The Mini Moke, a car that hit the market in the 1960s as a recreational vehicle after failed attempts to market it to the British army as a lightweight military vehicle, is making a return to the UK market, it has been confirmed.
Moke International, the British company that now owns the Moke trademark and is the sole global supplier of the cars, has today revealed a limited run of upgraded versions in Britain, priced at £20,000 before taxes and delivery costs.
At £24,000 including VAT, only 56 are being produced to mark the 56 years since the doorless and roofless stripped-down Mini first went on sale.
Moking a comeback: A limited run of 56 reborn Mini Mokes will be produced for customers in Britain after maker Moke International received UK regulatory approval to relaunch the recreational cars
The manufacturer says the chassis still remains true to the original, which is based on the legendary Austin Mini design.
However, the 56 cars being sold to UK customers feature a raft of component upgrades.
Under the bonnet is a 66bhp 1.1-litre four-cylinder petrol engine – which is Euro 4 compliant – linked to a four-speed automatic gearbox. A manual gearbox can be fitted as an optional extra.
The top speed is a claimed 68mph, which might not be all that comfortable in a vehicle without doors, windows or a roof.
While the small-capacity engine combined with a lightweight body might sound like ingredients for a super-efficient car, the average fuel economy is a relatively disappointing 34mpg.
The chassis is slightly larger than the original to provide more cabin space for a driver and up to three passengers, though exact dimensions have yet to be revealed.
Just 56 Moke56 models will be created to mark the number of years since production of the road cars started. Under the bonnet is a 1.1-litre petrol engine producing 66bhp and capable of taking the stripped- down vehicle to a top speed of 68mph
The car comes with a choice of a 4-speed automatic or manual gearbox. The interior is extremely basic, down to the bare seats and the simple dashboard
Moke International confirmed the chassis has been extended but hasn’t released full information on the dimensions. For the first time it will have power-steering and a heated windscreen – and the suspension and brakes have been upgraded too
Further enhancements include uprated suspension and brakes and the additional of power steering and a heated windscreen – not that we can imagine many of the 56 buyers using the Moke in UK conditions where you’d need to defrost the window.
The interior remains extremely simple, with a speedometer and additional dials showing fuel level and engine temperature. Pictures also reveal it will have a radio built-in and speakers in the dashboard.
It will come in a choice of 14 paint colours, a fabric canopy if you’re caught in a downpour, and to make the limited edition run will also have chrome detailed and a Moke56 numbered plaque.
Moke International – which acquired the trademark in 2015 – says it will ‘stay true to its British and Continental roots through its strategic approach to manufacturing and engineering’.
All Moke bodies are built in the the Midlands before being shipped to Cerizay, France for final assembly.
The Mini Moke was originally created for the UK military, designed as a cheap and effective way to transport the soldiers. However, the protoype was rejected by the army due to its small wheels and low ground clearance restricting its use off-road
The Moke received plenty of celebrity attention and love when it was offered to the public from 1964. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is seen here grinning just moments after he reportedly rammed the doorless vehicle into a car driven by Associated Press photographers in Montserrat. McCartney’s wife Linda and three children are seen in the car
Production has until now been focused on meeting demand in the Caribbean market, where the Moke is still hugely popular among private buyers and luxury resorts and hotels as on-site vehicles, but following UK regulatory approval, are now available to purchase in Britain.
Additional models will be launched across Europe, the US and beyond in 2021, the brand says.
Mark Truman is the engineering lead at Moke International, having held senior technical positions at Aston Martin, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover in the past.
‘My role at Moke is to preserve the integrity and spirit of the original Moke whilst incorporating the very best of today’s technologies that match the requirements of a new generation,’ Truman explained.
‘Today’s Mokes remain true to the look and feel of the original, with a particular focus on maintaining the sense of fun and freedom that has endeared the car to so many for more than five decades.’
This 1965 advert for the Mini Moke shows the recreational vehicle in more elegant surroundings than it was originally designed
Former cricketer Sir Ian Botham pictured in 2007 in a Mini Moke with his wife Kathy and daughters
The Moke was a hit when it was sold to customers from 1964, making four appearances in Bond films since and snapped with celebrities at the wheel, including Sir Paul McCartney.
It was originally prototyped for lightweight military transportation, but the small wheels and low ground clearance made it unsuitable as an off-road army vehicle.
The first Mokes were manufactured at BMC’s Longbridge, Birmingham plant, where 14,518 were made between 1964 and 1968.
There was also subsequent production in Australia and Portugal, with assembly ceasing in the latter in 1993.
Interested buyers of the Moke56 should register interest on Moke International’s dedicated page.