On the road

Australian Muscle Car - - Stillborn Muscle -

If you’ve ever driven a Ley­land P76 V8 sedan then you have driven a Force 7V coupe. They’re kin in ev­ery way – the in­cred­i­ble roomi­ness, the huge width of the car, the enor­mous bon­net stretch­ing out be­fore you, and the feel­ing of the whole thing not be­ing screwed to­gether quite the way you’d ex­pect or want.

The driv­ing po­si­tion was very good, de­spite not hav­ing an ad­justable steer­ing col­umn or height-vari­able driver’s seat. The soft-rimmed

steer­ing wheel had a far nicer feel than the hard plas­tic P76 rim, but er­gonom­i­cally it was the same night­mare with poorly placed switches that served more for the stylist than the driver. In this re­spect it was no worse than its com­peti­tors.

But it was a vastly dif­fer­ent story on the road – the Force 7V was markedly su­pe­rior to its com­pe­ti­tion and showed them up for what they re­ally were – medi­ocre at best.

Its rack and pin­ion steer­ing had a di­rect, pos­i­tive feel to it that was very Euro­pean and re­spon­sive, as was the ride/han­dling sus­pen­sion com­pro­mise. Although un­der­steer was the dom­i­nant char­ac­ter­is­tic, the big coupe could be very en­ter­tain­ing and safe in skilled hands. Turn-in was sharp with ex­cel­lent feel at the rim of the wheel with good ‘seat of the pants’ feel com­ing through the sus­pen­sion to tell the driver ex­actly what was go­ing on at the four con­tact patches.

Brak­ing was good, too, although the big coupe’s weight and the nar­row­ness of the tyres stretched the disc/drum setup, but they felt good with a pedal that could be eas­ily mod­u­lated to avoid lockup.

But the jewel in the Force 7V’s crown, and the P76 for that mat­ter, was the alu­minium al­loy 4.4-litre V8 en­gine un­der the bon­net. Spe­cially de­vel­oped for Aus­tralia from the Rover (and ex-GM) 3.5 litre V8, it pro­duced a handy144kW.

It was re­ally an en­gine that pos­sessed two char­ac­ters. It had co­pi­ous amounts of torque for the typ­i­cally lazy Aus­tralian driver who ei­ther took the au­to­matic op­tion or dropped the man­ual gear­box in top gear and left it there; or it had the abil­ity to rev freely into the 4500-5000rpm re­gion with alacrity for the enthusiast driver. Ei­ther way, it was smooth and vi­bra­tion-free, with well-matched ra­tios in the 4-speed man­ual ‘box. And the bur­bly ex­haust made it a worth­while au­ral ex­pe­ri­ence!

Writ­ing in Mus­cle Cars No. 2, Peter Robin­son road tested a Force 7V and achieved a max­i­u­mum speed of 172km/h, with a 0 - 110 km/h time of 12.3 seconds.

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