Warrewyk Williams
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Loved lemon with a bit of history

 

By Andrew Shipp

 

THE Leyland P76 is the only Australian car built to fit a 44-gallon drum or bale of hay in the boot. It also can comfortably fit a family of four, like the Williams.

Warrewyk Williams and his family drove from Sydney in the restored 1974 car to join the WA Leyland P76 Owners' Club for its annual Easter event at Whiteman Park.

And despite the vehicle's rather dubious reputation, it made it with just one hiccup - a broken clutch cable that took about an hour to fix.

The car, the second last one built, was destined to be cannibalised until Mr Williams examined it.

A check with a Leyland buff found that car number 19,006 was the second last one to roll off the Sydney assembly line.

Family size: Warwick and Carmel Williams with children Lloyd, 9, and Angela, 10, drove their P76 to Perth from Sydney. PICTURE: JOHN MOKRZYCKI

 

"The two last cars were special builds, identical, and they had every factory option on them including a few extras," Mr Williams said.

He spent three months restoring the car, rewiring it and replacing the upholstery and interior panels.

The P76, which went into production in March 1973 and stopped when Leyland closed its Australian factory in November 1974, has been synonymous with the word lemon. But club president James Mentiplay rejects that.

"It didn't last long and it was something a bit different," the owner of four P76s said.

"Leyland died very early in the car's life so they weren't around long enough to develop them. They developed a bad reputation very quickly due to poor quality control."

But thanks to owners like Mr Mentiplay, the car is being recognised for its part in Australian motoring history.

Designed and manufactured in Sydney, more than 90 per cent of the components were Australian made.

The enormous boot was a selling point for rural buyers, especially farmers, and it was the first to have disc brakes as standard, crumple zones and side intrusion bars, and an all alloy V8 production engine.

Costing $5200 new, they can fetch between $8000 and $10,000, with the two-door hatchback Force 7 model worth more than $40,000.

There are only 400 road registered P76s - and a few thousand hidden in sheds waiting to be cannibalised to keep those 400 on the road.

 

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