MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Giles Chap­man

1 IT NEVER EN­TERED MIL­I­TARY SER­VICE

This lit­tle open util­ity built by the Bri­tish Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion was fa­mously de­vel­oped as an ul­tra­lightweight army pa­trol ve­hi­cle for which no mil­i­tary or­ders ever ma­te­ri­alised. The Royal Navy showed the most in­ter­est, but only for use on the decks of air­craft car­ri­ers. How­ever, a trio of Mokes did go into bat­tle. Dur­ing the 1969 Rupu­nuni Re­bel­lion in Guyana, three ve­hi­cles were cap­tured from rebels by the Brazil­ian Army, af­ter they were driven over the bor­der. into Brazil. The Is­raeli Army also used Aus­tralian-built ex­am­ples and Bond vil­lains liked them.

2 IT WAS DE­SIGNED AS A PAS­SEN­GER CAR

Ac­tu­ally, the Moke was not a car at all. Well, at least at first. It was sold as a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle through both Austin and Morris dealer net­works. At £405, it was the cheap­est four-wheeled ve­hi­cle on the Bri­tish mar­ket, but it came with a sin­gle seat for a driver and, in­deed, a sin­gle wind­screen wiper be­cause the tar­get mar­ket was small busi­nesses and other or­gan­i­sa­tions that could make use of its open-topped util­ity. As such, there was no Pur­chase Tax payable on the ba­sic Moke, which also came only in dark green. The cun­ning ruse, though, was to add the seats af­ter the ve­hi­cle had been sold, with the other wiper and maybe some zip-up plas­tic side-screens at­tached to the flimsy can­vas fold­ing top – giv­ing you a con­vert­ible fun car on the cheap. This is what hap­pened to most Mokes, and by 1967 HM Cus­toms & Ex­cise had spot­ted the loop­hole, and deftly re-clas­si­fied it as a pas­sen­ger car, sin­gle seat or not. The price went up by £78, al­most a fifth of its re­tail cost, and what few Bri­tish sales there were to be had for BMC van­ished overnight.

3 THEY WERE ALL TWO-WHEEL DRIVE

Well, most were. A few four-wheel drive ex­am­ples were made, dubbed Twi­nis, and fea­tur­ing a sec­ond en­gine and gear­box at the rear with linked clutches and shifters. Aus­tralia (where the Moke was built from 1966 to 1981) also made a few 4x4s, al­beit with just the one en­gine. Alas, this pro­ject came to noth­ing when Oz pro­duc­tion ended soon af­ter­wards.

NO 5: MINI MOKE

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