The Mini Moke (1964-1993) is based on the legendary Mini from the British Motor Company (BMC), designed by Sir Alec Issigonis. "Moke" stands for "donkey" in a local dialect. And donkeys are usually not luxury horses, but burden bearers. This creation has been marketed under various names of the various divisions such as: Austin Mini Moke, Morris Mini Moke and Leyland Moke.
Failed as Jeep XS. And XS stands for 'Extra Small'.
The original design was intended as a light military, versatile vehicle in the style of the American Jeep. However, because the designers assumed small wheels and little ground clearance, the result was not very suitable for the terrain. Only the Royal Navy was interested in use on aircraft carriers. But of course that didn't save the world.
A new destination
It was then decided to offer the Mini Moke as a cheap and easy to maintain passenger car for light commercial applications, including on farms. Eventually, the Moke achieved its greatest success as a beach buggy and became a true cult wagon in many tropical resorts in the Caribbean. In Macau, the small open-air car was for some time the official means of transport of the local police. That must have led to costly pursuits! The car also featured in a number of James Bond films and the Gendarme comedies by French actor Louis de Funès.
"As long as it's green"
The first Mokes were only available in spruce-green (pine green), and had the same engine, transmission and suspension as the Mini Van. They were built in Birmingham (UK, 1964-1968), later also in Australia (1966-1981) and Portugal (1980-1993). In the first instance, passenger seats, handles, heating, windscreen wipers and a removable canvas top were optional. The owners had to assemble these themselves. Such a Mini Moke cost £ 405.
The Australian specimens were exported to many countries. From 1975 onwards, a pick-up version was even produced with a bed to be used as a bed, a valve of 1,45 x 1,50 meters and a canvas cloth with which the cabin could be covered.
Mokes are everywhere
They are still driving around in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles. They are very popular with tourists. In the early '70, a Mini Moke was the first motorized vehicle on the island of Pitcairn, making it the most lonely car on earth. According to our information, he remained the only vehicle on the island and he bravely walked on to at least 1988.
A kind of Intercity
The Mini Moke also turned out to be a good conversion for use on the railway tracks. The Tasmanian Railways had 16 hard roofs. These were used for inspection and maintenance on the narrow gauge.
The original Mini Moke was never available as a "kit car", but because Mini parts are widely available, many companies have made copies of the trolley. An Australian company launched the New Moke in 2016, about € 20.000 for the cheapest version.
De Moke in the photos
We found this Mini Moke at Classic Park and it is a late copy from 1993, built in Portugal by the Italian Caviga that had bought the production rights from MG Rover in 1990. Caviga only built 1.500 copies. The Portuguese Moke's had a lockable box at the rear (the description “trunk” is exaggerated in this case). These later models also have a significantly firmer roll cage than earlier ones. This beautifully maintained Mini Moke has only driven 13.800 km.