Moke History with pics & images of early mini-mokes in black & white

The Mini Moke was motoring at its most basic – a box-sided tray on wheels with a windscreen and the simplest of seats. In a warm climate it was great fun for taking down to the beach, a sort of four wheeled motorbike, but it was very draughty in the cold and wet with the “rag top” up and it did not offer much protection when mixing it with semi-trailers on the freeway.

The Moke was born in response to the British Army’s search for air transportable vehicles. It was certainly light and compact, particularly with the windscreen down, but the front wheel drive, small wheels and low ground clearance cannot have given sufficient mobility, although experimental four wheel drive Mokes were built – with two engines and transmissions, power at each end! The general idea was to design a utility version of the Mini- a lighter weight Land Rover to be capable of packing in crates to be dropped from the sky with a parachute or lowered by helicopter (if you look carefully at a Moke, you can see how with the windscreen removed, they do stack on top of each other, the wheels on the top one fitting nicely on the wings underneath). The big military orders fell through but the Moke went on to become a cult, a real classic car.A few years later Leyland decided to transfer production to Australia. The Australian army liked them so did the Australian Public, well they did after increasing wheel size, ground clearance, engine size etc. Eventually after the Australian Public had their fun, the Portuguese (Cagiva) had a short attempt, later the Italians (Cagiva still) who made the final slight modifications and the final few Mokes. there is a hint of starting production again we’ll wait and see.

  • 1960, Austin investigate a light weight minimalist vehicle suitable for air transport for the British Army.
  • 1963, Mini Moke prototype built but the Army abandons interest.
  • 1964 August, civilian Mini Moke released, based on the front wheel drive Minicar with an 850cc engine transversely mounted.
  • 1966, Moke production transferred to Australia.
  • 1968, larger 13″ wheels raise ground clearance to 8″, 1100c engine fitted.
  • 1972, Californian Mokes produced with 1275cc motor for the US market.
  • 1981 November, Leyland Australia stops building Mokes but production is transferred to Portugal.
  • 1992, Moke production stops in Portugal. Tooling sold to Cagiva of Italy who built 1500 Mokes

These dates are courtesy of the Moke Owners Association.

Thank you to John Taylor for this info.

Pre-Production/Prototype Mokes

The Moke was originally developed during the ’50s to meet a need in the British Army, and went through a number of different prototypes, including a twin-engined 4WD “Twinni-Moke”. The British Army didn’t like the Moke that much and decided to use Citroen 2CV pickups instead, but some Mokes did end up in military service. Mokes were also trialed by the U.S. Army and several Commonwealth nations including Australia and New Zealand. These early vehicles differ from the later production models, having features like hinged windscreens, different body-shells, wheel-bases, etc.
One of the early Moke prototypes of around 1960-61. This one appears destined for the United States (note that it’s left-hand drive) or possibly North Africa (?). The sides show the original open “buckboard” design, but it has a side-mounted fuel tank like the production models. The front- and rear-end styling is very similar to the production Mokes apart from the large cut-aways on the bottom corners

Little Wheeler Mokes

The Moke went into civilian production in 1964 and was available as either an Austin or Morris, depending on the dealer. It was produced for only 4 years and 14,518 were built, only about 10% of which stayed in England. It was extremely basic having a seat for the driver, one wiper blade and little else. Front and rear passenger seats, heater, side screens, sump-guard, etc. were all additional cost extras! Spruce Green was the only colour available, and they were fitted with 10″ wheels and the 848cc engine as per the Mini. Production was transferred in its entirety to Australia in 1968, although it was already in production there since 1966. The early Australian Mokes were fitted with a larger 998cc engine, and remained unchanged until 1969.
The little-wheeler Mini Mokes suffered from poor ground clearance due to the 10″ wheels, but were still agile performers. The side boxes house the battery and fuel tank and provide some storage space.

Australian Mokes

The Moke started production in Australia in 1966, when the first civilian “little wheelers” were released. Many changes were made to the original design, including the fitting of larger engines (998, 1100 and eventually the 1275cc), stronger sump guard, parcel shelves, better seats and hood, re-routing of cabling and brake/fuel pipes for greater protection, etc. In an attempt to overcome the Moke’s ground clearance problems, 13″ wheels were fitted which required special rear trailing arms and wheel arch extensions to cope with the larger wheels. The up-market “Californian” version of the Moke was produced to cater for the growing recreation market. It featured bull/kangaroo bars front and rear, wider spoked wheels, better seats, and rubber floor linings. A utility/pick-up version of the Moke was also produced. Production of the Australian Mokes stopped in 1982 (the assembly lines were used to build more profitable Peugeots!)
This information was sourced from the below site.
Henry Sapiecha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *