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Mini Moke makes its comeback

Wed, 09 Oct 2013 00:00:00 -0700

It wouldn't be entirely fair to put the Mini Moke into the 'so bad it's good' category, but the fact remains, the Moke wasn't that great. And yet, despite its tepid performance, questionable off-road ability and tendency to rust, it was a runaway success.

And let's face it, the Mini Moke remains one of the coolest cars ever created. Which is why we're ever so slightly excited about the news that the Moke is to return. It has taken every last drop of willpower not to greet the news with an Austin Powers style "yeah, baby."

On Bing: see pictures of the Mini Moke
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Moke International is an Australian company which, deciding that the Moke was 'too cool to die', set about bringing it back from the dead. And given that 26,000 Mokes were made by BMC (British Motor Corporation) Australia, it seems rather fitting that the car is being reborn 'Down Under'.

The original Mini Moke was launched in 1964, with Sir Alec Issignonis (designer of the original Mini) trying - rather unsuccessfully - to force the military-style miniature car on the armed forces.

Its lightweight construction and air portability should have made it a winner, but it was literally stopped in its tracks by its abysmal ground clearance.

Yet despite this, the Moke was a commercial success, proving to be a big hit with the hip and trendy people of the late 1960s. It was also a successful export for BMC, with the USA, the Caribbean and the Southern Hemisphere being particularly strong markets. Naturally, the more favourable weather conditions would have played a part in this...

Some 14,500 Mokes were built in the UK, but the legacy lived on in Australia, and also in Portugal, where the Moke continued in production until 2013.

On a beach on the east cost of Australia or the west coast of America, the Moke seems to work. Throw in some Beach Boys music, some bright sunshine and annoyingly beautiful people and the effect gets even greater.

And Moke International's website reflects this gloriously sunny and positive image. The new company invites you to 'start having fun', which is what cars like the Moke are all about.

According to the firm, the new Moke has been designed with an emphasis on comfort, performance and safety, whilst remaining true to the original aesthetics. Moke International teamed up with Sicar Engineering and China's Chery Motors to bring the Moke back into full production.

Standard specification is - as you'd expect - spartan, but you do get 13-inch alloy wheels, windscreen wipers, bucket seats, door mirrors, headlights, a front bumper and a grille.

As for safety features, well whilst the front seat passenger benefits from an airbag, the driver has to do without one.

Power comes from a tiny 993cc 4-cylinder engine, producing 49hp and 69lb ft of torque. This compares favourably with the original's 34hp and 33lb ft output. Aside from that, the Moke is how we remember it. Basic and fun.

Moke International is planning on selling 1,000 cars a year, with Australia and New Zealand being the obvious target markets. There are even plans afoot for an electric Eco Moke - just the thing for nipping between the beach and the surf shop.

Welcome back, Moke. A car that's as cool today as it was in the Swinging Sixties. MSN Cars will bring you more news on the 2013 Moke soon.

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By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith, contributor, MSN Cars