Leyland Australia

<I> Warwick Williams grey P76 rally car nicknamed "War Zone" (Birdville is in the desert)</I>
Warwick Williams grey P76 rally car nicknamed "War Zone" (Birdville is in the desert)

Leyland Australia, I think, assembled the Rover P6 vehicles at the Leyland plant in Zetland (about 6 kms south of Sydney). I could be wrong here as I'm not an expert on Rover. Leyland also had another plant at Moorebank about 40kms south-west of Sydney and while the P76 wasn't produced there I know they used to stockpile P76's at this location. Rovers may have been assembled here possibly.
I managed to contact one of the old Leyland Zetland plant managers some time ago and he told me that many British vehicles (MG's for instance) were delivered to the plant in kit form. In reality the cars were mostly assembled in Britain.

P6 with P76 parts!

The very late Rover P6 models actually received Force 7 wing mirrors rather than the chrome units with which the earlier models were fitted. This must have made the Aussie vehicles unique as I know for a fact the Force 7 mirrors were designed and made here in Australia. I have seen copies of the patent documentation including the electric versions that I believe were never fitted to a production vehicle.
Having said that though the Green/White Automatic Force 7V has electric mirrors - though the wiring is not connected!
As far as I know Leyland Australia and BMC Australia as it was formerly called, since about 1952 have built the following: Morris Minor 1000, Morris Major, Austin Freeway Wagon, Mini, Mini Moke, Austin 1800, Austin 1800 Utility, Austin Tasman, Austin Kimberly, Marina, Leyland P76.
All of these cars except for the P76 were based on British vehicles.
Some version were uniquely Australian like the Tasman and the Kimberly (which were based on the Austin 1800) and sported an east/west mounted 2.2litre 6 cylinder engine. (This was eventually taken out to 2.6litres and used in the P76 as well as the 4.4 litre alloy V8.)

Secret prototypes

Leyland did a huge amount of secret prototype work most of which, when discovered, ended up being shipped to England.
For instance an Austin Freeway wagon, based on the British Wolsey sedan, that was wider and longer and had an independant rear suspension unit. This was built in 1956 if memory serves me correctly. The ex BMC guys that told me this story said that the British management refused to let them put the car into production and ordered it shipped to England. It was claimed that the rear suspension unit was eventually used on the Series I Jaguar in 1961.
Austin 1800 Utility had modified suspension that was eventually used in all Austin 1800 vehicles. This suspension was developed in Australia but credit for the design was given to the British Austin design section. This story came from a chap who actually worked on this project.
A Rover 3.5 V8 was bored and stroked to 4.2litres and mounted North/South in an Austin 1800. It still drove the front wheels through a very modified Borg Warner 35 Automatic transmission. Two of these vehicle were built. The bonnet and front guards were four inches longer.
A 3.3litre alloy V6 powered Marina coupe. At least one was buit and shipped to England.

Leyland P82

There was to have been a P82 to replace the Marina. One may have been built and shipped to the UK in about 1975.
There were up to 4 P76 Station Wagons. Crystal White, Country Cream, Bitter Apricot, Grey. The Bitter Apricot (burnt orange colour), a 6 cylinder, was supposedly used to crash test the design but no wreck has ever been identified. The Cream car was driven around the factory and eventually given to the buyer of the Orange/Black Force 7V. It and the Force were sold to a man in Taren Point in Sydney's south. He claims it's the only one in the world however and that the white wagon and the cream one are the same vehicle.
I have pictures showing the rear views of both cars. The white car has an electric tailgate window, bucket seats, rear door arm-rests and a Force 7 steering wheel. The cream one has a wind-up rear window, bench seats, no rear arm rests and a standard steering wheel.
I beleive they are two different cars.
The grey wagon was supposedly a test car that was given to Ford in the southern state of Victoria after Leyland had closed. Ford apparently tested the vehicle before dismantling it. I don't know if this is true.
Warwick Williams

<I> Warwick Williams yellow Force7

Warwick Williams yellow Force7


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