Designed in the late 1950s by the Austin father Sir Alec Issigonis, the Mini MOKE finally became an icon, for its robustness and the feeling you enjoy whilst driving.
At the end of the 1950s the British Army asked the British Motor Corporation (BMC) to design a new, light, parachute-droppable, military vehicle. Alec Issigonis the father of the Mini, couldn’t have imagined then that his little MOKE, deemed unsuitable for military use, would become the iconic, must-have car around the world for sunshine territories, including St. Tropez where it was driven by one of the MOKE’s earliest fans, the glamorous Brigitte Bardot.
Before working on the Mini, Alec Issigonis designed several military vehicles, mainly during World War II. At the end of the 1950’s when the British Army sought a suitable lightweight, air-transportable, utility vehicle, a brief was sent and a prototype was trialed. The BMC’s interpretation was a vehicle codenamed “Buckboard”, built under Issigonis’s supervision. Presented to the Queen’s troops in 1959, the first prototype failed to pass inspection due to its low ground clearance and weak 848cc engine. However, the Royal Navy showed some interest in it, as a vehicle for use on the decks of its aircraft carriers.
Undaunted, the BMC made adjustments to its initial design and, in 1962, introduced the Mini Moke (Moke is an archaic dialect term for donkey). The vehicle exhibited larger tires, better off-road capabilities and improved suspension. The original 848 cc engine was also adapted to give the Mini Moke authentic 4×4 capabilities. However, military officials remained unimpressed. To recoup the car’s development costs, the BMC decided to commercialize a civilian version of the Moke. The new vehicle appeared in January 1964.
Based on the original Moke, but without doors and without many optional extras, the Austin Mini Moke was marketed in the UK as a VAT-exempt, utilitarian vehicle. However, despite this advantage and its appearance in the British television series “The Prisoner”, the Austin Mini Moke only sold 10% of the 14,518 units produced and the Longbridge plant ceased production of the car in 1968.
In 1966 in Australia, a new version of the Moke was assembled. Called the Morris Mini Moke, the car was fitted with 13-inch wheels (larger than the 10-inch British version) and a bigger 998cc (40HP) engine, which allowed it to reach a top speed of 130 km/h.
From 1973 the Morris Mini Moke was sold as the Leyland Moke and in 1976 the vehicle was fitted with a new 1098 cc motor, which was replaced a year later by a more powerful 1275 cc engine. 26,142 units of the new variant, dubbed Moke Californian, were produced. By the time its production ceased in 1981, the model had reached cult status for a whole generation of people.
In 1980 the BMC’s Portuguese subsidiary began manufacturing the Moke. Production ceased after 13 years and about 10,000 units were made. In its 30’s years of production in various countries; a total of 49,937 Mini Mokes were produced.
25 years later Moke International is bringing back this iconic car. Internationally recognised British designer Michael Young has completely redesigned and re-engineered the Moke for the 21st Century. While the new, much anticipated model remains faithful to its origins and classic look, it also integrates the most pertinent elements of today’s automotive technology for a new generation of drivers.
4-cylinder injection engine – Power Steering – Manual or Automatic Transmission – Waterproof Seats – Available in 13 colours – Multitude of Accessories Available