the Force 7V was unchanged when compared with the P76 Super V8 with the
same tall gearing, engine tune, internal gear ratios and lack of a
standard limited slip differential. With a slight weight disadvantage we
expected the performance to be virtually identical to the P76 and that
was verified at the Castlereagh Drag Strip.
our figures were run (. slippery surface during heavy rain and we felt
certain they could be improved dramatically. One other problem, which we
didn't become aware of until we sat down to calculate the gearing and
maximum speeds in gears back in the office, was that the tachometer was
reading at least 1000 rpm too high, so although we ran the engine out to
6000 rpm— the redline was 5500 rpm—during our acceleration runs,
this was still too low for optimum performance.
both those factors into account our 16.9 seconds for the standing 400 m
was outstanding and we had no hesitation in saying the car would have
been good for around 16.5 seconds in ideal circumstances. And this, of
course, was with the standard tune V8 engine. Leyland had plans to offer
a sports kit for the car which would have upped the power output from
143 kW to around 186 kW and turned the Force 7V into a real stormer. Top
speed at 172 km/h (107 mph) was a little higher than the best we ever
saw from a P76, probably because the shape was more aerodynamically
the Force 7V was obviously going to be the same as the P76, or so we
thought. But the steering wheel with its comfortable soft rim made such
a difference, it only emphasised how dreadfully uncomfortable the rim of
the P76 wheel really was and how much it tried to make driving the P76
the Force 7V the steering seemed lighter, higher geared and more precise
although it was essentially the same, apart from a dampener which was
designed to reduce to a minimum the vibrations and rattles sometimes
passed back to the driver through the rack of the P76's steering gear.
new wheel also served to highlight the genuinely fine roadholding and
handling of the P76/Force 7V running gear and suspension. The
ride/handling compromise was excellent.
was the dominant handling trait, but on tight corners the inside rear
wheel could be spun and the tail drifted into artificial oversteer,
suggesting the LSD would have been a desirable option. The initial
deadness experienced when turning the P76 into a corner had gone and the
steering felt more responsive, although on the relatively low
recommended tyre pressures— 152 kpa (22 psi)—there was some tyre
scrub. Increasing the pressures significantly had a detrimental effect
on the amount of front end harshness and the general quality of the
was pure P76 with progressive pedal feel but ultimate fade if the brakes
were punished, although with the CAC alloy road wheels the point at
which fade set in required harder driving because of the improved
cooling qualities of the wheels.
driving comfort was considered outstanding, with a fine driving position
spoiled only by the poor placement of the controls— there were no
plans for steering column stalks for the wipers or lights —and the
dipper switch on the floor.
car was quiet and the exhaust system had a slightly different note
suggesting some change in the muffler set-up. Biggest problem, and one
which Leyland claimed would have been cured with the final production
cars, was wind noise. The car we drove had hand-made rubber surrounds
(it also lacked final finishing touches in some other areas such as the
door sills and around the inside of the rear door) which weren't
effective in sealing the frameless windows against the body.
by accident or intent the Force 7V was superb to drive with the side
windows down. There was no rush of air or body boom to make things
uncomfortable, at least for those in the front, just a pleasant open air
feel that served to ventilate the cockpit. The interior—finished in
off-white on the test car—was light and airy, with the large glass
areas emphasising the roominess of the car.
would it have succeeded? Leyland intended to sell the Force 7V in
relatively small volume although it would have achieved at least double
—or around 15 percent—the percentage volume reached by the Monaro
two-door and Falcon Hardtop when compared to the sedans. As we revealed
earlier, ex-managing director
North's piece of string was only 14,000 P76s long and the Force 7V would
have been additional to that.
marketing plan for the Force 7V called for the sporty model—the Force
7V—to be introduced first, and then to follow it, a couple of months
later, with a luxury version— the Tour de Force—and finally to
release a base-line six cylinder version to be known as Force 7.
June, 1974, the price for a manual Force 7V was going to be $5270 and
$5390 for the automatic. When rated against Ford Falcon GT, Holden
Monaro GTS and Chrysler's Chargers it would have been highly
a car Force 7V was certainly impressive in many ways and if Leyland had
achieved the expected sales volume for the P76 it would have been
introduced in June, 1974, the month quoted in the now, much sought after
Force 7V owner's handbook, as the time of the release.
we couldn't help thinking Leyland was being over ambitious in conceiving
a coupe with a completely new skin. Even the short wheelbase Charger
used a number of Valiant panels and the tooling costs must have added
enormously to the overall cost of the P76/Force 7V project and hastened
the ultimate end of Leyland Australia as a manufacturer.
ifs are many in the story of the Force 7V. It is/was/would have been a
good car . . . but the problems confronting Leyland had us wondering if
it ever would have achieved the sales volume necessary to cover all the
tooling amortisation costs and ultimately to make a profit for the
if and more ifs . . .