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16 September 2020

Look out, Suzuki Jimny! Moke returns to the UK with other markets to follow

By Byron MathioudakisByron Mathioudakis
New Moke for 2021 is larger than classic original and features up-rated mechanicals - but don't expect luxury or much in safety.

Yeah baby! The Moke is back.

Not in Australia, sadly, but in its UK home market, where sales of the original lifestyle getaway machine of the 1960s will commence later this year from £20,000 before taxes, or about $A35,250.

Of course, the British Motor Corporation ceased to exist when the firm it eventually became, MG Rover, folded in 2005, but a small British-based company called Moke International has possessed the rights to the brand since 2015, and has been making a substantially redesigned and re-engineered version of the BMC Mini-based open-top four-seater front-drive fun machine since 2018.

The 2021 Moke’s body is larger than before to better accommodate four adults. The 2021 Moke’s body is larger than before to better accommodate four adults.

Most have been for resorts and other similarly leisure-focused markets in the Caribbean, according to English publication Autocar, but the 56 examples to be introduced in the UK is a toe-in-the-water exercise to gauge public reaction. More will come if there’s demand, while Autocar adds that “Moke has plans for additional build numbers for Europe, the US ‘and beyond’ in 2021”.

Whether this eventually includes Australia, we’ll have to wait and see. Currently the car does not comply with Australian Design Rules standards.

A small British-based company called Moke International has possessed the rights to the brand since 2015. A small British-based company called Moke International has possessed the rights to the brand since 2015.

That small UK production number means the car does not have to meet current stringent EU emissions and crash-test rules.

Fitted with a 50kW/93Nm 1.1-litre (1083cc) fuel-injected four-cylinder petrol engine, and driving the front wheels via either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission, the 820kg steel bodied cabriolet is capable of 109km/h, and actually achieves Euro 4 emissions standards. Airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control are unavailable.

The 2021 Moke’s body is larger than before to better accommodate four adults, the seats are waterproof, the suspension (struts up front, trailing arms out back) has been up-rated, and the steering is powered.

There’s an array of colour combinations, with 13 hues to choose from, including seven ‘heritage’ hues such as Magnolia White (beige), Flamingo Pink, St Barts Blue and Glenn Green to evoke the ‘60s original. Options include a complete hood with plastic doors for better weather protection, alloy wheels, fog lights and headlight stone guards. Wheels are 13 inches, while ground clearance is a reasonable 180mm. Warranty lasts two years.

The Moke’s seats are waterproof. The Moke’s seats are waterproof.

The person behind the project is Isobel Dando, and the Mokes are engineered in Britain, before being sent to France for final assembly. The Moke International website reveals that a full electric version is due to be released in the European Union and USA sometime in the middle of next year.

Derived from the ADO15 Austin Mini, the original Moke was launched in the UK in 1964, with Australian-build examples following two years later. Some 14,500 were made in Britain until 1968, but 26,000 were manufactured in Australia until 1981. Production finally ceased in Portugal in 1993, with a grand total of 49,937 units.

‘Moke’ is said to be an old English word for mule or donkey.