Leyland P76 - buyer & value guide

By: Cliff Chambers, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

leyland P76 The big P76 remains an important locally-developed car. leyland P76

Loved and loathed when it was first launched, the P76 is finding a new audience.

The P76 has to be the most controversial and misunderstood car ever built in this country. They haven’t been sold new in over 40 years yet everyone seems to have an opinion and intimate knowledge of the big Leyland.

Several hundred people today do own surviving P76s. Several thousand more - the writer included - have owned at least one and in general we came away not too scarred.

The car that appeared in 1973 should have been a thumping success. It won that year’s Wheels magazine ‘Car Of The Year’ award at a canter and orders flooded in. However the factory was underprepared and its workforce poorly trained.

The shape was created in conjunction with Leyland styling consultant Giovanni Michelotti. Someone said, possibly in jest, that the boot had to hold a 44 gallon (205 litre) drum and the interior needed to accommodate six broad-shouldered Aussies.

Quite a few P76s were built as six-seaters and often found work in the cab industry. The car was available with a 2.6-litre six-cylinder engine but the straight six looked lost in the huge engine bay. Potential buyers were worried that its size and apparent weight would translate into high fuel costs but appearances were deceptive.

Despite being physically larger than all its competitors except the VJ Valiant, the P76 in Super trim with a V8 engine weighed only 1300kg.

Even when strangled by a single-pipe exhaust, undersized carburettor and inadequate cooling system the V8 four-speed managed 0-96km/h in 8.9 seconds and 17L/100km. Cars with dual pipes and the cylinder heads modified could shave two seconds off the acceleration time and use 15 percent less fuel.

Inside was what the tabloids referred to as ‘sprawl space’ and behind the passenger area the biggest load area ever offered by an Australian car with a conventional boot.

In 1974 a car crewed by former BMC PR boss Evan Green and seasoned navigator John Bryson tacked the World Cup rally that ran for a large part of its journey through African desert. There the P76 broke a strut but not before registering fastest time on the winding and challenging Targa Florio special stage.


Joining the ranks of P76 owners will usually involve membership of a club (of which there are several) and joining the queue for any car that happens to be offered for sale.

The ones that occasionally popped up as trade-ins on country car lots seem to have all gone but during 2016 a V8 Super in outstanding condition did find its way into an auction sale, selling for $26,000. Another very decent car sold recently for $14,000 and a Targa Florio needing cosmetics topped $20,000.

Four-speed V8s attract buyers and money but don’t overlook a three-speed column shift V8 as these can be adapted to accept the four-speed ‘single-rail’ gearbox.

A lot of P76s have undergone complete restorations, mechanical upgrades and in some instances complete repaints with trim to match. Looking to own a car long-term, especially where parts are scarce, can involve some compromises in the area of authenticity so quite often you will find the genuine component replaced by an item adapted from another brand.



Lightweight construction and indifferent rust proofing sent lots of Leylands to early graves. Wheel- arches, lower front mudguards, the bonnet and boot-lid are common spots for bubbling. However the car killers are rusty inner sills, the bottom of the centre pillar and window surrounds. Structural parts generally need to be made and that gets expensive but Club sources can supply a surprising number of new and used items including door skins, lights, grilles and bumpers. Check to that the rear window is firmly sealed and isn’t leaking water. Also peek under the boot mat and in the spare wheel well.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Inadequate or defective cooling systems allow cylinder heads to warp, causing oil leaks and blown gaskets. Make absolutely sure that the radiator is free of oil scum and there is no milky residue under the oil filler neck or dipstick. Early cars cracked piston skirts and rings causing damage to cylinder liners. This shouldn’t be a problem now but be wary of rattling noises and oil smoke. P76 clubs hold stocks of engine parts. The Borg-Warner four-speed gearbox was shared with Fords and Valiants and parts remain available. Fitting a twin-plate Charger clutch can eliminate the shudder experienced by V8 owners.


P76 springs were criticised for being too soft but when in good condition they do an excellent job of smoothing bumps while keeping the body relatively flat through bends. Original equipment shock absorbers were awful but they will all be long gone. If the car bounces excessively on rough surfaces or ‘floats’ on smooth roads, allow $600- 800 for some decent shocks. Also have a look at bushings, especially at the rear where the trailing arms need to be securely mounted. Front discs are adequate but if you’ve added some pep to the engine a rear disc conversion using Falcon parts is possible.


Trim was vinyl on most versions and easily replaced. The ‘Level 4’ Executive had special cloth covering which is difficult to match. Door trims appear occasionally in the classifieds but if the car isn’t ‘concours’ a retrim that simply matches your seats will get you out of trouble. Dash switches seem easy to find but there has been for some time a problem when the column- mounted indicator stalk fails. Repairs are possible using Valiant parts but the process is fiddly.


FAIR $5000

GOOD $13,000


(Concours and special  cars will demand more.)

Numbers from our 2017-18 Muscle Cars Value Guide.

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

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