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Article by Max and Maree De Oliver

It all started out as a bit of fun to drive around on warm and sunny weekends. It has been a father son and Maree effort.

The Moke was brought for $850.00 and needed a good tune up. So tune up done it was off to rego. On the way to rego after taking off from the lights in the main street, the little Moke came up with a big clicking noise, thought to be a CV Joint. No such luck, it turned out to be 2 teeth broken off on the cram wheel in the diff. So while the diff, Gear box and motor where in pieces, it was decided that a set of rings and bearings would be in order. But Terry at QIM (Queanbeyan Industrial Motors) had another idea. Max if you put this cam shaft and these bigger pistons into your 1275cc motor it will go much better and you may as well rebuild the gear box at the same time. $6.500 later motor, gear box and diff are ready to reassemble. While all this was happening, Max decided to paint the white Moke blue, while putting the Moke back together, Max noticed a couple of bits not good enough to go back in our Moke. So Max said let’s put an ad in the Canberra times it read “Wanted Mini Moke dead or alive”. The ad returned 15 phone calls (15 Mokes) much to Maree’s discuss Max bought 12 of them. Plenty of part’s now darling Max replied.

Now after a lot of hard work and 10 months later the Moke is fully restored not a bolt and nut unturned or painted, now it was back to reg, passed no worries the Moke was entered in the 1st Australian Moke Muster held 2006 at Shepperton Victoria. Imagine 200 Moke’s in one place at the same time. They came from all over Australia. One couple even brought their Moke out from England. THAT’S DEDICATED IF YOU LIKE. We entered our Moke in the show and shine competition, we came 3rd in the ute class. THE   MOKE has been in our family for the last 12 years and now with 4 grand children ONE in particular LILLY who is only 3 years old says it is hers and poppy’s Moke so we guess it will stay around a bit longer

The Moke has also proudly brought Santa Clause to our STARC Christmas parties for the kid’s. It sure takes the slack out of those soft top Mercedes Benz’s and Rolls Royce convertibles. It might not be as comfortable but it will still mess your hair up and turn heads when you drive it down the street no worries at all.

MAREE and Max with his love of old cars has a follow up story to tell in a latter edition how she sent him down to Woollies to buy milk and bread and he came home with a FJ HOLDEN.

The Mini Moke – it became an Aussie icon.

Article and photos by Steve Cole.

The British Motor Corporation built the Mini Moke on a design by Sir Alec Issigonis and based on the Mini using identical engine, transmission and suspension parts.   When Issigonis designed the Mini, he intended to produce another vehicle with a more rugged body shell. The name “Moke” comes from an archaic dialect term for donkey. Presumably this was in reference to the cars workhorse role rather than any comment on those likely to buy one!!

Interestingly, the initial prototype was built as a light military vehicle but its small size and low stance precluded its use as an off-road vehicle. BMC subsequently built the Moke as a low-cost, easily maintained utility vehicle in which guise it went on to achieve extraordinary popularity that endures to this day. Built initially at the Morris factory in Oxford, production moved to BMC’s Longbridge, Birmingham plant, and eventually overseas where it was marketed under variously as Austin Mini Moke, Morris Mini Moke and Leyland Moke.

Mokes were built in the United Kingdom between 1964 and 1968 (14,500), in Australia between 1966 and 1981 (26,000), and in Portugal between 1980 and 1993 (10,000).

The first prototypes were built in 1963 and one is still known to exist in Pinner just outside London. The Moke was first launched onto the British market in 1964. The Moke levered off the amazing success of the Mini and through media exposure in the popular television series of the time “The Prisoner”. The Moke achieved ‘cult’ vehicle status finally as a beach buggy type vehicle especially in tropical locations where the natural “air-conditioning” was a real bonus.   Of the 14,500 British Mokes sold only about a tenth of them stayed in Britain, the rest ending their days in more tropical climates where the vehicles attributes were more appropriately employed.

British-made Mokes were fitted with a 850 cc engine, tuned to run on low grade fuels and in a very basic trim standard where even the passenger seats, heater and removable canvas top were all optional equipment!! Owners even had to bolt these optional extras onto the vehicle themselves!! ‘Mk I’ Mokes had a single windscreen wiper and sold on only one colour “Spruce Green”. In 1967, the ‘Mk II’ Moke added a passenger-side wiper with an option of white exterior colour.

The Moke was built in Australia and marketed as the Morris Mini Moke (1966-1973) and later as the Leyland Moke (1973-1981). Early Australian Mokes had the same 10 inch wheels as British Mokes but these were soon replaced by 13 inch wheels, which made them more practical for gentle off-road use.

Australian Mokes were fitted with tubular-framed ‘deck-chair’ seats, and sported a 998 cc engine, later 1098 cc. In 1976 the locally manufactured 1098 cc motor was replaced by an imported version of the 998 cc motor with an air pump and exhaust gas recirculation with the advent of new anti-pollution requirements.

Leyland Australia briefly produced a variant referred to in Leyland literature as “Moke, special export”, but commonly called a “Californian”, which had a 1,275 cc engine (1973). The Californian was readily recognisable by its roof and seats, trimmed in ‘Op-pop verve’ black and white tiger striped vinyl or ‘Orange Bali’ vinyl, exported to the United States.

The name “Californian” and the 1275 cc motor reappeared in 1977 for Australian market sporting more comfortable seats with denim seat covers, spoked wheels[8] and ‘roo bar’ front bumpers.

Leyland Australia pioneered large-scale exports of Australian-made vehicles with the Moke, with Mokes ending up in many countries.

In 1975, a pickup version was produced, with a 55 x 59 inch drop-sided rear load bed. Also some four-wheel drive Moke prototypes were manufactured by Leyland Australia in the late 1970s, but Moke production in Australia ended in 1981. One of the prototypes remains in the hands of an enthusiast in Western Australia , another in the personal collection of a Melbourne Mini specialist.

The Moke even has off-road racing credentials, as in 1977, a 1,275 cc Cooper S-engined Moke was entered into the London-Sydney Marathon. The car completed the 30,000 kilometre event over 30 days and finished in a creditable 35th place.

The Moke really achieved amazing sales in Australia compared to the UK, presumably as the milder climate made it more practical.   Today they remain a cult vehicle and bring back fond memories to me of my youth in North Queensland where before the advent of air-conditioning their open plan was ideal in a hot and humid climate.


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