Prior to P76, Leyland Australia and its antecedent BMC (Australia) had not fielded a direct competitor in this market sector, which dominated the Australian car market. P76 was intended to provide that competitor.
Previously, BMC and Leyland had tried to compete in this market segment with a variety of cars: the 1958 Morris Marshall (a rebadged Austin A95); the 1962 Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80 (the Freeway was an Austin A60 with Riley 4/72 tail lights, a unique full width grille and a 2.4 litre 6-cylinder version of the 1622 cc B-series engine; the Wolseley was a 6-cylinder version of the Wolseley 16/60); and the 1971 Austin "X6" Tasman and Kimberley (facelifted Austin 1800s with the 6-cylinder 2.2 litre E-series engine.)
Each of these cars was a compromise, and the motoring public ignored these cars as challengers to the dominant local models. Nonetheless, the Freeway, 24/80 and the X6s each developed a loyal following.
Launched in 1973, it was nicknamed "the wedge", on account of its shape, with a large boot (trunk), able to easily hold a 44 gallon drum. Although station wagon and "Force 7" coupé versions were designed, these never went into mass production.
The official line was that the P76 was an original Australian design with no overseas counterpart. 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.
Notwithstanding the advertising slogan ("Anything but average") the P76s engineering followed conventional lines.
It did offer a combination of features which were novel in this category in Australia at the time: rack and pinion steering, McPherson strut front suspension, front hinged bonnet and concealed windscreen wipers; as well as the familiar: Australian made Borg Warner gearboxes (including 3 speed column shift) and a live rear axle.
Particular attention was paid to structural rigidity, a British Leyland engineering strength. This goal was aided by a conscious effort to reduce the number of panels needed to build the car's body — a remarkably low 215.
Hence, notwithstanding generally favourable press and public reaction to the car, sales did not reach expectations.
British Leyland announced plans to sell P76 in the UK. However, production ceased before these plans could come to fruition.
The car achieved success in the 1974 World Cup Rally- winning the Targa Florio trophy. Leyland Australia celebrated this victory by releasing a limited edition Targa Florio model: the V8 Super with sports wheels and steering wheel, as well as special paintwork, including side stripes.
Leyland Australia sold off eight Force 7 coupé prototypes to the public in an auction. Two other Force 7Vs have passed through the hands of a UK collector (one of which may have been sent to New Zealand), and one is at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood Mill in South Australia.
A smaller sister car, the P82, also designed by Michelotti and intended to replace the Morris Marina in Australia, was never produced.
After production of the P76 ceased, Leyland Australia limited its local production to the Mini produced at Enfield and commercial vehicles and buses.
Model, Version, (Model Code), Production
Deluxe, Column Auto 6, (2C26) - 2118
Deluxe, Column Manual 6, (2N26) - 2342
Deluxe, 4 Speed Manual 6, (2M26) - 516
Deluxe, Column Auto V8, (2C44) - 1532
Deluxe, Column Manual V8, (2N44) - 1281
Deluxe, 4 Speed Manual V8, (2M44) - 380
Deluxe Total - 8169
Super, Column Auto 6, (3C26) - 1132
Super, T-Bar Auto 6, (3A26) - 380
Super, 4 Speed Manual 6, (3M26) - 719
Super, Column Auto V8, (3C44) - 1928
Super, T-Bar Auto V8, (3A44) - 2256 (including Targa Florio model)
Super, 4 Speed Manual V8, (3M44) - 1047
Super Total - 7462
Executive, T-Bar Auto V8, (4A44) - 2376
Executive Total - 2376