This is the story of how MOKE became a design icon and much-loved beach accessory.
From St Barth to St Tropez, today, MOKE is at home in elegant resorts around the world. It’s design, perfect for costal roads, a day out surfing or an evening barbeque by the beach. Although, wet swimwear and sandy toes were far from Sir Alec Issigonis mind when he first designed the iconic MOKE silhouette back in 1959.
STEER CLEAR OF IMITATIONS
At the end of the 1950’s the British Army needed a suitable lightweight, parashoot-droppable air utility vehicle. A brief was sent, and a prototype was developed. The British Motor Corporation’s response was a vehicle codenamed “Buckboard”. Built under Issigonis’s supervision it was presented to the Queen’s troops in 1959. The first prototype failed to pass inspection due to its low ground clearance and small 848cc engine.
THE MINI MOKE
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.
AUSTIN MINI MOKE
The Austin Mini also designed by Sir Alec Issigonis had proven to be a big success for its distinctive bubble car looks. So, in 1964 the MINI MOKE switched gear from military brass to rockstar royalty.
THE BEATLES, BARDOT AND BOND
The British Motor Corporation (BMC) continued to produce variations of MOKE starting with the Morris Mini MOKE, in 1966 for the Australian market. Throughout the 1960’s MOKE established itself in popular culture featuring in ‘Cult’ TV series like The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan. In 2021 the distinctive striped canvas top and seat covered MOKE featured in The Prisoner sold at auction for £69,750.
MOKE also made it to the big screen in four James Bond movies. (You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker)
Throughout the 70’s and 80’s the MOKE Californian and subsequent BMC Portuguese model could be spotted driving around the Mediterranean coastline and Caribbean islands. From Paul McCartney to Bridget Bardot, being in a MOKE was counterculture to the fast and furious celebrity lifestyle.
The last BMC MOKE rolled off the production line in 1993. After this date imitations were manufactured in China and the USA.
A NEW DAWN
25 years on, MOKE was reborn in 2018, with MOKE International recommencing production in Europe. The MOKE remained faithful to its origins and iconic looks, whilst integrating a new 4 cylinder, fuel injection engine and uprated suspension and braking, with the option for either automatic transmission or manual.
AN ELECTRIC FUTURE
In 2022 MOKE International launched the Electric MOKE and became the first automotive brand from the 1960’s to go 100% electric. Designed and manufactured exclusively in the UK, MOKE is for a Worldwide audience, who have time to take it slow and enjoy life’s journey.