David Hardy reveals Italians sabotaged P76

Riley Riley

After 40 years, everyone seems to have a story to tell about the ill-fated, homegrown Leyland P76.

Leyland Australia Designer David Hardy is one of the few remaining men who were at the birth of the P76 and regrettably also present at its untimely end.

The P76 and sports coupe-hatchback Force 7, promised to redefine what Australian new car buyers could expect in a new family car and performance motoring.

But since the launch of the 1973 Wheels Car of the Year, it has effectively been shrouded in mystery, the butt of many jokes, remaining largely misunderstood and an unknown story.

Until now.

Sworn to secrecy at the time, with a promise never to share, David Hardy reveals how his boss believed the initial Australian design concept for the P76 was sabotaged by the Italian design studio responsible for tweaking the final designs.

The Italians had their own version of how Australian cars should look and a cash strapped BMC in the UK needed sales quicker than Leyland Australia could build them.

Design To Driveway Hardy 1


The all new P76 Australian sedan was approved based on only quarter scale models, not full-sized clays.

Leyland Australia had the Ford Falcon, Holden Kingswood and Chrysler Valiant in their sights.

Initially, demand for the P76 far exceeded supply.

Leyland rushed the assembly process, but the first P76s to come off the assembly line suffered from poor build quality and ongoing product reliability issues, which resulted in the car being labelled a lemon.

Fast forward and Leyland terminated the P76 and Force 7 programs.

Then, not long after, Leyland left Australian soil.

David wanted to explain what happened with this much misunderstood Australian made car and set the record straight.

Did the car kill the Company or did the Company kill the Car?

Watch and make up your own mind.

Shannons Design to Driveway series is an unprecedented look behind the scenes of Australian car design, told by the men and women who shaped and styled some of the most iconic and loved cars ever built.

This original series from Shannons celebrates the men and women who have designed our local cars for nearly a century. It is the one piece of our motoring history, that has remained largely untold.

For the first time, seven of Australia’s most influential car designers over the past seven decades come together to take motor enthusiasts on an exclusive walk into the archives of Australian car design.

There’s Leo Pruneau (Holden Chief Designer), David Ford (Ford Australia Product Planner), Dennis Nicolle (Chrysler Australia/Mitsubishi Australia Designer), Phil Zmood (Holden Chief Designer), David Hardy (Leyland Australia Designer), Graham Wadsworth (Ford Australia Designer) and finally Richard Ferlazzo (Holden Chief Designer).

Each of the featured designers, reveal exclusive images, designs and the original clay models from the ‘big four’ Australian car companies.

Each episode is hosted by motoring journalist and artist Warren Brown who retraces the careers of each designer, while motor historian David Burrell provides viewers with context during each episode.

You can catch all episodes, including the story of the P76 here as they go to air.


CHECKOUT: Designers share secrets about Aussie cars

CHECKOUT: P76 giant flop despite award

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