Moke makes a comeback
Hardy souls once loved the basic-but-fun Mini Moke and these days good ones are fetching big dollars, but now there’s a new Moke which aims to provide as much fun as the original, reports Paul Murrell.
A LOCAL FIRM HAS TEAMED UP with Chinese manufacturer Chery to recreate the car that defined Australian beach culture in the ‘70s.
Moke Motors Australia is using Chery mechanicals to build an all-new Mini Moke, pairing classic utilitarian soft-top styling with modern underpinnings.
The new Moke looks similar to the old one, but somehow not quite as visually pleasing (like so many reinventions of Austin Healeys, MG T-Series and Cobras, and perhaps most forgettable of all, the Korean Jeep Wrangler rip-off, the Rocsta). Some of the details are uncomfortable, such as the heavy-handed treatment of the headlight surrounds, the four high-backed seats, the clunky dashboard and slightly odd profile and windscreen proportions. However, apply a little personalisation and customisation and the new Moke could be a funky little cruiser.
The new Moke is slightly longer and wider than the original which was always a tight fit for four adults unless they were very good friends. Under the bonnet there’s a 50kW/93Nm fuel-injected 993cc four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual or optional automatic from the Chery QQ3 city car.
Front suspension is MacPherson struts with solid-axle trailing arms at the rear. Power steering is standard as are front disc brakes.
More ambitiously, the company also plans an electric version with a top speed of 60km/h and a range of 120km.
With no airbags, ABS or stability control, the Moke bypasses 2014 safety regulations through limited volume compliance – no more than 100 examples will be allowed to be registered each year before more stringent safety standards are applied, and there are plans for airbags to be installed at a later date. We’re not sure any new car should be allowed on Australian roads in 2014 without them, but the loophole remains and small volume manufacturers are sure to take advantage of it.
Moke Mark 2 can be fully registered for use on Australian roads and carries a two year/50,000km driveline warranty and five year corrosion guarantee.
The concept is the brainchild of Jim Markos, a 27-year veteran of the automotive industry and operator of prestige used car dealership Black Rock Motors in Victoria. He claims the arrangement between Moke Motors and Chery is the first time a mainstream car manufacturer has produced vehicles under contract from a private company and is the result of a seven year development program. His plans include selling the Moke in the Caribbean, South Pacific, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Mauritius and he reports interest from Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Turkey too.
Production is set to begin in May with prices starting from $22,990, but the entire 2014 production run has already been presold. Deliveries will begin in June and orders are being taken for 2015. Service agents are yet to be appointed, but discussions are under way to use the local Chery service network.
The new Moke is undoubtedly good fun, but we question the lack of safety equipment. Things were very different in the 1960s and ’70s and no matter how much we’d like to, it simply isn’t possible (or perhaps even wise) to try and turn back the clock.
Moke Motors can be contacted on (03) 9598 0266 or online at www.mokemotors.com.au.