Gamda Koor Sabra of Israel

Gamda Koor Sabra

Gamda Koor, also sometimes referred to as Sabra, was an Israeli diecast toy company that specialised in 1:43 scale cars. Most of these were original castings. At one time, the toy company Cragstan marketed Gamda Koor Sabras as "Detroit Seniors" for the American Market.

Gamda was a toy brand name belonging to the company Habonim which was situated at Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi located in Northern Israel. The name "Koor" was added later when the company partnered with another firm owned by the Israeli trade union Histradrut. The last name "Sabra" was added to the mid-1960s diecast line (mostly American cars). These models were sold as "Sabra Super Cars" and were, in the main, castings of vehicles not made by other European model makers (the target market). Most Sabras were manufactured between 1969 and 1972. It is interesting to note that the name "Sabra" was also given to an Israeli real car brand during the mid-1960s.

In 1962, the company started by re-casting old British D.C.M.T. (aka Lonestar) and Jordan & Lewden River Series dies of tractors, trucks and military vehicles. Gamda vehicles were produced in two distinct series:

1. transport related (Jeeps, Daimlers, an American Buick, a Ford Prefect, a Standard Vanguard delivery truck, buses, milk trucks, petrol tankers), or

2. military related (Jeeps, tanks, trucks, and trailers). One of the more popular issues was a wheeled tank or armoured car.

All early Gamda models are in high demand by collectors.

It is thought there were 24 base models in the Gamda Koor Sabra series and they seem to be numbered from 8100 to 8123. Models were available in a civilian, military, police, or taxi liveries. Some models, like the Barracuda, Charger, Torino and GTO, are rare and sought after by collectors.

Early Gamda Koor Sabra cars were marketed in a clear plastic box with a red "garage door" on one end. These clear boxes were backed with a white, red, and yellow card that said "Sabra Super Car" and included a collector coin and information slip translated into twelve languages for the international market. Later cars had a darker blue card and some came with a cut-out puzzle for added play value.

When toy maker Cragstan wanted to gain a share of the diecast market that reknown brands Corgi and Dinky had captured, it approached Gamda Koor Sabra to use its models for Cragstan's international sales into America. These models also used the garage door box, but were often produced with a more "patriotic" red, white and blue colour scheme on the backing card and down the side of the box. Cragstan called its versions of the Sabra Super Cars "Detroit Seniors". The Cragstan and "Detroit Senior" names were also molded into the plastic chrome bases of these issues, otherwise there were few differences between Gamda Koor Sabra and Cragstan castings. The Cragstan cars originally sold for $1.49 on the US market, but models with the Israeli Police, Israeli Army and Israeli Post symbols on them did not sell well.

Cragstan Detroit Seniors

The Gamda Koor Sabra model line-up was quite unique in that many of the cars in 1:43 scale had not been attempted by other manufacturers. The Charger, Barracuda, Corvair, Impala, Cadillac and Riviera seem to be original castings and not produced from second-hand tooling obtained from another European manufacturer. Considering the uniqueness of the tooling and the Israeli focus for the liveries, the Gamda Koor Sabra line is an interesting line and distinctive in the world of diecasts.

Although the quality of assembly could have been better, the overall character of the cars makes them a collectable series in their own right. The realism of the shape, compared to the real cars, was good but not up to the standard of other companies of the time. Some proportions look good while others appear stretched; some roofs are a bit squarish; and the opening doors on some models look rather round when compared to the body panels they are supposed to match up with. Many of the cars have front and rear bumpers that are part of the plastic base, as was common in other makes such as Corgi and Dinky. However, in many cases the bumpers do not line up with the diecast metal bodies, leaving gaps between the metal casting and the plastic base. The wheels were often simple cast metal hubs with protruding axle ends. Some later cars had plastic five-spoke "star shaped" chrome wheels.