Great Aussie car fails

P76, Ford Capri, Mitsubishi Magna just some of the great Aussie car fails


Book Reviews
'Not right from the moment it launched': The Leyland P76, pictured here in 1973. Photo: Russell McPhedran/Fairfax Media

'Not right from the moment it launched': The Leyland P76, pictured here in 1973. Photo: Russell McPhedran/Fairfax Media

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Dave Morley's new book looks at the stuff-ups the Australian car industry would rather forget.

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WHAT do the Leyland P76, Holden Piazza, AU Falcon and Mitsubishi Magna have in common? All were epic fails according to Dave Morley.

Yes, there were others - the XK Falcon, the Holden Brougham and Camira and the Ford Capri to name a few.

Morley, an automotive journalist for 30 years, lists the worst of the worst in his fun new book Great Aussie Car Fails: Stuff-ups and stories the car industry would rather forget.

Of the motor vehicle industry, he notes: "... while our now-departed industry was viewed globally as imaginative, flexible, efficient and resourceful, we were more than capable of cocking it up just as effectively and comprehensively as anyone else ever did".

And so to the P76, which "stands as a lesson on how not to launch an all-new car into a market sector already pretty well served by some old favourites".

Morley writes the Leyland model wasn't right from the moment it launched - doors that leaked air and dust, rear windows that fell out over bumps "and an exhaust system that routed the piping so close to the floor that the optional carpets began smouldering".

On a more personal note, my hubby says he and his car-loving mates called it the P38 "because it was only half as good as they reckoned".

Of the Ford Capri convertible built in 1989, Morley notes its timing was way off (it coincided with the launch of the Mazda MX-5), it just never looked "right", the build quality was "appalling", and the roof leaked.

Another personal note: Hubby and I travelled to the Sydney Motor Show to see the new Capri - we actually had one ordered - only to be told by our long-legged 12-year-old there was no way she'd fit in the back seat. We gave in and bought a sedan - not the sexiest of choices, but she probably did us a favour.

Leaky roofs and 'appalling build': The Ford Capri (1989) came in a soft and hard top. Photo: Ford

Leaky roofs and 'appalling build': The Ford Capri (1989) came in a soft and hard top. Photo: Ford

There are plenty more "dogs" listed before Morley moves on to "Wreckology" - technological blind alleys car manufacturers have found themselves in. From gull-wing doors, pressed wood ute floors and dog-leg A pillars to ergonomic disasters and fuel caps hidden behind number plates making it almost impossible to fill the car.

Then there's The politics of stupid: dumb laws and corporate decisions.

Like Ford's dumping of the V8 option from its Falcon range, in-car fax machines, shameful model names (Ford's Probe, Subaru's Levorg, and the Nissan Cedric), and the SUV "a giant collection of compromises, forced upon us by the desire to look like everybody else".

But Morley doesn't limit his observations to Aussie cars: he also takes a look at where it's gone wrong in the rest of the world.

He has witnessed first-hand his fair share of mistakes, errors, stuff-ups and bald-faced lies - but not in this book. In his introduction, he assures readers "everything you read here did really happen".

Car lover or car hater, this book will entertain and at the same time provide an insight into the wild world of cars.

Great Aussie Car Fails: Stuff-ups and stories the car industry would rather forget by Dave Morley (Hardie Grant), RRP $24.99.

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