Our Leyland P76 Executive story.
It’s 1974 and a bloke strides in to the show room and peers at the big shiny car, with his wife expecting their fourth child soon the existing English car was going to be a bit small. The Salesmen sit in their room sipping coffee, the man out on the floor can wait until smoko break has finished, but that’s too late and the sale is missed.
Time is tight for the young dairy farmer as he leaves the local Ford Dealership and heads around to Mckendry Motors to look at one of these new Leyland’s that got Car of the Year. And so it was, a few weeks later, as a five year old playing outside, I got a surprise to see Dad slide up beside me in a sleek new P76, about level in height with the wing mirror I peered over the bonnet, big and flat and low at the front, completely different to the curves of the just traded Riley 1600. As a youngster, I soon concluded it was anything but an average car, as a local Detective had a bright orange one and the County Catchment Board, Big Wig had an orange one which is also in the Club today.
As is the case with many family cars it featured in many happy memories as me, two brothers and one sister grew up over the years. School trips in the ‘70’s were easy for parents and in our case it was everybody in the Leyland and as long as Mum could shut the door we were off – hopefully it wasn’t too hot as sweaty legs soon stuck to others and vinyl seats and if it rained we were safe as Dad had fitted Dunlop Aqua Jets to pump Wet Roads Dry as the advertising slogan went. I was perhaps of the last generation that could get your licence pretty quickly at 15 years and pretty soon after take your parents V8 to town with no extra insurance costs. One of my first outings in it by myself was to a Mockers Concert , although I hadn’t been home to long with the words With Out You My Life’s Going To Be Forever Tuesday Morning still ringing in my head when I got told off for not first asking to take the car – lesson learned. Only time I got real fast in the car – Dad’s best mate spotted me as Corinthian Blue Leyland’s weren’t real common around town – second lesson learned. And of course, the biggest shock was downsizing to my own set of wheels – which at 17 years of age was a Triumph Toledo and didn’t help my love life.
The P76 was traded in the late 80’s for a rather unreliable VL Commodore – recently as has often been the pattern of life with older generations I decided I would like a car like my parents owned.
I am extremely grateful to Don Alexander who, himself, has many good family memories in it, for letting me purchase the P76 at a very reasonable price within my budget. It was amazing to track down the exact same car my parents had, although my own children think it equally amazing that I spent my own childhood riding in a car which never had a radio. And, so anyway, in June 2010, 36 years after the first time it again slid up my parents’ driveway and this time I was driving with my own family and it were my Mother and Father who got the surprise.
(c) Leyland P76 Owners Club Incorporated of New Zealand