The Almac Story, Part Four

The Sabre - Patrick Harlow 

It was time to start another project. Alex had still not been able to build a car that was a unique Almac. The Almac 427SC was still called a Cobra and the TC and TG were called either MGs or MG look-alikes. Cobra production was still pretty consistent but Alex reasoned that it could not go on forever. There are just so many Cobra buyers in New Zealand and it was time to have a go at building a more modern car. Before the Sabre was this attempt that never got past the buck stage. Code named CaBy now Alex’s family had grown up and his son Stuart had picked up his fathers fascination for cars and would regularly doodle car designs on his schoolbooks and sketch pads. The two of them started work on a car was intended to be a modern interpretation of the Cobra but it would be all original. Front of the Car buck. Some styling cues for his next project the Sabre can be seenThe first attempt went under the codename of “Car” and would take some of its design cues from the MGB. While the buck was taking shape Alex became disenchanted with it and it was eventually consigned to the tip. The photographs shown give an indication of how far along the design process the “Car” got. It was back to the sketchbooks again. 

If it was going to be a modern interpretation of a Cobra, that is where they would start. The rear of the Sabre started off life using an existing Cobra rear endTaking a Cobra boot and lots of bog another car started to take shape in the Almac factory during 1991. Once again Alex was reminded just how complex a job it is to build a production kit car from scratch. It is a constant case of designing something and then redesigning it to see if it looks or fits any better. Again following on from what Alex had learnt with the TG this would be based on a single donor car. The car he chose this time was the Ford Cortina, which had not changed mechanically from the 1973 until production ended in 1984. As with the TG it would have a chassis solely designed and produced in house. 

The Almac Sabre was first featured in the ClassicThe Sabre like the others before it starts off life as a customwood and plaster buck Car magazine in May of 1994 and Alex received a huge number of inquiries about the car. Unfortunately the kit car market had changed. Its main competition the MX5, due to the invasion of Japanese imports, could now be purchased for about $11,000 which was only a thousand dollars more expensive than the Sabre kit. The Cortina was not Almost finished rear styling of the Sabreseen as a good lineage to build a sports car from. Although magazines such as Driver (1995), Which Kit (1996), Classic Car again (2000) gave the car good publicity production ceased in 2001 after only nine models had been made.  

Diversion: The Clubsprint 

As Alex now heads towards retirement most would have thought that car production would start to slow down but the kit car industry is again going through a revival. So much so that in 2002 Alex started his final car, the Almac Sabre Series 2. Like the TC and TG Alex has again looked at all the shortcomings of the original Sabre and improved them. Series 2 Sabre prototype heads towards completioThe car has been moved away from the MX5, further upmarket where although it will be more expensive to build it will be able to compete more favourably. A new and stronger chassis has been designed. All the Cortina bits are gone apart from the windscreen and a Lexus V8 is the preferred motor. The body has received a significant face lift and the car now only resembles its predecessor in profile. Sabre Series 2The new Sabre was launched at the Hamilton Motor Show in March 2004 and already he has orders for five on his books. It is still too early to tell how successful this car will be but the early indications are quite promising. Production has already started and the first example of this car could be seen in the 2004 Targa Rally. 

What is next on the horizon? Well after a quarter century of designing and building cars Alex will now be content to just build them and the short-term future looks quite promising. The Cobra now sells itself and almost two hundred have gone through the door. Clubsprint production has also started to increase.


The Sabre