Military Failure: 1971 Mini Moke

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Originally designed by BMC as a contender to be a multi-use vehicle for the British military forces, the Moke failed to win military support for one very simple reason: As an off-road vehicle, it simply didn’t possess the ground clearance to go off-road. Part of the problem lay in the Moke utilizing the engine and transmission from the Mini, while the inclusion of 10″ wheels sealed its fate. Barn Finder Pat L spotted this Moke, so I have to thank you for that Pat. The Moke is located in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist.

The styling of the Moke was no happy accident but was the result of some very clever lateral thinking. The body design is so robust, that with the windshield folded flat, it is actually possible to stack one Moke on top of another, thereby saving space during military transportation. When the military aspirations of BMC foundered, the car was manufactured and marketed as simple and cheap motoring for the general public. While it wasn’t an enormous sales success, it remained in production in various guises and in different countries from 1964 until 1993.

As a proud Australian, this is my moment to do a bit of patriotic flag waving. I believe that this particular Moke may have been built in Australia, as the fact that it is a 1971 model in right-hand drive coincides with when Leyland was building the Moke in Australia for export purposes. The other tell-tale indication that this is an Australian Moke is the fact that the front and rear fenders are wider than the items on the original car. This change was made by Leyland Australia to allow the fitment of 13″ wheels to the Moke in place of the original 10″ wheels. This Moke is in quite nice condition. The paint and panels look good, and the soft-top, although different in design to the original, also looks quite good. One interesting feature of the Moke body is the fact that it contains very few curved surfaces. This was designed for ease of repair, and it makes rust repairs on a Moke very easy. This Moke doesn’t appear to have any rust issues, so it is one thing that you won’t have to worry about.

While BMC’s initial attempts to “sell” the Moke to the British military failed, they didn’t surrender easily. They even attempted to build a 4-wheel-drive version but this failed due to the complexity of the design. To achieve this status, BMC chose to build the prototypes with an engine and transmission in the front, and another one in the rear, with both throttle controls, clutches, and transmissions linked together by common controls. This design failed not only due to its sheer complexity, but because it didn’t address the Moke’s major issue, which was lack of ground clearance. This Moke doesn’t have any of those issues. The engine is a pretty normal 1,275cc BMC 4-cylinder engine, with a 4-speed manual transmission. One of the great advantages of the Moke is the fact that the vast majority of the mechanical components are shared in common with the Mini, so sourcing spares and service is actually pretty easy.

As with everything else on the Moke, the interior was designed to be pretty basic and hard-wearing. As the car developed over the years, more creature comforts did work their way into the car. The seats fitted to this Moke aren’t original, and the same can be said for the carpet, the CD player, and the additional gauges on the dash. The interior does look quite nice, and about the only thing that I would want to do would be to find a way of concealing that nest of wires behind the gauges.

This Moke is one of those cars that is hard to place a definitive value on, simply because so few of them come onto the market in the USA. A nicely restored vehicle recently sold in California for $18,000, but that was in original condition and was a left-hand drive example that wasn’t built in Australia. The owner of this Moke has set the price at $11,900. If you were trying to define the sort of person who might buy this car, it is probably the type of person who might be attracted to a vehicle like the Volkswagen Thing but wants that extra air of uniqueness. I’m sure that person is out there…somewhere.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. DSteele

    I would own that in a heartbeat that looks like it would be a lot of fun to ride around in the summer

    Like 5
    • David Rollason

      My first car when I got my licence in the late 80’s
      Not so good in pouring rain but a lot of fun to drive, I have seen them compete in Gymkana events as they handle very well.

      Like 0
    • Tony, Australia.

      Mokes pull big dollars in Queensland Australia, the rental companies love them, as do the tourists. The wife and I rented one from a company in Pt. Douglas far north Queensland, it was a blast to drive with the top down on a warm day through the rain forest areas. Security for your bits and pieces is a draw back though when you park it and go walkabout at tourist spots.

      Like 1
  2. Sam61

    The Moke looks like off-spring of “My Mother The Car.”

    An old school gas Harley 4 seat golf cart with a lift kit would be more reliable.

    Like 3
  3. Chuckster

    I can just see Gen. Patton storming across Europe in one of these. ( not )

    Like 3
  4. That AMC Guy

    Just the thing for those attempts at escaping the Village… I am not a number, I am a free man!

    Like 7
    • Sam

      Excellent reference!

      Like 1
  5. madbrit

    Some Mokes were converted to four wheel drive by installing another motor/trans unit in the back. They used the automatic trans out back with the stick trans up front. The only connection between the two was the two throttle cables.

    Other Mokes were stretched and turned into camera cars for the motion picture industry as their hydrolastic suspension lent itself to camera use.

    Like 4
  6. William Denny

    You can still get a new one, electric or gas.

    Like 2
  7. Allgonquin

    I learned to drive stick in one, on the back roads through the cane fields of Barbados in the early 70’s. Love me some Moke.

    Like 2
  8. Tin box

    They are a riot to drive, handling can be better than a regular Mini and with early ones weighting 2-300lbs less they can fly. I’ve had mine for 30yrs and the memories are inked in my brain forever – including several 4000m road trips to LA.
    This looks nice but only has a 998 engine not a 1275…muuuch slower.

    Like 1
  9. Codyco

    Had a ball with these in Barbados. Perfect for smaller roads on the island. Would like to park this one in my drive. Merry Christmas all

    Like 0
  10. Stu

    Great little runabout and lack of protection from the element’s is part of it’s charm……..

    Like 2
  11. Wayne Giles

    And we even raced them down here. The is from a 12 Hour race at the now defunct Surfers Paradise Raceway in 1968. The Ferrari in the background was driven by Jackie Stewart and local ace Spencer Martin. The Ferrari won completing 493 laps while the Moke had a few problems and only completed 311 laps to finish 7th in class They had all the attributes of a racing Cooper S in a lighter structure. I when I was working on a racing Mini we one with a spare race motors (running on Avgas) installed to run errands and pick up parts for the race car. They were great fun.

    Like 1
  12. PRA4SNW

    The Moke always reminds me of Hrach Chekijian – “Mr. Mini” to those who knew him.

    Hrach sold me my Mini. When he saw me drive into the dealership in an Audi S4, he wanted me to know that the Cooper S was a much better performance car than the S4. So, we went on the test drive of my life. With his encouragement, I did things in that car that I don’t think I’ve done since – I was sold. At the time, I didn’t know that he was a longtime BMW performance driving instructor.

    Hrach was a fixture at all Mini meets, and he was proud to show me a panoramic picture where he and his Moke would be at both ends. He would race from one end to the other while the picture was being taken.

    Article on Hrach:

    Like 0
  13. David Alt

    Hello, My name is David Alt from Maryland. I want to buy your Moke from you and will give you 13,000 for it. Yes $13,000 for it. I am in Aruba until March 30th at my home there. Please call me at 443-487-1290 on March 31. Thanks Dave

    Like 0
    • PRA4SNW

      David Alt, Unfortunately, that’s not the way Barn Finds works.

      You would have to track down the seller from Craigs List in order to see if the vehicle is still available.

      Good luck in your search.

      Like 0
      • TC Oztralia

        Don’t get me wrong here but David Alt could be a scammer, a guy named David contacted me about my Jaguar that’s for sale in Australia, he told me to send $2800 to a shipping company and they would pick the car up, he said he would then send the full price of the car plus the $2800 shipping via PayPal, ‘AFTER’ I’d paid the shipper, I checked Pay Pal but the whole amount was ‘pending’ meaning the buyer had no funds, it was a scam and he’s not that intelligent by all acounts ! BEWARE, my guy was in Kuala Lumpur.

        Like 0

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