sydney. Interestingly, for a low-budget effort, it used different rear door frames to the saloon version. (Picture supplied by Stuart Brown, from his P76 Website).

The Leyland P76 station wagon is another missed opportunity that shows just how much potential this large saloon from Australia actually had. Just like the Force 7V Coupe, it was a victim of both a severely limited development, and the ultimate closure of the Zetland factory.

Its development was well underway in 1973, when the decision was taken to curtail the programme in favour of the Force 7 coupes. The end result is that a mere three were built, of which only one is left – the white example in the picture above. According to the Leyland Club of Victoria, of the the three cars, plus a glass fibre mock-up (below), the first two were made by the ‘experimental’ department and undertook much testing before being destroyed.

The station wagon differed from the saloon by its unique rear doors and window frames. But it wasn’t a perfect estate conversion by any means – the rear tumblehome was considerable, while the standard wheelbase meant there was no more interior room than the saloon version. Although the definitive car had a split tailgate, it’s suggested that Leyland Australia also experimented with a single piece item.

Missed opprtunity or close escape?

Leyland P76 (4) Leyland P76 (6) Leyland P76 (7) Leyland P76 (9)

  • Thanks to Norman Julian for image permission.
Keith Adams
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    • As opposed to American cars built by American companies for Australia and a other outposts.

    • I can only agree, I would have guessed a Vauxhall, Pontiac or Holden when I saw the rear three-qaurter view.

  1. Steve, it’s not a full sizer by American standards, but it’s about the same size as popular intermediates like the Oldsmobile Cutlass, Ford Granada, and Plymouth Valiant (actually an Aussie rival). To Leyland’s credit, the P76 packed a giant boot compared to its size. If it were widely available at the time, it could’ve sold well in the US. Everything about it reminds me of the cars that I grew up with, without having actually been one.

  2. Dave @ 5, the Plymouth Valiant was called a Chrysler Valiant in Australia and survived until the end of Chrysler Australia in 1980. Quite a few survive over there, along with seventies Ford Falcons and Holden Kingswoods, to remind people of the era before the Japanese invasion when the big three dominated the market.

  3. It does look better than the sedan, still no beauty pagent winner, but an improvement.

    The tumble home on the tailgate & the rear light arrangement remind me a little of the XY Falcon wagon.

    Haven’t seen a P 38 on the roads here in Aus for a while- I must be due for a sighting soon,

  4. Hello the Wagon prototype as seen in the 1st pic has been restored over the last 10 to 15 years and is now registered on the roads around Sydney. The colour has been returned to the country cream “official” colour and the car was at the last 2 BMC ex employees reunion and the 40th P76 anniversary in Canberra in June. The owner also owns a home on the range Force 7 and a time warp 16,000 klm fully optioned Executive.
    Cheers Nick

  5. Hello all, a wikki search will tell you, the design began in the late 60’s, on a budjet of about 21 million autralian dollars. Completely designed and manufactured in Australia.With some test tooling and pressing in the UK in the early stages.The V8 is similar to the Rover 3500.Same heads, taller block, and capacity is 4.4 litres

  6. Building the wagon would have been a much better idea than concentrating on the force 7. At the time wagons were so popular that they could have sold many more ordinary, everyday wagons than sporty fast backs. At one stage in Australia the demand for wagons was a larger part of the market than any other country in the world, Holden used to make all the wagon kits for the J car range and exported them world wide, Vauxhall Cavaliers and the American equivelants etc. So putting a P76 wagon onto the local market would have sold well and maybe even saved Leyland Aus.???????

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