Triumph 1300 : Autocars Israel

The Triumph 1300 was built in Israel by Autocars in a small-scale CKD operation.

No doubt, the sophisticated little Triumph was seen as an effective upward expansion of the range…

Oded Furst's Autocars Triumph is still in rude health to this day...
Oded Furst's Autocars Triumph is still in rude health to this day...

The Michelotti-deisgned, front-wheel-drive Triumph 1300/1500 was assembled in Israel by Autocars between 1967 and 1973, from original British parts. At that time, the Israeli market was very much centralised and dictated by the government. As another Israeli company was assembling the Japanese, rear-engined Hino Contessa 1300 (also designed by Michelotti, incidentally), a direct 1300cc competitor was not allowed.

Therefore, the 1500 power unit was adapted to the Triumph 1300 body as early as 1967. It is not known whether it was developed in Britain exclusively for the small Israeli market, or if Triumph had this unit already designed. As far as is known, this was the very same power unit to be used 3 years later (from 1970) in the British 1500 FWD cars. The same combination (1500 engine in 1300 body) is believed to have been used in South African-assembled cars and certainly the Toledo was available there as a 1500.

The Israeli car looks exactly the same as the British version ö same body, same suspension units though is of course LHD. A clue for its RHD origin is the bonnet release knob, remaining in its right hand position (quite uncomfortable to operate from driverâs seat). The speedometer shows kilometres and the badge on the rear bumper says ã1500ä.

The story continued in 1970, when the rival Contessa was not produced any more, and Autocars was allowed to use the 1300 engine. The 1500-engined car was still produced, alongside it (this was about the same time when in Britain the 1300 was replaced by the real, new 1500). Now they had two models using the same bodyshell and while the 1500 was marketed as a fully equipped luxury car, the 1300 was a cheaper, down-graded version. The Israeli 1300 was lacking the door wood trims, the bumper overriders, the back seat arm-rest, and even the heating and ventilation system! Simple plastic/rubber floor mats and door linings replaced the original velvet-like stuff, and the globe inserts in the hub caps were substituted by blank plastic plugs. In short, the car looked very much naked. But, unlike the 1500, it did have a steering lock!

Until the end of Israeli production in 1973 some of these ãextrasä returned on a 1300 Deluxe and the 1500 went gradually out of production. None of the local 1300s had the chrome piece on the bonnet but the 1500 always had it. Therefore, this item became the most obvious detail to distinguish between the models.

It is not known how many cars were produced in Israel, but there was quite a presence on the roads there during the late Sixties, early Seventies ö relatively, much more than in Britain. Most of these cars disappeared in the mid-Eighties due to bad reputation and very low market value. Very few survived and this may be the only roadworthy example.

Gallery – details

ISRAELI ‘Triumph 1500’ Oded Furst sent in some detail pictures of his car. He said: “Among the pictures: the LHD instrument panel, the typical door inner panel (and the window handle), the “1500” rear bumper badge (unique to cars with the 1500 engine in “1300” bodyshell), the engine bay with the AUTOCARS identification plate, the plate itself, and the original Hebrew service booklet from 1969.”

Snapshot of the Hebrew owners’ manual…

With thanks to Mark Ashbridge of the Triumph Dolomite owners’ club, and Oded Furst for the detail pictures…

Keith Adams


  1. While Autocars did look at producing some version of the Mini below the Triumph 1300/1500 via the Autocars Marcos W90/W95 prototypes, it is a shame BL did not allow Autocars to directly build locally made fiberglass versions of the Mini like in Chile or Venezuela as well as even the fiberglass Austin 1100/1300 ADO16 prototype.

    The same with BMC of Turkey who apparently still collaborated with BL.

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