The Mini Moke was introduced in 1959 by British Motor Corporation (BMC) as a project codenamed “The Buckboard” a potential military vehicle which eventually became known as the Mini Moke. Mini comes from the car it shared parts with and Moke is an outdated word for donkey.
The chief selling point of the Mini Moke was its lightweight construction. BMC promoted the Mini Moke as a vehicle capable of being dropped into position by parachute and also being able to carry four soldiers as well as being light enough to be carried by the same four soldiers. Small wheels and low clearance translated into a lot of carrying needing to be done so the Mini Moke never drew much military interest. In 1964, BMC abandoned trying to sell the Moke as a military vehicle and decided to pursue the civilian market instead.
Thanks to the success of the Mini, the Moke quickly obtained cult status that has carried on through today. Further spurring their popularity, Mokes were commonly used as rental vehicles atmany popular resort islands. Tourists with fond memories of driving the Mini Mokes on their vacations sought them out once they returned home.
The Moke enjoyed a production run that lasted until 1993 and took place in three countries: Britain, Australia and Portugal. Since it shared drivetrain components with the Mini which was in production until 2000, parts were easily obtainable.Its simplistic design has made reproduction parts easy to manufacture, and several manufactures have made the Moke available in kit form.
MINI is now owned by BMW and has introduced a concept vehicle at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS) called the Beachcomber that shares many Mini Moke characteristics, primarily the open air MINI look.
–by Vernon Heywood
Photo courtesy of MINI