The iconic Mini Moke – now just called Moke – is a step closer to returning to Australia after production of the modern version moved back to the UK this week.
The sun-loving, beach-going Mini Moke could make a comeback in Australia, even though plans for a revival have stalled several times over the past few years.
The reborn Mini Moke – now simply called Moke after a British firm bought the rights to the name – will once again be manufactured in the UK after a deal to assemble the vehicles in France reached a dead end.
While it is unclear if the modern Moke will be eligible for road use in Australia – given it has no airbags, lacks modern side impact crash protection, and is missing other bare minimum safety aids – it could make a return as a resort vehicle used on private properties.
A representative for Moke International told Drive from the UK overnight: “We’re very much aware the Moke is an icon in Australia and the desire to bring it back to Australia is dear to our hearts.
The representative said that while the company is focused on the UK and Europe at the moment “we absolutely would love to bring the Moke back to Australia in some way.”
“We very much have eyes on Australia as a great international market for Moke,” the spokesman told Drive.
“We are very proud of our heritage Australia and the role Mokes have played in some of the best beach resorts in the world. We soon hope to make an announcement regarding a potential return to Australia.”
The modern Moke is powered by a 1.1-litre four-cylinder petrol engine sourced from Japan with more grunt than the original (50kW/93Nm) and modern fuel-injection.
The Moke International website lists among the new model’s safety features three-point seatbelts, roll bars, and a steering lock (to prevent theft).
Standard features proudly listed on the company’s website include headlights, indicators, and windscreen wipers and washers.
The interior has a basic analogue speedometer and an old-school radio.
Unlike the original, the new Moke has power steering and a heated windscreen to clear fog in humid conditions.
As with the original, a vinyl roof and zip-up plastic windows are optional extras.
Despite a number of assurances Moke will return to Australia, the plans are yet to come to fruition.
If the new Moke does go on sale in Australia, it won’t be cheap. The UK price is £20,000, which roughly translates to about $AU35,000.
The original Moke – based on the same underpinnings as the original Mini – went on sale in the UK in 1964 and was designed as a military vehicle light enough – yet strong enough – to be dropped from a plane behind enemy lines.
However, the military opted instead for more robust Land Rovers and Jeeps and the Mini Moke was eventually repurposed as a holiday vehicle or for surfers and beach-goers.
Approximately 26,000 Mini Mokes were made in Australia from 1966 to 1981 in a Leyland factory in Zetland. One of the most popular models was called the Californian.
Equipped with a more powerful engine, fancy white wheels, and painted in bright colours, the Moke Californian helped extend the life of the vehicle locally.
Until now, the revived Moke International company has been selling vehicles into the Caribbean market, where the vehicle is bought by resorts and private buyers.
The company plans to expand to resort markets in Europe, the US “and beyond.”
Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.