What The Hell Is This Thing?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
what the hell em is em this thing

When it comes to cars, I much prefer discussing the deeply flawed and/or obscure to, say, getting into a debate over the relative merits of the E36 versus the E46. Give me a Sofia B or ZIL 112 any day! 24 Hours of LeMons racers who wish to bribe the judges and ensure fair treatment know that diecast replicas of weird/obscure vehicles make me very, very happy. Here’s one of the best yet— can you identify it?

This, for those of you who aren’t from Australia and/or scarily obsessed car anoraks, is a 1:43 scale 1976 Leyland P76. The P76 was one of the greatest motor vehicles of all time, in the same sense that Richard Nixon was one of the greatest American presidents of all time. Sort of a British/Australian response to the ’71 Oldsmobile Delta 88, the P76 featured Buick/Rover V8 power, Lucas electrics, and a trunk designed to fit a 44-gallon drum with the lid closed. What comes in 44-gallon drums, and why are such drums so important to Australians? That, my friends, is like asking why Richard Nixon couldn’t make money shipping frozen— but not concentrated— lemon juice by train; you’ll be happier not knowing.

The diecast P76 bribe came from Team Porcubimmer aka Prickstine, seen here lowering Las Vegas’ collective property values with their street-legal LeMons car during SEMA. Thanks, Porcubimmers! Photograph by David Moore.

We might as well check out some of the other fine toy-car bribes I’ve received from LeMons teams during my tenure on the LeMons Supreme Court bench. Here’s a 1:43 Live And Let Die Mini Moke.

It’s hard to beat a P76, but an Evel Knievel commemorative-edition 1:64 scale Aston Martin Lagonda comes close.

It’s not really a car, but the infamous Long Brothers’ Junkyard Wars hovercraft still warrants a place on my bribe-display shelf in the office.

This Citroën DS Chapron Convertible in 1:18 scale doesn’t make the quite the ironic statement issued by, say, the Moke or the Lagonda, but it makes up for it in straight-up beauty.

Likewise, you don’t have to be a complete weirdo to want a 1:24 scale Dan Gurney ’69 Cyclone Spoiler on your desk. Well, maybe you need to be a bit of a weirdo, but as a former Cyclone owner I was ecstatic to get this one at the Mutually Assured Destruction Of Omaha race.

Finally, there’s one guaranteed to make a Dodge A100 owner happy!

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2 of 35 comments
  • Jasper911 Jasper911 on Dec 12, 2010

    "Bought a Hemi Pacer built in '74 It's got bananas in the gearbox rust in every door Reconditioned automission drinks a gallon every mile"

  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Jan 08, 2011

    I first found out about it in the UK (Autocar used to have a back page feature on rare and interesting cars one of their staff dug out but never bought) but considered my chances of ever seeing one in the flesh to be between slim and remote. Then I saw three in perfect working order during my recent trip to New Zealand. Unfortunately always while driving, so no pics - but they do look pretty cool in real life - certainly something I would consider (if I was madder and lived where they drive on the wrong side of the road).

  • Cprescott I remember when Fords were affordable.
  • Cprescott As a once very LOYAL FORD buyer, I had to replace my 22 year old Ford (bought new in 1997) once it finally started to have problems at 180k miles. I would have gladly purchased something like this from Ford but they abandoned me as a car buyer. Oddly, Hyundai still builds cars in a variety of flavors so I became a customer of theirs and am very happy. Likely will consider another once this one gets up in mileage.
  • SCE to AUX A friend once struck a mounted tire that was laying flat in the middle of her lane on the PA Turnpike. She was in a low late-90s Grand Prix, and the impact destroyed the facia, core support, radiators, oil pan, transmission, subframe, and suspension. They fixed it all.
  • Dukeisduke Lol, it's not exactly a Chevrolet SS with Holden badging.
  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.