Auction Time: Choice #3

If I were a Rich Phartte and thus able to visit this auction, I would already have purchased a beach house (because New Wife loves the sea more than I do), probably somewhere in Maine.  Accordingly, said beach house would have to have a car in residence, to be disconnected and left there during the winter.  It wouldn’t have to be much, its duties pretty much relegated to trips to the supermarket, into town or for short sight-seeing trips along the coast and so on.  Which makes my third choice simple:  the 1966 Austin Mini Moke.

Longtime Friend Knal N. Domp (from the old website) had one of these, and many’s the night we were to be found driving it around Johannesburg at breakneck speed during the late 1960s and early 70s.

And as for simplicity, try this:

Just so you know how badly I want one of these, it was nearly my #1 choice.

There are a couple of competitors — the Renault Jolly comes to mind:

…but I’d only get that one if the beach house was in the south of France.


  1. I had a green one of them in 1971, with a fibreglass full cabin hardtop and bucket seats, the hardtop cabin made it hard to get in and out, even harder if you were wearing a miniskirt, (not me), though I held the door and listened to much complaining. Once you were in you could chuck that all over the place, I know it was only an 850cc but the almost non-existent body somehow gave it extra oomph. I ran it without water, I ran it without oil, I tried to run it without petrol but that didn’t work so good. You could start it in 1st gear (on the flat) and away it would it would go. I sold it for the stupid reason that the bucket seats (non standard) were killing my back and I kept on tearing trousers crutches, now those are stupid reasons, it seemed to be far superior to a standard mini (though the mini pickup wasn’t that far behind, nor the minivan) and they were all a piece of cake to work on, I once changed a wheel using a milk crate because I didn’t have a jack to hand! If you could still buy them, one would be sat outside my door right now!

    1. Door? Hard roof? I know not whereof you speak…

      Next thing you’ll be telling me it had seatbelts.

  2. Wow, didn’t see that coming.
    Summer in Maine would be just the place to have such a vehicle. Plus it brings back memories, so why not?

      1. My ex Father-in-Law had one. I used to drive it ’round Martha’s Vineyard. He wound up giving it to ex Brother-in-Law. And yes, it was a slug.

    1. Getting one of those for me would be dangerous (to my time and money budgets), what with the repainting it in Feldgrau, setting up the mounted MG-42….

      (yeah, I know it’s not a real Kublewagen, so what?)

      1. One of the motor magazines forty years ago did an article on a Thing that was painted in tan and dark green and brown, with a couple of rifle racks, I think a winch, and a roll bar. It looked kind of like a Kuebelwagen if you didn’t have a picture to compare and squinted a bit.
        Having grown up, I would forgo most of the mall ninja crap and go for a Porsche 912 or a 911 engine (if it fit).

  3. Alas, but the stripped down basic automobile is no more. Which is a shame. Nowadays even the lowest priced car has power windows, AC and the like as standard equipment. The only reason for which I can see is profit margin.
    Auto manufacturers have gone from a vehicle with just enough to be functional to which one could add to as desired. To a set of expensive “standard equipment” one is forced to pay for as there is no other choice (crank windows? never part of the design.) Vastly cheaper to make a door if the only thing that changes is the color. Streamline production with costlier parts and hide the expense with marketing hype (No cost optional equipment!).

    1. A coworker back in the early eighties was a motorhead. He said once that the “boy racers discovered that power windows on the Corvettes were lighter than manual crank windows, so all their cars sprouted power windows.”
      So much of marketing is to sell someone on more of whatever than they need, so in addition to aero-kits and shopping cart rear spoilers and racing stripes, we got electric windows.

  4. Can’t see the Mini Moke without thinking of the coolest TV series ever, The Prisoner. Can’t think of The Prisoner and not think of the Lotus 7. Which, according to some tifosi of the series, was the reason there was no No. 7 on “the island.”

  5. A friend had a Lotus 7, I got in it once, it took four guys half-an-hour to get me out out, I was tall but skinny then. I never actually drove it but Robert, (the poor wretched owner) reported that a front bumper would fall off after 20 minutes on the road, despite his best efforts of securing them, (it vibrated quite a bit), they were so light that 3 men could pick one up with ease, absolutely lethal in the wet. Which I could also say for my Morgan +8 with the ultra lightweight aluminium body and the double brake servo!

      1. Sliding sideways the length of Southampton Row in London on the cobblestones at 40mph in heavy traffic gave me a hint of the true meaning of fear…….

  6. I kind of remember these from photos years ago and it would not be a choice of mine at my current age however, after going on line and reading about these little buggy things were I 50 years younger I would have enjoyed the hell out one. Thank you for furthering my education about silly, dumb shit, stuff that I did not need to know but now I know so thank you once again.

  7. Worked a Summer in the mid-60’s selling cars at a BMC/Lotus Dealership in SoCal.
    When we had to go down to the Distributor about 30 miles away across L.A., we took The Moke if we had to pick up a car or two. You get a real appreciation for negotiating L.A.’s freeways in a Moke in the pre-seatbelt era when you’re looking at the hubcaps of cars, let alone the side of an 18-wheeler.

  8. If I won the lottery and bought my tropical island retreat, the compound would feature of fleet of these (or I would start a company to begin producing fleets of them, warranted against manufacturing defects but not dumbassery) on an Indian pony system. (Legally I guess I would require everyone buying one to take a ridiculously ponderous training course, and then sign a waiver that they have been trained how to safely drive them.)

    The reality is, I’m just recreating Portemerion from The Prisoner. I might even have a Green Dome built on the island.

  9. Our family farm needed a vehicle that could get through mud in Winter and dust in Summer.
    We had a mini Moke with a metal cabin over the 2 seats. It was jolly good. I was given the OK by Dad to take it to various end-of-school parties, and the beach. My older brother accused me of living like a play-boy!
    When the Moke wore out we changed to a Suzuki Stockman (LJ80, I think). 2 seat cabin and traytop, with 4WD. That would go nearly anywhere.
    Now my son wants me to trade my Mazda ute for something new. The ute has manual windows, and importantly a stick to shift into 4WD rather than the current fad of an electric switch. And it does not have a particulate burner. Who wants that thing turning on when you are in a paddock of long dry grass. Why should we be lumped with all the gimmicks?

  10. Why not a classic VW based dune buggy? There are a couple Listed on eBay that you could get for about ten grand.

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