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Mini Moke (1964 - 1993)

Last updated 19 October 2013

Basic fun
...For the beach - in warm climes


The Mini Moke was originally the brainchild of Alec Issigonis, who conceived it as a lightweight, simple, flat-pack vehicle for the military. However, the armed forced didn't fall for the Moke, preferring to play it safe with Land-Rovers. Instead, BMC sold the Moke as a fun fashion accessory. You weren’t one of the in-crowd if you hadn't driven one down Carnaby Street.

BMC had not enjoyed much success with its attempts to produce cars for the military. Both the Austin Gipsy and Champ had failed – and when Mini designer, Alec Issigonis penned the Moke, the new car followed its predecessors’ tracks into obscurity. Or it would have done, had it not picked up a cult following. After investing a lot of money in creating a basic, low-maintenance Mini variant to use for ferrying army personnel, the armed forces dismissed it because of its lack of ground clearance. BMC tried to sell it to the public, but sales were never a strong point, despite purists falling for it. The problem in Britain was simple – it was very open, and the climate was wet. Production shifted to Australia in 1966, where the Moke enjoyed more success as a basic carry-all, and a factory opened in Portugal in 1980 to build Mokes under licence.

The strangest variant, built as a prototype to try and win another military contract, was the four-wheel drive Moke of 1966. It had two engines – one to power each axle. It’s probably more famous for its appearances in various James Bond films and the Prisoner, as the transport of choice for various henchmen. Production switched to Australia in 1968, with a rise in engine size from 848cc to 998cc, and then 1098cc with the Mk2 of 1969. The Moke Californian of 1971 had a 1275cc unit. Portuguese manufacture began in 1980 and ended in 1993, and a distant descendent is still being built in China.

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