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Leyland P76 Turns 40 

An Unofficial Account. The Truth Revealed. Nothing is Sacred or Hidden

June 2013

BY Philip Meyer and Rob Jones

 
(Click on the pictures to enlarge)
 
The custom ute of Troy Green. Look at it carefully and spot the differences, there are too many for me to list. The interior looks like a P76 but it isn't. The dash is the same shape but made of spun black aluminium I think with modern gauges in the same pattern holes and the rest follows this theme. The tray has a "new style" lift up cover, the paint is spectacular and not done justice here, the finish overall, decals, wheels and details is superb and I don't think I even saw the engine bay! On the rear it carries the name Greenie within the decal artwork, as it should belonging to Troy. But it still didn't win the modified class!  The rarest is the recently restored CC station wagon. The only P76 station wagon, a fitting partner for Joe Greens Force7V and all the other P76ís he has! A beautiful colour and a good looking wagon with a ton of carrying capacity. Just imagine how things may have gone had the Pom's not shut down the Zetland operation! There were a great number of CC cars at the rally and while there are many a bright option within the Leyland colour range this is still one of my favourite colours for P76. This shot was taken in the car park in front of the Rydges Lakeside Hotel where the entrants assembled prior to the re-enactment drive.  The special being three Force 7V's in B as B, HOTO and B as B, belonging to Rod Warrick from Victoria, Joe Green from NSW and David Nelson from NSW. The cars are parked on the lawn in front of the old Parliament buildings as part of the 70 plus contingent being judged in the Concours. Lo and behold, there didn't appear to be a category for the Force 7 and to date I have conflicting answers as to who did win which category so I won't be going there, suffice to say no Kiwi cars won as there weren't any there. 

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)  

In June 2013 it happened. It started in March, really. The word was that the occasion would require formal attire. Not everyone possesses formal attire, but then some people who previously didn't do now. Having sorted that major obstacle plans were drawn up, discarded, re-started, discarded, re-arranged, discarded, reconsidered. Decided. Easy eh? Now all we had to decide was which airline to fly with, where to stay, who to take, which way to go, when to go, whence to return, how to pay, and other minor details. So we met at Kiama Railway Station. Thatís south of Sydney. Two hours in a train. Luckily (yes, we are in the Lucky Country) there was a pub just around the corner. Luckily they served Carlton Draught. lt took three to start tasting like it did in 1973.

Kiama was not randomly chosenóit is of course the place where you canít buy P76 parts. So the next day, after a long drive of about 38metres to the au natural cafť for breakfast, which included wild eggs and free-range bacon, it was off to Nowra and the Navy Museum where our browsing was rudely interrupted by a phone call from Skippy and the Impersonator accompanying her. And could we meet at Goulburn for lunch and to join the P76 convoy. Of course. A couple of hours later, luckily Maccas was open. And they were gathering. By the score. A bit later we arrived, devoid of drama, in Canberra where Mike and Rob had been summonsed to THE MEETING. Once that was over it was dinner time. Then it was lectures time. Three captivating addresses from the people who were responsible for planning and creating and marketing the P76 leading up to its launch in 1973. The next day, the assembled cars gathered by the scores to ultimately follow the press release route as per the 1973 event. Which went to a couple of interesting satellite receiving sites and then Gundaroo. Luckily the local Fire Brigade were having a BBQ so there was plenty of food. We were then free to find our way back to Canberra, just in time for the hairdresser, the make-up artist and the dry cleaner so he could iron our suits, because they were crumpled from being carted about in suitcases. Oh thats an appropriate name eh. The Dinner turned out to be rather pleasant, luckily. Luckily, too, the guest speakers all turned up and we got to hear three more high-flying planners from 1973. Even more luckily an announcement confirmed that skill and ability and the choice of the right P76 resulted in the right P76, code-named P38X2, winning the Peking to Paris Rally. Just an hour before the Dinner started. Let the Champaign flow !!

Next morning, luckily the rain had stopped to be luckily replaced with bright blue skies and sunshine, they gathered again in the grounds in front of the Australian Federal Government. l stopped counting after reaching seven score. My head couldnít get around the beautiful view. If we are lucky someone will have brought a camera here, too.

Around lunchtime we had had our fill of Leylands so we left Canberra to see how far we could go before finding a P76 in trouble. Luckily we found it and had to tow it only 100km (it was really 76miles) to the next servo, as they call it in the Lucky Country. Luckily we were able to reach Wodonga just after it turned dark. The Thai restaurant ran out of our chosen wine but luckily he gave us one just about as good for free.

Next time we will go to the Mexican restaurant. One of the party had stipulated that the return route must include Bendigo, luckily it wasnít Darwin, and luckily Echuca was on the way there and luckily the cafe there had the best coffee in the world, just like it was lucky that Bendigo had the best pie shop in the world and even more luckily it was open at breakfast time. And so it came time to return the car to the kind man who had let us drive it to Melbourne Airport for him and fly back to Auckland.

   
ON Targa Florio
Given to me to drive into Canberra from Goulburn. 
Thank you Neville and Adrian. Nice ride.
The 35Oci Chev Motor as seen in the Middys car. Besides the motor check out the other modification to the engine bay.  Ed the architect thought this old 1836 store was out of this world. The fire was going inside but I think it was warmer outside!  The Concours.
There had to be a drum on display and this blue one was well presented. 
Bendigo was a nice friendly city offering good accommodation, a superb dinner and great pies for breakfast as Ed was determined to prove to us. We all had one!  And the Tram Museum was also a big hit with us and Len our unofficial guide is sure to visit us here in NZ.
We visited some very well presented museum's including the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Nowra where we saw this Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-15 UTI amongst many others. 

MEMORABLE MUSEUMS: Nowra Navy Museum, Bendigo Holden Museum, another one in the paddock at the back of beyond, the hot rod one also countrified and the Army Base one that didnít open until 1000 hours.

I must make mention of the impeccable behaviour of my travelling companions: without exception they were at all times polite, well-spoken, well-dressed, helpful to old people, courteous to everyone and spoke nothing but the truth for a whole week.

     
Possibly the rarest photo in my collection to date shows Mike King, Philip Meyer, Ed Tubman and myself in our finery before the anniversary dinner on the Saturday evening. We had various corporate adornments, I had an original Leyland tie and tiepin but alas my shirt was not built for the matching cufflinks. There were some attractive designs in aftermarket Leyland ties being worn by others on the night. This photo taken outside the dining room has as a backdrop one of the original sales boards that would have been in place at dealerships across Australia. Most of you will recognise the scene.
This is a rare photo as when did any of you ever see Ed or myself in a suit before? I can't talk for Mike and Philip but I suspect it isn't something they don every day! This backdrop would have had 100ís of photos taken of it on the night. 
The second shows more of our group in more appropriate attire at Gundaroo, a small village that made us very welcome, the local fire brigade supplying a great range of BBQ style foods at very reasonable prices. A good fundraiser when you have 150+ hungry people to visit.
This place was very old by our standards, as was much of Australia in terms of European settlement. One shop we visited was built in 1836, a living lesson for Ed! Check out our welcome on the local notice board behind us. A quaint blackboard with a roof!
 In the photo we see from L to R Ed, Mike, and Rob (me) Skippy aka Maria, David Timms and Philip. It is about here I must explain that Murray Hatchard was also with us but somehow escaped any photographic record of the fact to my knowledge. He sat next to me in the bar at the Leagues Club, and at the Saturday dinner, we spoke at Gundaroo when he pointed out his car to me but he obviously eluded any of our cameras. I assure you Murray was there too.
A car in a non standard colour, one of two I recall, but nice all the same. This is one of many queued down the road from the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station reserve. It was a long line! Just to prove we can see beyond the cars notice the bush in the background. There were a lot of big rocks amongst the bush too.
And importantly for me (I'm the Editor and the others can't stop me here) it was just down the road from here that I saw my first herd of wild kangaroo's after many trips and miles travelled in Aussie, I finally got to see some alive in the wild. Impressive for my first time. 
The BIG M won the modified class. This business promotional car from Victoria sports a 350 Chev motor but all is forgiven. It to carries an assortment of differences besides those which are very obvious. Check out that bonnet! In a shocking pink metallic colour scheme with white P76 interior, the seats piped in pink, the steering wheel cut from a solid block of aluminium and many other refinements the Middys car is spectacular to look at and listen to, especially rumbling down a steep valley road. Owner Rick Brain told us he wanted something Australian to advertise his company with but felt something special was needed and here it is! There are any number of minor and major body and trim details that distinguish this car from the original. I may be able to show some points later.  No colour spread is complete without my other favourite and this car certainly showed off its HOTO finish to great effect. I'm not sure whose it is but it isn't the car Reg Jones was driving which was another superb HOTO car on show. Isn't that just lovely! 

Reg Jones used to live in Tauranga New Zealand back during the beginning of the NZ Club.  He ran a smart CC S V8 with a lot of gold paint trim on the bonnet and boot of the car.  I hadnít seen him in nearly 30 years and he walked up to me in Canberra and said ď Hi Rob, long time no seeĒ