- Hatch variant of short-lived P76
- Potential rival to big Aussie coupes
- Most cars were crushed by Leyland Australia
ONE of just 10 surviving prototype Leyland Force 7 hatchbacks has been listed for sale on auction site Grays.com.
Leyland Australia and predecessor BMC sold cars in Australia since the 1950s, claiming a strong share in the small car market. However, they had no direct competitor for the large family cars produced by local giants Chrysler, Ford and Holden.
In response, Leyland released the P76 in 1973 after a four-year development program, claiming the prestigious Wheels Car of the Year title on debut. The sedan featured an optional aluminium 4.4-litre V8 derived from the Rover 3500 and Range Rover, making it considerably lighter than its iron-blocked contemporaries.
The company planned to not only challenge the sedan market, but also do battle in the coupe sector – taking on the Charger, Falcon and Monaro with their own muscle car.
With that in mind, the Force 7 range was announced in 1974, and would have become one of Australia’s first locally built hatchbacks. Unlike the compromised rear seats of other Aussie coupes, the Force 7 was intended to comfortably seat five adults.
Three different trim levels were to be produced: a base-model Force 7 with a six-cylinder as standard, a V8-powered Force 7V and a GT-style Tour de Force.
Ultimately, the Force 7 was killed off after approximately 56 prototypes were built. Rushed assembly of the P76 led to subpar quality control and a poor reputation among buyers, while Australia’s fuel crisis continued to drive down large-car sales. Just 18,000 P76s were sold before production ended in October 1974.
In 1975, Leyland Australia decided to auction off eight of the mid-range Force 7Vs. In what was allegedly an effort to inflate the prices of these cars, all other examples (aside from two retained by Leyland) were crushed. The highest value realised at the 1975 Grays auction was $10,010 for a white four-speed car with 69km recorded. All 10 Force 7s have survived the past four decades, with eight still in Australia and two of those stored in museums.
This particular Force 7V is an automatic, optioned with a/c, power steering and twin exhaust system, and has travelled 28,751km.
You can view the auction listing at Grays.com.