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92/301 Automobile, full size, Leyland P76 Super V-8 Saloon, engine No. 076D4SM44/16461, build date 21-5/74, and books (2), metal / plastic / rubber / glass / paper, made by Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Limited, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1974, used by Jack Lawler, Condobolin, New. Click to enlarge.

1974 Leyland P76 Super V-8 Saloon

Made
The Leyland P76 motor car was a product of its time. But times changed too quickly for the makers of this highly innovative car. Not surprisingly, as a product released in 1973, P76 typified Australian desires of the late 1960s when its development began with an emphasis on market research. P76 was big, it looked distinctively different from Chrysler, GMH or Ford offerings, it was economical for its size, but used lots of cheap petrol, it accommodated six people in comfort and was for 'Dad' to drive. (These very Australian requirements for a car were to wane during the "oil crisis" on 1972-1974, but were stronger than ever from 1979 onwards when Ford's bigger than ever XD-XF Falcon series gained market leadership). The car had innovative features like concealed wipers, side intrusion bars in the doors, a safety bonnet, front disc brakes as standard and an isolated fuel tank to meet public concerns about car safety.

In addition, the team who developed the P76 wanted to make it uniquely Australian in character so an enormous boot was designed to carry family luggage and camping equipment on long Australian holidays. It could even hold a 44 gallon (194 litre) drum, a bid to get farmers to swap their Holden utes for a P76!

To make P76 different to its American styled competitors, the Italian stylist Michelotti was employed to add some European flair to its appearance. He employed a 'flying wedge' shape, not used by other car makers such as Nissan until the 1980s.

The package was completed by an unprecedented television and press advertising campaign to promote the P76 as 'anything but average'. Leyland even installed a telephone hotline for customers and gave away cufflinks, ties and tie pins.

The Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of the day even said: "Working conditions at...Leylands are significantly better than those at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler". (Leyland revised work practice and introduced worker consultation schemes for P76 production).

The P76's time, however, was artificially short. Like Nissan's Australian made Pulsar in 1992, the car without a name was awarded the "Wheels" magazine "Car of the year" award in 1973. In part, the citation said: "The...totally new Leyland sedan emerged as a dynamic and remarkably fine motor car, surely destined to push Leyland up the ladder, both in Australia and in export markets".

In 1972, Australians had elected a Labor government and began a roller-coaster ride of economic instability and swift social reform. This affected the way Australian's approached the environment, the role of women and the economy. Three important factors were to affect the P76:
1. Women became more influential in all matters and they thought the P76 was too big, and in response to the "oil crisis" opted for small to medium cars.
2. Rampant inflation through high wage rises and production lost through industrial unrest changed the economic viability of manufacturing. At the same time, the Leyland production line took almost a year to 'settle in', and quality control became a problem. Despite this in 1973, Leyland had more orders than cars after the Car of the Year award. A comparison to this in car history can be seen with Ford's 1989 Capri production line which produced many faulty cars in the first year. However, Ford had a capital base in Australia that enabled them to produce a so-called 'half' model to rectify problems and re-establish lost reputation. Leyland also planned, but was not permitted to invest in a facelift, with a station wagon and sports car version of P76 to recover lost face.
3. In 1973 the "oil crisis" struck, doubling petrol prices almost overnight. By 1974, the panic made Australians buy small to medium sized cars. While Ford and GMH sold Cortina and Torana beside their big Falcons and Kingswoods, and Chrysler introduced a fully imported Centura to sell beside the Valiant, Leyland had no viable stable mate for P76. Even though it was 2km/1 more economical than its direct competitors, the P76 was no competition for small to medium cars.

As a result, in a shock decision, British Leyland decided to cease production in Australia of all but speciality vehicles and the super-economy micro car, the Morris Mini.

In October 1974, the P76 went out with the bathwater, even though there was a station wagon and sports version (the stunning Jensen like Force 7 hatchback) in the wings.

Production officially ceased in November 1974 after 7 years of work, $21 million spent in development and almost 18,000 P76's were built. The closure became a focus of Sydney's tabloid press and was accompanied by ugly scenes as 5,000 people lost their jobs. The Federal Labour government, elected for its new socialist ideals, refused to nationalise Leyland, the unions were disenchanted, the already straining public purse was relieved.

The P76 story reached mythical proportions after Leyland left its car an orphan in Australia. Resale values plummeted as dealerships and service centres closed, without model updates and proper servicing, quirky design flaws appeared such as door windows falling in! P76's were relegated to poor neighbourhoods and noisy teenagers. The car was eventually shamed in a television advertisement for tyres in the mid 1980s showing a P76 with its tyres outlasting the car!

By looking at a pristine example of the P76 today, however, and with the embellished hindsight of 20 years exposed, visitors to the museum may take a different attitude to the car, understand the circumstances in which it was produced, and see it as an example of a truly Australian innovation in design and production that was a successful product whose time was missed.

Summary

Object No.

92/301

Object Statement

Automobile, full size, Leyland P76 Super V-8 Saloon, engine No. 076D4SM44/16461, build date 21-5/74, and books (2), metal / plastic / rubber / glass / paper, made by Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Limited, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1974, used by Jack Lawler, Condobolin, New South Wales, Australia, 1974-1977

Physical Description

Automobile, full size, Leyland P76 Super V-8 Saloon, engine No. 076D4SM44/16461, build date 21-5/74, and books (2), metal / plastic / rubber / glass / paper, made by Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Limited, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1974, used by Jack Lawler, Condobolin, New South Wales, Australia, 1974-1977

The Leyland P76 is an Aspen green 4-door Super saloon with cream plastic upholstered seats, brown loop pile fitted carpets and a black and silver plastic instrument panel. The radiator grille has seven horizontal bars with two headlights on either side. The number plate is black with white characters "P76". Affixed to the inside of the rear window is a sticker boasting "I'm driving the car of the year". On the front of the car is a central hexagonal shield with an "L" and badges on the front quarter panels read "SUPER" and "V-EIGHT".

The car has a limited slip differential, Force 7 style steering wheel, electric aerial, rear radio speaker, mudflaps and chrome petrol cap. Some non-standard features are the under dash MkIV air-conditioning, radiator overflow tank, rear sway bar and heavy duty shock absorbers, oil sump guard retro-fitted by the owner when new.

Accompanying the car is a softcover workshop manual, a softcover parts manual, a stone guard, muffler, two exhaust pipes and two boxes of spare parts.

Marks

'P76' and '8' appear on the right hand side of the boot of the car and a sticker on the rear window reads 'I'm driving the car of the year'. On the front of the car is a central hexagonal shield with an 'L' on it and on the front quarter panels are badges that say 'SUPER' and 'V-EIGHT'. Engine number on chassi and compliance plate 076D4SM44/16461, build date 21-5/74.

Dimensions

Height

1352 mm

Width

1879 mm

Production

Notes

This Leyland P76 was made by the Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Ltd in the Zetland factory in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1974.

History

Notes

This Leyland P76 car was purchased at auction by the Museum in Condobolin in 1992. It's original owner was Jack Lawler of Jack Lawler Motors, Condobolin, in the central west of New South Wales. At the time of its acquisition the car had a mileage of 43,362 km on the odometer. Mr Lawler had purchased the car in 1974 when he was a Leyland dealer and used it for about three years until he won a BMW car in an Art Union lottery. He put the car on blocks and stored it until 1992 when it was sold as part of an auction of the dealership premises, workshop and stock.

Jack Lawler was a very well respected citizen of Condobolin. In 1986 he was awarded the 1986 Paul Harris Fellowship award for his service to community through the Rotary Club of Condobolin and in 2005 was Condobolin Senior Citizen of the Year. He was active in the local Ambulance Committee for 21 years fundraising and as a volunteer driver and 29 years on the local hospital board and its chairman for 23 of them. At the time of his death, aged 90, in 2006 he was the president of the Condobolin Vintage Car Club. He was buried in Condobolin General Cemetery.

The Leyland P76 motor car was a product of its time. But times changed too quickly for the makers of this highly innovative car. Not surprisingly, as a product released in 1972, P76 typified Australian desires of the late 1960s when its development began with an emphasis on market research. P76 was big, it looked distinctively different from Chrysler, GMH or Ford offerings, it was economical its size but used lots of cheap petrol, it accommodated six people in comfort and was for 'Dad' to drive. (These very Australian requirements for a car were to wane during the "oil crisis" on 1972-1974, but were stronger than ever from 1979 onwards when Ford's bigger than ever XD-XF Falcon series gained market leadership). The car had innovative features like concealed wipers, side intrusion bars in the doors, a safety bonnet, front disc brakes as standard and an isolated fuel tank to meet public concerns about car safety.

In addition, the team who developed the P76 wanted to make it uniquely Australian in character so an enormous boot was designed to carry family luggage and camping equipment on long Australian holidays. It could even hold a 44 gallon (194 litre) drum, a bid to get farmers to swap their Holden utes for a P76!

To make P76 different to its American styled competitors, the Italian stylist Michelotti was employed to add some European flair to its appearance. He employed a 'flying wedge' shape, not used by other car makers such as Nissan until the 1980s.

The package was completed by an unprecedented television and press advertising campaign to promote the P76 as 'anything but average'. Leyland even installed a telephone hotline for customers and gave away cufflinks, ties and tie pins.

The Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of the day even said: "Working conditions at...Leylands are significantly better than those at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler". (Leyland revised work practice and introduced worker consultation schemes for P76 production).

The P76's time, however, was artificially short. Like Nissan's Australian made Pulsar in 1992, the car without a name was awarded the "Wheels" magazine "Car of the year" award in 1973. In part, the citation said: "The...totally new Leyland sedan emerged as a dynamic and remarkably fine motor car, surely destined to push Leyland up the ladder, both in Australia and in export markets".

In 1972, Australians had elected a Labor government and began a roller-coaster ride of economic instability and swift social reform. This affected the way Australian's approached the environment, the role of women and the economy. Three important factors were to affect the P76:
1. Women became more influential in all matters and they thought the P76 was too big, and in response to the "oil crisis" opted for small to medium cars.
2. Rampant inflation through high wage rises and production lost through industrial unrest changed the economic viability of manufacturing. At the same time, the Leyland production line took almost a year to 'settle in', and quality control became a problem. Despite this in 1973, Leyland had more orders than cars after the Car of the Year award. A comparison to this in car history can be seen with Ford's 1989 Capri production line which produced many faulty cars in the first year. However, Ford had a capital base in Australia that enabled them to produce a so-called 'half' model to rectify problems and re-establish lost reputation. Leyland also planned, but was not permitted to invest in a facelift, with a station wagon and sports car version of P76 to recover lost face.
3. In 1973 the "oil crisis" struck, doubling petrol prices almost overnight. By 1974, the panic made Australians buy small to medium sized cars. While Ford and GMH sold Cortina and Torana beside their big Falcons and Kingswoods, and Chrysler introduced a fully imported Centura to sell beside the Valiant, Leyland had no viable stable mate for P76. Even though it was 2km/1 more economical than its direct competitors, the P76 was no competition for small to medium cars.

As a result, in a shock decision, British Leyland decided to cease production in Australia of all but speciality vehicles and the super-economy micro car, the Morris Mini.

In October 1974, the P76 went out with the bathwater, even though there was a station wagon and sports version (the stunning Jensen like Force 7 hatchback) in the wings.

Production officially ceased in November 1974 after 7 years of work, $21 million spent in development and 17,000 P76's were built. The closure became a focus of Sydney's tabloid press and was accompanied by ugly scenes as 5,000 people lost their jobs. The Federal Labour government, elected for its new socialist ideals, refused to nationalise Leyland, the unions were disenchanted, the already straining public purse was relieved.

The P76 story reached mythical proportions after Leyland left its car an orphan in Australia. Resale values plummeted as dealerships and service centres closed, without model updates and proper servicing, quirky design flaws appeared such as door windows falling in! P76's were relegated to poor neighbourhoods and noisy teenagers. The car was eventually shamed in a television advertisement for tyres in the mid 1980s showing a P76 with its tyres outlasting the car!

By looking at a pristine example of the P76 today, however, and with the embellished hindsight of 20 years exposed, visitors to the museum may take a different attitude to the car, understand the circumstances in which it was produced, and see it as an example of a truly Australian innovation in design and production that was a successful product whose time was short.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1992

Acquisition Date

7 April 1992

Cite this Object

Harvard

1974 Leyland P76 Super V-8 Saloon 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 October 2020, <https://ma.as/126841>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/126841 |title=1974 Leyland P76 Super V-8 Saloon |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 October 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}