The Reliant Motor Company had been making 3-wheeler cars since 1935, however on one particular day in 1960 that was all about to change. At a racing car show Yitzhak Shubinsky from Autocars Ltd (Israel) had been looking around the show to get some ideas for producing a new sports car. Yitzhak Shubinsky had become impressed by Ashley's fibreglass bodied special and saw Leslie Ballamy's new ladder type chassis which was fitted with an unusual independent front suspension setup. A deal was struck with both Leslie Ballamy and Ashley Laminates, so that Yitzhak Shubinsky could produce both.
ABOVE: Ashley 1172 Roadster
As Reliant had previously helped Autocars produce the Carmel" and the "Sussita", Yitzhak Shubinsky approached them again and asked them to put together a prototype using the Leslie Ballamy chassis and a modified Ashley 1172 body.
ABOVE: Sabra Prototype
In less than nine months the Reliant engineers had successfully modified the chassis, bodywork, suspension and had come up with their first prototype of the sports car which was powered by a Ford Consul 1703cc engine.
The car was named the "Sabra" and Mr.Shubinsky was delighted with the result. The idea being that the Autocars Company could build the new sports car and sell them to America. The Sabra sports car made its first appearance in the U.S.A during the World's Trade Fair held at the New York Coliseum in May 1961.
Reliant produced the first 100 Sabra Sports cars to give Autocars time to prepare their workshop in Haifa (Israel) and also shipped them to the USA on behalf of Autocars. Reliant would then send the rest of the cars in kit form to Autocars, who would then assemble them ready for sale.
Western importation for the firm was handled by Sabra Motors Inc. of Beverly Hill, California and the US press reported it as being a "VERY limited production car".
Reliant saw the opportunity to market the Sabra in the UK and quickly converted two left hand drive Sabra sports cars into right hand drives and changed the spelling of "Sabra" to "Sabre" to indicate the British version.
In 1971 Autocars went into liquidation, thus ending the partnership between Autocars and Reliant. Some Sabra body kits were left over and were held by the government. These were eventually sold off some years later.