We mean to collect here ANY data to preserve historical facts about the
I would like to add more details on the history of the Sabra Sport
production in Israel.
This could be generally divided into three pieces, as follows:
Phase one: As
is now common knowledge with Sabra/Sabre enthusiasts, Reliant was
commissioned to produce the first 100 units for the American market, due
to Autocars' incapability of making the cars on time.
production in Haifa got under way in July '61, and only eleven cars were
produced till the end of that year. This is a particularly slow pace when
considering Autocars overall 150 units/month production rate at the time.
is also surprising to note that four very early production UK-made Sabras
(see excel file) found their way into Haifa, possibly as demonstrators/production
first contract for export, 25 units for the U.S., was accomplished in
1962. According to the data I have, exports only began in 1962, which
means the first cars were stocked for some months. This could be due to
Reliant's on-going production for the first 100 units.
production rate in 1962 was increased.
Phase two The
second phase arrived in summer 1963 (August probably), when facelifted
Sabra ST started rolling off the production line. I believe (but cannot
prove) that this was also the timing for the first GT's production.
Changes included (terminology is taken off the factory document):
Panel (front nose) with rim
- Main body with rim
- Possibly also revised doors and instrument panel (the latter could be
dated much later, given part number)
To get precise data we should be able to compare
detailed pictures of several old 47xx and new 48xx-Sabras.)
worth noting is that the hardtop part number may indicate a later
introduction than the GT.
sales were moving along very slowly (U.S. orders diminished, and sales in
Israel never surpassed 5-6 a year), production was probably slowed down in
1964. In September 1965, as the plant moved 5kms Southwards, to Tirat
HaCarmel, Sabra Sport production stopped altogether. According to what I
heard from one of the ex-workers, this was due to the Sabra stock of
batteries being stolen during the plant re-location. This does not sound
too convincing, and as I found out in this respect, there are many stories
that are just that - stories.
and last sequel took place a year or so later, production re-started, with
Belgium now becoming the No. 1 market. Figures tell us that Autocars
invoice prices to its Belgian dealer were reduced by some 40% at this
time. This probably enabled sales (and production rate) to reach its peak
in 1967. Given the low exports in 1968, I assume production ended with the
end of 1967MY, sometime in August 1967. Autocars still had quite some kits
in stock, which explains why in 1980, when Autocars' successor (Rom Carmel
Industries, founded in 1974) was to convert its production lines from cars,
ZF gearboxes were auctioned (Don Pither's book). Sometime in the early
1970s, Autocars got rid of some excess bodyshells it had. At least two
unpainted GT bodies found their way to a kindergarden!
Above Yohay's story we can add that the seat of the Belgian importer
was in Antwerp, Jacob Jacobsstraat 40. There must have been a
strong connection with "garage Majestic", Chaussée d'Anvers
37 in Brussels, where costumers could choose their model and colour.
Up there we get the information that production stopped in may 67 but
that cars that had been ordered before were assembled and delivered
until 1968. At arrival of the cars, on the passengers' seat was
always a box of oranges.
Autocars Haifa IL made Sabras
With regards to Yohay Shinar, who compiled these data
This bright red Sabra, with Itzhak Shubinski (Autocars' owner and CEO) at the wheel, is most probably NOT an Israeli-built one...As it now appears, first ever Sabra to have been registered in Israel did so as late as on January 1962.
This picture, taken in July 1961 at the latest, may actually show UK Sabra #4 (Chassis 200004), a red Sabra sold to Posseidon UK (a maritime company owned by Shubinski) and shipped ex-Two Gates on April 6, 1961. As it was not ever registered in Israel, it was probably re-exported to Europe, or the U.S., once its PR days were over.
This picture shows eight Sabras, prior to loading upon ZIM vessel "Gedera", just visible at the back. "Gedera" left Haifa to the U.S. on 16 Sept 1962, carrying the first shipment of 10 Israeli-made Sabra (Sport, more-earthily Autocars vehicles were shipped to the U.S. long before that date) to North America. Chassis numbers were in the 4703-4716 range. Do you have a better copy of this picture?
was taken on March 7, 1967, at the Tira plant. Surely these four cars ended up
(If this would only have been a color-picture.)
the Production Log
order to complete this jigsaw, I would like to have your assistance in having
every possible info on the original configuration of the cars:
Engine No. and stage (carburation)
Chassis plate etch font (note the differences when looking at the various plates
on the website; These are closely related to other Autocars' products,
and can therefore be dated)
Any label in Hebrew (should be found on the bodyshell itself, for instance under
the ceiling trim and next to the sunvisors - on GTs). This could tell us exactly
production date, and hopefully some more info. I have found two-three pieces in
every Autocars vehicle I looked at, but this should be done with trim off.
Date of first registration
Roof color (original)
You should read Yohay's original explanation with the
(1.jpg) It clearly shows the following cars -
Blue Metallic GT, wire wheels
ST (could also be an HT), no wires
chassis (enlarge the picture and spot three workers laboring on it)
man opening the Silver GT right door is Ze'ev Weisshaus - the Sabra
the picture - the white car's back side window frame (look through the
Silver Sabra!) is a Carmel FW2, a model that was made till May 1964. The
workers all wear long sleeves shirts, so it's March-April 1964 at the
These cars should
therefore be in the 4810-20 range.
is John Cartwrights hypothesis that we see above the 4809, 4810, 4811 - could be.
This picture thanks Thomas Touw
Thanks Thomas Touw
This should be one of the first MKI in the (old) factory. According to Yohay the
mules' name was "Alfred".
And this (below) should be one of the last: notice a GT with
chromed wire wheels and lenscaps. Yohay says this should be GT489x.
On the background the headquarters at the Tirah-plant and lots of Carmels,
probably for the army. Does it ever rain in IL?
About the body's in the Kindergarten: that's not a story.
Jacob Shalit provided us with some pictures but he also wanted his
"phoenix" to be shown on the same spot (not all are forlorn).
The cars are (were - are still ??) in the Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael, about 25km
south of Haifa, on the sea shore.