Cold Start: Correct Intensity


The Sabra was an interesting car, and not just because it looked a little bit like a robotic catfish dying on a roller skate; it was also one of the first Israeli-built cars, inspired when Yitzhak Shubinsky of Autocars Ltd, essentially Israel’s first carmaker, saw a fiberglass-bodied sports car at a London racing car show, where he was visiting with his business partners at Reliant, who had worked with Autocars to build the Sussita car. The Sabra was Autocar’s attempt at a sports car, and it likely deserves its own full post, but for the moment I just want to point out a detail in one of its brochures.

It’s taillight-related because of course it is. Here, look:

It’s that phrase “flashing indicators of correct intensity” that really gets me. It’s hard to think of a more space-filling bit of copy than crowing about how your car’s indicator flash with the “correct intensity,” which I’m certain was something many potential buyers crossed off their list of demands with satisfaction.

I’m sure thousands of hours of R&D and testing went into confirming that those lights flashed with an intensity that fell within the demanding, narrow “correct” range.

Bang up job, Autocars!


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24 Responses

  1. Had no idea this existed – so cool, and who doesn’t love those (optional) wheels?

    I enjoy how the grammatical convention at the time was to put things like names within quotation marks. So to us today, the ad copy makes it look like Sabra isn’t really its actual name or something.

    Also, periods in GT b/c abbreviation!

  2. And there was a shirt tail connection to one of my favorite fiberglass car makers…Reliant Motors.

    “A similar vehicle was the Israeli Sabra Sport, also based on a Ford engine and running gear. Reliant was so impressed with the design, they sold it in the UK as the Sabre to help Reliant’s company image expand beyond a three-wheeled micro-car maker. The car sold poorly against offerings from Triumph and MG, however. Later, Reliant bought a prototype design for the replacement Daimler Dart, which would become the Scimitar Coupe and later the best-selling sporting estate—the Scimitar GTE. “

    1. The Reliant Sabre Six which had IIRC the English Ford inline six and Triumph TR4 running gear and different front bodywork. Is it the same as the Sabra Sport?

      As a kid I perused the Motor and Autocar road test annuals amongst the cars mags that accumulated on my father’s book shelves. I can’t remember which publication had the test, but it was the 1963 or 1964 annual.

      I think when people saw the name Reliant they thought of the cheap three wheeler and that association was a negative. I believe four wheel Bond offerings were afflicted by a similar curse.

  3. As a guy with a lot of Israeli friends, this totally tracks.
    Buyer: So this car has those super-intense indicators?
    Salesmen: They are correct intensity.
    Buyer: But I heard they were beyond intense amazing lights?
    Salesmen: Correct intensity. You want car or no want car?
    Buyer: I’ll give you 20,000 shekel.
    Salesman: 200,000 shekel.
    Buyer: Ma Pitom?! For that I should get more indicator intensity.
    Salesman: You get car or no car. Correct intensity. For you? 198,950 Shekel.

  4. “Petrol tank capacity is 10 U.S. gallons — sufficient for over 250 miles of FAST motoring.”
    Impressive 25 mpg.

    Fast motoring being a relative term I’m sure. Those Israeli “hypermilers” out there could squeeze out 29.68 mpg with SLOW motoring if only there was enough Israeli highway to even travel 250 miles.

  5. What is with the reverse Zagato hump on the roof? It speaks the language of extractor vent but it’s a blank.

    Also, if no one gets around to it, I will figure out where the taillights came from once I come home to my automotive library. I am going to guess Ford Zodiac or something.

    1. Maybe it’s there for structural rigidity, so the fibre glass roof shouldn’t cave in? But sure looks strange. A fake vent, like on a hood of a Cortina, would really help a lot.

      Probably also why it hasn’t any rear opening hatch. Which kind of makes it a bit more exclusive. Like TVR, SAAB 92, an old Opel GT or an old Corvette.

      1. Actually, as an Israeli, I can tell you the real answer. It’s to make it harder for camels to take a bite out of the fiberglass roof. Folklore perhaps, but there were supposedly multiple instances of this happeninf with Autocar’s more common car, the Sussita.

      2. You are probably right.

        As for the taillights, I am leaning Austin A40 Farina – so BMC did the heavy work of identifying the correct intensity, assuming Sabra didn’t play with the voltage… the Sabra roadster had taillights from the Giulietta Sprint.

  6. I’m wondering how the taillight community feels about the way Sabra was proud of the lack of flamboyancy in their rear light clusters. Personally, I like a little ostentation when it comes to rear light fixtures. Why be plain? Taillights are meant to be noticed.

  7. I am a big fan of rear amber turn signals and think they are much safer than using red (the same color as your tail and brake lights). Your intention to change lanes is communicated more quickly than another red light. Drivers following your car cannot mistake it for a brake light. Every second counts when it comes to avoiding accidents. I believe it is the law in most other countries.
    I even take it into consideration when buying car!
    I know you all agree!
    And to go even further out on a limb:
    Favorite rear tail lamp assemblies: Saab Sonett III, Citroen DS 21 (European model), Lotus Europa S1 (from a Lancia), Tatra 603

  8. Autocars actually tried to sell Sabra Sussitas and Sabra Sports in the US, focusing just on metro areas with significant Jewish populations (so, I guess, New York, Miami, LA?), under the theory that those areas would be most receptive to the idea of buying an Israeli car. It didn’t work, other than a stand at the New York auto show and a few newspaper ads, I dont think the idea when anywhere. Skoda probably sold more cars in the US by a good margin

  9. Torch, I do love you man…
    Do you see the irony in picking on “space-filling copy” here?

    JT: “Is this loosely associated with taillights?”
    DT: “Seems to be…”
    JT: “Full Send!”
    DT: “That’s not how that wo… oh, fuck it.”

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