Only 171 Ever Made: 1967 Sabra Roadster

What do you get when your design recipe is a heaping helping of Triumph, a smidge of Jaguar, a pinch of Alfa Romeo, and a sprinkling of Aston Martin? Found here on eBay, you get the 1967 Sabra, created in a small batch of only 171 by Autocars Company of Israel – with the help of several well-known European partners, until production stopped for the Six Day War.

This little speedster, coming in at under 1,900 pounds fueled up and ready to run, was the product and dream of Autocars founder Yitzhak Shubinsky, who was at an American car show in 1960 looking for partners to help build a sports car model. He walked away with suspension from Leslie Ballamy, a body from Ashley Laminates, and a deal with Reliant (yes – the infamous 3 wheeled Mark VI manufacturer from Tamworth, England). With this “dream team” – the Sabra G80 was born.

Before I scoff too much, you should remember on paper this racer seems to have all the right stuff. The factory spec sheet from ’67 tells us that the soft top had a four cylinder, 90 horse power plant displacing nearly 104 cubic inches. Certainly, nothing to rock the sports car world, then or now, but with a dry weight of only 1764 some odd pounds, it could push itself around road with the best of the Triumphs or MG’s of the day, for sure.

Honestly, after starring at the pictures of this little red sled for a bit, I’m still not sure whether I’m enthralled or not. I see the DB5 lineage, the ’65 E type nose, the Spitfire Mark II side panels, and a lot of the donor body Ashley 1172. As a purist, I guess I would stick to any of the above for my collection – but as a rarist (sorry everyone, not a word, but I like how it works in the sentence), I love the concept of owning a piece of history where only a very few have survived!

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Comments

  1. Wolfgang Gullich

    Sabra made some beautiful cars, don’t be surprised when this one sells for prolly over $30K.

  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    Also uses an English Ford Consul 205E engine.
    This looks much better without the chrome overriders.

  3. Nevis Beeman

    And perhapes someone could confirm that the tail light lenses are from an Austin A40 (Farina; 1958/67) …….?

    • Jacques Vandevelde ( Belgium)

      Yes, I can confirm the rear light lenses are Austin A 40 Farina. This is for the Sabra “MK2” , the earliest cars 62/64 mainly have Alfa Romeo ( smaller) rear lights (not easy to find nowadays).
      Sabra owner and enjoying driving it , Jacques Vandevelde Belgium

  4. James HGF

    Rather than re-write parts of the Sabra history per sabre dot be (be is Belgium) here is the basic info on the Haifa built (a large number were actually built in Tamworth, UK) Sabras:

    http://www.sabra.be/GB/GBHaifa.htm

    Lots of photos but even more available on the main, or common, page which will be added with next comment.

  5. James HGF

    This is the “common page” from the Sabra site which will allow you to navigate/ search for detailed info or simply enjoy the photos – either way educational:

    http://www.sabra.be/GB/GBindex.htm

  6. Ken Nelson Member

    The claim is – 4 wheel independent suspension – that can’t be if that’s a live rear axle in the one photo, or is there one pivot joint on the RH totally dark side of the photo? A la Mercedes swing axle? Can’t find any other reference to IRS – does anyone know the truth?

    • James HGF

      You’re correct. This is a live rear axle car as shown in the seller’s photo. Looked at 1st page of seller’s sales history and found one 4 wheel independent suspension car – a Corvair. Other vehicles sold are motor cycles and American cars.

      Look at the Sabra Technicians – Repairs page — navigate by Sabre front page — one will find tech drawings (“G” Ophanging – Suspension) of the unusual front suspension (not grand for competition work) and also the std live axle links and shock/spring assembly.

  7. Dolphin Member

    A few influences I see in the body….

    Front end: various ’50s/’60s Ferraris and Alfa Romeo convertibles after the Duetto…but the front end drawn out and exaggerated

    Instrument binnacles: Alfa Romeo

    Rear fenders & tail lights: Ferrari 250 GT coupe, a bit exaggerated

    Agree with Ken & James, that’s definitely a non-independent rear axle, unlike the seller’s claim

  8. Rube Goldberg Member

    Probably the rarest car we’ll ever see come through here. I’m surprised to actually see one, anywhere. Sabra in Hebrew means “a Jew that was born in Israel”. I didn’t even know this car existed until a few years ago. I bet it’s a blast to drive, if you dare. Aside from it’s odd styling, it’s nothing special, really, it should have had a V-8. ( slapping forehead) Unbelievable find.

  9. Ken Nelson Member

    The Sabra’s front end closely resembles my ’65 Panhard DB Lemans Roadster, a fiberglass-bodied car based on Panhard mechanicals that was a sister car to the DB HBR5 coupes raced at Lemans in the late ’50s which often won the Index of Performance in their class with their 750 or 850 cc flat twin all-rollerbearing engines. Here’s a photo from google images –

  10. TriPowerVette

    What a difference a pair of full-fender-length lens covers would have made.It worked for Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. Heck, even the Porsche 904 was so equipped.

  11. george

    not only can it turn on a dime, it can pick it up. oy veh.!

  12. olddavidp

    Front mid-engined as built, or so it appears to me. But I always thought the same thing of first generation RX-7’s too. A lot of wasted bodywork but very much a child of the times. Was the subsequent car the Goyim?

  13. Bobror

    I remember the introduction at the New York auto show. I probably picked up a brochure but if so misplaced it years ago. I’d love to have this but it’s most likely out of my price range.

  14. DavidLMM

    We have car #41 of the 400 or so built at Lane Motor Museum. It’s really a nice-looking car in person. The first 100 were built in the UK and exported directly to the USA; the next 48 were sent to Haifa as CKD kits and assembled and sold for export. The next 58 were sent to Israel for domestic sales. Supposedly a couple hundred more were built, a few at a time, until production ceased in 1969. In the count are probably the Reliant “Sabre” versions. 27 different vendors supplied parts – it was a real “Bitsa”. From what I’ve read, the taillights are Alfa Romeo, but my sources could have been wrong.
    About 100 are known to survive, mostly in the US, Israel, and, oddly, Belgium.

  15. Doug

    Looks to me like a Triumph Spitfire and a Daimler SP250 had a “love child”….

    More info on these available here –
    http://www.sporting-reliants.com/Sabra.htm

  16. Ken Nelson Member

    Can’t be front mid-engined – only the Citroen Traction Avant of 1935-57, the DS series from ’55-75, and the Cord 810/12 were front mid-engined, as the engine was behind the front drive transaxle on all of those. The Sabra is standard front engine, rear drive – very standard. Come to think of it, the Miller front drive was also midengined I think….Again, front engine between firewall and front drive transaxle.

    • Kevin

      Better add the Renault LeCar to the front mid engine list.

  17. Ivor Coster

    Body based on an Ashley Laminates – Ashley 1172 bodyshell, many of which still exist in UK and EU.
    Check them out at : http://ashley1172.weebly.com/

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