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1962 Sabra Sport Roadster

1962 Sabra Sport Roadster


As unfamiliar car brands go, Autocars of Haifa, Israel has to be one of the least known, at least here in the States. It was founded in 1957 and built a handful of its own models (Sussita, Carmel, Gilboa), as well as assembling a few more (Hino Contessa, Triumph 1300) from kits in the 1960s and '70s. In 1960 owner Yitzhak Shubinsky brought the first Israeli-made Sabra pickup to the New York Auto Show, but it was not a hit. He then started a new project, which became the 1962 Sabra Sport Roadster.

The Sabra name, according to legend, and Bonham’s auction house, means both a Jewish person born in Israel, and also a prickly cactus, the latter which wound up being Sabra’s logo. The Sport Roadster features a Ford 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine laying down about 61 hp. This car has a four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs, and front disc/rear drum brakes.

The Sabra body was designed by Ashley Laminates in Great Britain and the chassis came from Leslie Ballamy. Ashley was known for its bodies on Austin Sevens and Morgans while Leslie Ballamy is most famous for building split front beam axles for Austin, Ford and Allard. Shubinsky contracted Reliant to supply the bodies, which liked the design so much it began producing them itself under the name Sabre.

According to Bonhams, 144 cars came to the United States, 81 more went to Belgium, and the rest elsewhere -- total production was only 379 between 1961 and 1968.

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