Murray Bown and his Orange 1974 Deluxe Column auto V8
This car was purchased at 75,000 miles in 1980 as it had reached the end of its fleet lease with the Marlborough Catchment Board. Murray had been offered first refusal on the car as he was known to be into heavy machinery and needed a good tow car, as you will see later. He said yes and has run it as a daily driver ever since. The car got a rebuilt engine at 200,000 miles and has since clocked up another 100,000 miles. The new engine is a mixture of Chev and Oldsmobile alternative parts that have resulted in a strong high compression engine
It has Oldsmobile pistons that were not trimmed to the correct compression ratio but they are still going strong as are the Chev cam and lifters. Initially the pistons gave a few issues but Murray has become expert at managing the estimated 14.1 compression ratio. He and the P have a mutual understanding of each other.
Murray is also a member of the VCC and uses his P76 in some of their events such as the run down the Molesworth Track to Hanmer Springs then back through the Rainbow to Lake Rotoiti. Part of this was on a riverbed due to the road being washed out where eventually they had to cross the river. The old cars were doing ok but the “moderns” (post 1960 vintage) weren’t faring so well. Murray attached a rope to the P and threw it over the river so he could be pulled across. Living up to legend the P floated over on the end of the rope!
This was its second floating experience. Under MCB ownership it got stranded in flooding and while Murray was rescuing people in his MCB truck he found his boss stuck in the P76.
The boss wasn’t prepared to leave his car behind and tried to follow Murray out in the truck but the P floated off the road into a fence. A bunch of guys jumped into the water and pushed it to higher ground. No water entered the car; the only people to get wet were those that pushed the car to its drier resting place. The car later started first time and was driven away. It does have electronic ignition fitted from new along with 1974 vintage after market air conditioning. Now that is something different.
(c) Leyland P76 Owners Club Incorporated of New Zealand