he Mini has been the parent to an incredible number of ingenious offspring. None has a larger cult following than the Moke.
In Britain it was introduced as a baby Land Rover, but it was perceived differently in more sunny climes. The Moke wasn't a baby Land Rover, it was a fun car. It had zip and chic, style and personality. The Moke was not about driving through mud and rounding up sheep, it was about sunshine and drinking Pimms under a setting sun. BMC wanted to sell it as a Barbour jacket and green wellies whereas it was really a blonde in a bikini.
European buyers saw the Moke for what it was, the most fun you can have on four wheels without being parked in a quiet lane.
The unique example here is the last one made by Austin Rover Group. It has a number of unique features and was bought by the head of Austin Rover's Portuguese production facility, being used exclusively by his wife in Lisbon. Finished in a one-off color scheme and fitted with a commemorative plaque, it has covered a mere 30,000 km.
|Vehicle:||1989 Mini Moke|
|Original List Price:||$12,500 (1989)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$150 parts and labor|
|Chassis Number Location:||Left inner fender arch|
|Engine Number Location:||Plate on block|
|Club Info:||Mini Owners of America, P.O. Box 26121, Santa Ana, CA 92799-6082|
This Moke brought $11,463 when it crossed the block at the Brooks’ auction in Monaco on May 12, 1999.
The “Mini Moke” has been left for dead and resurrected more times than a patient at Chicago Hope. While it may be accurate to say that this particular example was “the last one made by Austin Rover Group,” it may be worth remembering that Austin Rover Group was only one of six companies in four countries so far that have produced Mokes, and who knows, BMW may decide to revive the marque again after the millennium. These motorized Mowog parts boxes certainly have a certain panache that made them look right at home hauling Patrick McGoohan around in the British television show “The Prisoner.” What they weren’t good for was hauling paratroopers into battle, the original intention of British Motor Corporation when the Moke was first produced in 1964.
Unfortunately, it got all the wrong parts off the Mini, with tiny wheels, minimal power and poor quality control. Most of the prototypes never got themselves out of the first ditch at the Royal Army Corps testing grounds.
Attempting to salvage something out of this disaster, BMC allowed the Moke to be marketed as the cheapest motorized four-wheel vehicle in commercial production until 1967, when the government realized they weren’t actually being used as commercial trucks and started taxing them as the consumer vehicles they actually were. Production was then transferred to BMC Australia, where the minimal weather-proofing – think pup tent on a flat-bed – made more sense and they could be sold as trendy guest carts for coastal resorts and as minimal transports for sheep stations. That incarnation lasted until 1981, when the line was shipped as completely knocked down (CKD) kits to Portugal. Land Rover could then “manufacture” them there to satisfy domestic manufacturing requirements so the company could import saleable product from England. The vehicle at auction here was apparently the last produced before that operation went bankrupt. It was resuscitated by an Italian motorcycle manufacturer who bought the operation along with the “Moke” name and who kept it going until relaxation of import restrictions under new European Community trade agreements again made Moke production unsustainable, even in cheap Portugal.
So what am I to make of the price? One must remember that anything under $15,000 is impulse-purchase money for many auction participants, so a reasonable price is whatever it takes to satisfy a whim. That this vehicle has a one-off feminine color scheme and will probably out-drag the Fiat Jolly on the next estate on the Sunday brunch run into the village may have been all it took to sell this more-or-less “unique” vehicle for the $11,500 it achieved.-Gary Anderson, Publisher, British Car Magazine.