Never made the showroom
Sadly for Leyland Australia it was not to be, however. The car that generated unheard-of levels of publicity for the company never saw the
inside of a showroom. Disappointing no doubt for the enthusiastic members of the Advanced Model Group team that had devoted years of their professional lives bringing the P76 program to market.
The Force 7V was an idiosyncratic car in many ways, particularly its styling which was a mixture of the spectacular and overtly aggressive that did not gel in the way that perhaps it could and should have, given the stylist’s experience and reputation. Its nose cone was distinctive and projected a sense of power and purpose, but it extended to the edge of the bumper(!) and so was not protected.
The rear, by contrast, was severely plain and had a ‘jacked up’ look about it.
The overhang of the very wide body over the wheels gave the Force 7 an amateurish appearance even though it ran on 6” wheel rims. Viewed from behind, it looks grossly under-tyred. Wider wheels or, better, wider tracks front and rear to fill the wheel arches, would have made a huge difference to the coupe’s appearance and no doubt road holding.
The Leyland P76 and its sibling Force 7 did pioneer in Australia a couple of interesting design features that would later appear on most other makes – the locating of the wipers and heater fan in the valley at the base of the windscreen; and the rear hatch with fold-down rear seat versatility.
And what about the coupe’s name? Marketing director John Kay claims authorship of that. He was driving back to the factory in a prototype during one of Sydney’s violent summer storms with winds that reached force 7 on the Beaufort scale of wind speed measurement. It seemed like an ideal name for a coupe that was going to take Australia by storm and Kay successfully sold the concept to Leyland management.
That storm dissipated when the Force 7 was being readied for the press and dealer release. The whole British Leyland thing imploded and the plant was forced to close.
Some 58 Force 7V (V for V8 model) had been built – some complete, many not – and eight of the 10 that escaped the crusher were later sold through public auction (see breakout).
Above: The 4.4-litre OHV V8 engine produced 144kW. It was also the starting point for a competition version that should have seen Leyland line-up on the grid at Bathurst against the V8 Falcons and Toranas.