This Vintage Off-Roader is Actually a Mini at Heart
When it arrived in 1959, British Motor’s zippy Mini was nothing short of a sensation. It was simply designed, small and nimble, reasonably priced, and reflective of its huge popularity, it lived on for over four decades in production—a stunning feat. But interestingly it had a brother…a rough-and-tumble, never-ending-party type of brother, and this is it. The storied Mini Moke. Packing on a substantial off-road persona, the Moke (an English term for “donkey”) was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis in parallel with his famous Mini people’s car. It sported the same chassis and running gear as the Mini but was originally developed for use as a British military vehicle. However, that dream wouldn’t quite work out. RELATED: Take a Closer Look at the Iconic '60s Mini Cooper
The Mini Moke could be airlifted by helicopter with ease, but its tiny wheels, front-wheel drive setup, and low ground clearance didn’t fly with either the British Army or the U.S. Army (a twin-engine, four-wheel drive version was tested too). Instead, British Motor Corporation created a civilian version and introduced it to the public in 1964, packing four seats, an A-series four-cylinder, and not much else.
The Moke became a popular albeit niche vehicle among enthusiasts, and really caught on as a trendy beach buggy. Production continued through the 1960s in England as well as in Australia, which stamped out Mini Mokes until the early ‘80s. At that point, British Leyland shifted output to a subsidiary in Portugal, which kept this odd ball off-roader alive until its death in 1993. Pity. Across its lifespan, Moke engines ranged from the original 848 cc motor, to a pair of 1.0-liter engines, and a later 1,275 cc unit.
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But don't cry for the Mini Moke just yet. Weirdly enough, it's actually back in production! An Australian company by the name of Moke International has redesigned a number of the ute's components and is now slinging Mokes in Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, and soon a dozen other nations. There’s very little likelihood it would ever arrive on U.S. shores again due to strict safety regulations, however it could always make its entry as a knock-down component kit car.
The ’68 Austin Mini Moke pictured here recently scampered onto eBay, and while it's said to tote its original 1.0-liter engine, it has enjoyed a thorough revitalization. The custom job now features matte black exterior paint, wheels, crimson seat belts, heated seats, a spray-on Rhino Linings interior and undercoat, as well as a water resistant stereo. A beach vehicle it most certainly is.
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