IDUNNO about you guys, but love an underdog – win, lose or draw. Think the Chickadee Racing team of Allan Grice and Graeme Bailey defying the odds to win Bathurst in 1986 – arguably the last privateer victory in the Great Race. Or Mark ‘Happy’ Williams taking out the Grand Champion gong at Summernats in his shed-built, just-finished One Tonner.
And when it comes to great Aussie automotive underdogs, none lost more spectacularly than the Leyland P76. Besides having room in the boot for a 44-gallon drum, the P76 was in many ways ahead of its time compared to its Holden, Falcon and Valiant rivals, boasting an optional 4.4-litre alloy V8, front disc brakes as standard and a bunch of innovative safety features.
It was impressive enough to win the Wheels Car Of The Year Award in 1973, but as you’ll read in Dave Carey’s story on the P76 on page 72, things went rapidly downhill from there. And while both the P76’s V8 and front brakes have proved invaluable items in many conversions, the car itself is well worth remembering – or even owning if you’re keen! They are certainly amongst the cheapest ways to get you bum into a chrome-bumper Aussie V8. And hey, Big Darrell Eastlake piloted a P76 touring car in the 70s – who knew?
Another place that underdogs thrive is Street Machine Drag Challenge. These events are chock-full of home-brewed creations, with the wide-open rules encouraging maximum creativity. Drag Challenge Weekend racing happens 4-6 May in Queensland, so if you are in the area, come and check it out! It’s a rolling feast of killer street cars of all shapes and sizes.
And if you can’t catch up with us at Willowbank or Warwick, you’ll get another chance the very next weekend at Meguiar’s MotorEx. Held at Melbourne Showgrounds 11-12 May, the event is promising to be the biggest yet, and we’re in it up to our eyeballs. Like last year, we’ll have the Street Machine Hall Of Fame rammed with killer cars that have featured in our pages, and we’ll have a big display of Street Machine Drag Challenge alumni too. And because we like our car shows with a dose of action, we’ll have a live Carnage build on-site over the weekend. Stay tuned for more on that one.
We’ve got a couple of other big projects on the boil this year. I have to keep mum on one of those for now, but I can reveal that we are working on our firstever Street Machine book, which will hit the shelves in time for Fathers’ Day. The book will aim to cover the most legendary streeters that have graced our pages over the past 38 years. It is a hard task narrowing the field down, but a lot of fun too. If you’ve got a suggestion of a car that just has to make the cut, drop us a line on our socials or at firstname.lastname@example.org.