Reliant Sabre 4

Code Name (SE1) 

Reliant launched the new Sabre 4 at the Earls Court Motor Show in London in 1961.  The Reliant Sabre was a two seater open top sports car which was moulded in glass fibre.  The Sabre received a mixed reaction by the public and dealers alike due to the unusual elongated nose with boomerang style chrome over-riders.  

ABOVE: The Sabre 4 at Earls Court 1961

Under the bonnet the Sabre used the Ford Consul 375 engine, which was available with stage 1 and stage 2 tuning modifications (at extra cost) made by reputable tuners "Alexander Engineering".   Stage 1 was mildly tuned with a single-choke Zenith downdraft carburettor.  The compression ratio was 8.9 to 1 , as compared with 7.8 to 1 on the the standard consul engine.  At an extra cost of 52 & 10 shillings you could have a Stage 2 engine, which included twin SU carburettors, which would give more top end power and could make the Sabre achieve speeds over the magic 100 m.p.h.   

HugoSabra5.jpg (148126 bytes)

ABOVE: Stage 2 "Alexander" tuned engine

At first the Les Ballamy independent front suspension system seemed overcomplicated, but on the road it worked well and in conjunction with the rear Girling combined coil springs and shock absorbers, plus the modified live rear axle located by a Watts linkage the car was praised for its virtually roll free cornering at high speeds.

HugoSabra6.jpg (133221 bytes)

ABOVE: Les Ballamy Independent Front Suspension

Reliant entered the Sabre 4 in various rallies including the 1962 Tulip Rally, 1962 RAC Rally, 1963 Ilfracombe Rally and the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally with some success.   

Towards the end of the production Reliant introduced the fixed head version of the Sabre 4 and a new short nose version was also available after much criticism of the long nose cars.

At 1,128 the car was not the cheapest sports car, fundamentally the Sabre was safe, fun to drive and economical to run.   

ABOVE: The Sabre 4 Revised "short nose" version at the motorshow

 Sabre4Lb.JPG (72134 bytes) Sabre4La.jpg (72057 bytes) Sabre4Lc.JPG (62209 bytes)

ABOVE:  "Long Nose" Sabre 4

  SabreSd.jpg (74460 bytes) Sabre4Sb.jpg (51818 bytes) SabreSc.jpg (78069 bytes) Sabre4Sa.JPG (79348 bytes)

ABOVE:  "Short" Nose Sabre 4

Cylinders: 4 in line
Bore: 82.6mm (3.25in.)
Stroke: 79.5mm (3.13in)
Displacement: 1,703 c.c. (103.9cu. in.)
Valve gear: Overhead, pushrods and rockers
Compression Ratio: 8.8 to 1
Carburettor: Single Zenith 34VN downdraught
Fuel Pump: AC mechanical
Oil Filter: Full-flow external, replaceable element
Max. Power (Net): 71 bhp @ 4,400 r.p.m.
Max Torque: 91 lb. ft. @ 2,300 r.p.m.
Gearbox: ZF 4 speed. all synchromesh
Overall Ratios: 1st 9.00
Overall Ratios: 2nd 6.00
Overall Ratios: 3rd 4.37
Overall Ratios: 4th 3.55
Final Drive: Spiral bevel, 3.55 to 1
Clutch: Single disc, dry.
Diameter: 8.5 in.
Actuation: Hydraulic


Chassis: Separate steel frame with parallel boxed side members
Body: Bolt on moulded glass fibre



Independent, with single leading arms giving semi-swing-axle geometry, Girling coil spring and co-axial telescopic damper units.

Rear: Live axle located by modified Watts linkage, Girling coil spring and co-axial damper units.


Type: Reliant rack and pinion.
Steering wheel: Carlotti 15" three-spoke light alloy with wooden rim


Type: Girling hydraulic; discs front, drums rear, no servo.
Dimensions: F: 10.5 in. discs, R: 9 in. drums, 1.75 in. wide shoes


Type: Standard: Pierced steel disc, 4 studs, 4.25in. wide rims.
Tyres: 155-15 Pirelli Cintura with tubes


Wheels: Wire-spoked with centre-lock hubs, 4.25 in. wide rims.
Other Bodies: Detachable Hardtop.


Overall Height: 4' 2"
Overall Length: 13' 9"
Overall Width: 5' 1"
Wheelbase: 7' 6"
Front Track: 4' 3"
Rear Track: 4' 2"
Ground Clearance: 5"


0-30 (mph): 5.2 sec.
0-40 (mph): 7.5 sec.
0-50 (mph): 11.4 sec.
0-60 (mph): 16.6 sec.
0-70 (mph): 23.5 sec.
0-80 (mph): 36.4 sec.
Standing 1/4 mile: 22.6 sec. @ 70 mph 
Top Speed: 99 mph
Fuel Consumption Test: 21 mpg.
Average Consumption: 28 mpg.
Max Gear Speed - 1st: 39 mph.
Max Gear Speed - 2nd: 60 mph.
Max Gear Speed - 3rd: 81 mph.
Gear Range - 1st: 0 to 37 mph.
Gear Range - 2nd: 21 to 55 mph.
Gear Range - 3rd: 42 to 77 mph.
Gear Range - 4th: 50 to 99 mph.
Brake Test: 76 Average % G, over 10 stops.