Market Pick: 1967 Sabra GT

Israel isn’t a nation that immediately comes to mind when you think of countries that manufacture cars. However one company can lay claim to being the first true Israeli car manufacturer. And that honour goes to Autocars of Haifa. Founded in 1957 they built a number of fibreglass bodied models that proved very popular in their home market. One of which was the Sabra GT coupe which proved to be their most successful outside of Israel.

Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
A cut away diagram of the Sabra GT roadster

This compact sports car was available in GT coupe and roadster form, with early examples being powered by a 61BHP 1.7 litre Ford Consul engine. Despite the design being intended for the home market, the GT proved a hit in Belgium with some 81 (of the 379 total built) models sold there. And interestingly we have come across a very original 1967 Sabra GT coupe up for sale with classic car dealer Octane, who are based in Belgium.

Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
This 1967 Sabra GT looks to be in good condition and sits well on wire wheels which were optional extras

This particular late model 2+2 is described as being in good original condition. It still has it’s factory installed Ford engine, which has covered 55,380km. The interior is also said to be original and the seller notes the exterior could do with some tlc.

Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
The interior looks in good shape with a classic wood rim steering wheel adding to the charm

What we like about this Sabra GT is the fact it is different. The little sports cars looks might divide opinion, but we love the styling. There is a mix of Jensen CV8, TVR Grantura and Ashley Sportiva in the body lines. Indeed Ashley Laminates were involved in the development of the Sabra body shells. Autocars founder Yitzhak Shubinsky actually purchased the rights to the Ashley 1172 body design, which is where the Sabra GT story began.

Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
Sabra’s on the factory floor in Tirat Carmel – photo credit Government Press Office Israel

Such was the interest in the Sabra GT concept in the UK, Reliant created their own version in collaboration with Autocar, calling it the Reliant Sabre Six (and we featured a very special 1963 Reliant Sabre Works Six here). This effectively became the RHD market version of the Sabra, with a rather meaty 2.5 litre straight six under the hood. Reliant also made US market Sabra’s for Autocar.

Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
A period brochure advertising the virtues of the GT

Thanks to the Autocars European based development efforts, much of the cars running gear was set around Ford UK mechanicals and much was shared with the Ford Consul. They were fitted with a four speed manual gearbox, plus the GT had an independent suspension and disc brakes up front, with drums on the rear. As the listing states that this 1967 example has 90BHP, we assume the 1.7 litre four cylinder engine has been given a twin Solex setup, which boosted power from the original less than impressive 61BHP.

Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
Twin carbs under the hood means this GT has got good power for its size
Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
It may have been built in the Middle East but the GT coupe style is very European

What stands out for us about this Sabra GT is it’s originality and rarity. Only 379 were built between 1961 and 1968. Very few people will have ever heard of a Sabra before, which makes them a guaranteed conversation starter at any classic car show. Plus there is always something special about owning a rare car, adding something with a story to any classic car collectors garage.



Take to the Road Market Pick 1967 Sabra GT
The large over rider style bumpers take a cue from the Daimler SP250

Then of course there’s the fact that the GT is powered by a twin carb engine that’s good for around 90BHP. That coupled with the super light light body shell makes the Sabra GT a fast and fun little car. If we were buying this example we’d keep it original, enjoy taking it to shows and share the story of the British/Israeli sports car that was a hit in 1960s Belgium.

This 1967 Sabra GT is being offered for sale by Octane Cars and Classics in Belgium and has an asking price of €29,000.

 

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