Published On: Sat, Jan 13th, 2018
Cars |

1 of 144: 1962 Sabra Sport Roadster headed to auction in Scottsdale

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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 you see here, which will be for sale at Bonham’s Scottsdale auction later this month.

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.

1962 Sabra Sport Roadster VIN plate

This 1962 Sabra, car number 95, rolled off the Reliant line in Tamworth England on January 11, 1962. Photo by Bonhams

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. This example, car number 95, rolled off the Reliant line in Tamworth England on January 11, 1962; with only 653 indicated miles, it could be the lowest-mile example in existence.

The Sabra was sold to a Florida dealer and kept in storage for 38 years before being discovered by an enthusiast in 2000, showing just 40 miles. It got a full-scale concours restoration and hit the show circuit, winning an Antique Automobile Club of America Senior Award, AACA Grand National Award, AACA National Award and AACA Senior Grand National Award, along the way covering about 600 more miles.

The presale estimate is $ 50,000-$ 70,000 and it will be sold as lot 67 without reserve at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa on January 18. Go to Bonhams.com for more information and to register to bid.

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1 of 144: 1962 Sabra Sport Roadster headed to auction in Scottsdale