30 June 2020 | Admin
Australian Moke Production
1966 - 1981
1. Design and Production
BMC Australia began assembling the Moke in March 1966 at the Sydney plant in Zetland and initially it was almost identical to the English Moke. It shared the same bodyshell and although neither the body nor the subframes were given additional strengthening, more thorough welding at gusssets, corners and joint areas made the car more robust.
The Moke was classed as a utility vehicle in Australia with no sales tax payable if you were a "primary producer".
In 1974 production was moved to the Pressed Metal Corporation in Enfield after the closure of the Zetland factory. By the mid 1970s, 35 per cent of Moke output was being exported to a total of 82 countries with customers including the Nigerian army, the Hong Kong police and even the Shah of Iran. In 1975 the "Coke Moke" successfully completed the London to Sydney Marathon, finishing 35th overall.
The most common model that was manufactured was the Standard Moke. However an upmarket Californian Model was also produced between 1971 and 1973 (when it was also known as the Export model) and again from 1977. Changes in specification for the Californian usually found their way back into the Standard model.
By 1981 Moke sales were becoming harder and new Australian regulations were also posing problems. The Australian built Mini ceased production in October 1978 and the commercial viability of the Moke came under scrutiny. Total Australian production lasted 16 years with some 26,142 vehicles manufactured between February 1966 and November 1981, although cars continued to be sold well into 1982. Unfortunately production figures for individual models are incomplete as all BMC and Leyland Australia build records were destroyed when Rover Australia relocated to Parramatta
The specification of Australian Mokes changed considerably over the production period. The most noticeable difference from the English Mini Moke was the change to larger 13 inch wheels from 10 inch.
a) Morris Mini Moke
The Moke was initially launched as the Morris Mini Moke. Now known affectionately as "The Little Wheeler", it was practically identical to the English Moke but had a 998cc engine with a lower final drive of 4.133:1. There was also a second engine steady on the left hand side of the engine after several lower engine mounts had broken off whilst the car had been tested off road. It also had raised suspension and a standard fit sumpguard.
b) BMC Mini Moke
Following bad press about the poor ground clearance from Australian farmers, motoring magazines and the armed forces (who were considering adopting the Moke), the Moke adopted 13 inch wheels in 1968. The wheels were the same as those used on the Australian built Austin A30. Along with this it received raised suspension and a wider four inch track at the front giving 8¼ inches of ground clearance. This was an improvement from the five inches quoted for the sumpguard-equipped Australian 10 inch wheeled cars.
c) Mark 2 Moke
The move to bigger wheels was well received by the Australian press and the buying public and in April 1969 the Mark 2 Moke was introduced.
d) Export Moke
In December 1971 an attempt was made to target the American market with the arrival of the Export Moke. The origins of this derivative were from a cancelled order for the Virgin Islands, where cars had to meet US regulations. It offered a 1275cc engine, two speed wipers, a reversing light and a spare wheel cover. Other details included deeper section wheelarch extensions to allow the mounting of repeater sidelights and larger front indicators. It was also the only 1275cc Moke to have drum brakes all round.
An item of particular interest on this Moke was the fuel tank which came from the Austin Healey Sprite / MG Midget and was fitted under the rear floor with a filler cap in the rear panel. The original tank location in the side pontoon remained empty and remained inaccessible without any side panel covers. The only access was through the conventional undertank plate that covered the conventional tank. Another feature was of course the absence of a fuel filler cap on the top of the pannier.
e) Leyland Moke
Although still badged only as "Moke", in April 1972 the Moke became known as the "Leyland Moke" following the name change of BMC to Leyland Australia.
f) Moke Californian
In September 1977 the Californian was relaunched with a 998cc engine, upgraded switchgear, 8 spoke Sunraysia wheels, reversing light and a removable front grille. The rear lamps were now square and accommodated within a recessed section of the rear kick plates. A denim effect seat and hood option also became available. The bumpers were redesigned into "roo bars" but were still mounted through the front panel and much closer to the grille than on later Mokes. The standard Moke remained unchanged with a single bar bumper.
g) 1979 Facelift
By this time Leyland had shrunk to little more than an import organisation with local assembly reduced to Minis, Mokes and Land Rovers. In an attempt to revitalise falling sales, Leyland gave the Moke what was to be its final facelift in November 1979. Galvabond was introduced on the bodyshell along with glass front deflector screens and side screens with zips to replace the previous turn studs. The fuel filler moved to the left side panel and fed a larger 8 gallon tank (filling all three boxes on the left hand side.) On the front was a larger "Moke" badge and at the rear, the word Moke was embossed onto the mud flaps in white.
The first ten inch Mokes were supplied in Empire Green and occasionally in Champion Red. New colours were added which were often very tongue in cheek and included:
Engine wise, Australian Mokes can be fitted with a UK or Australian built 998cc, 1098cc or 1275cc "A" series engine, depending on time of production. The most common is the 998cc and several versions of this were used to satisfy increasingly tough emission control regulations.
Little Wheelers: (1966-1968) 10 inch wheels, English body shape. Canvas seats, 998cc engine.
6. Identification Plate Coding for Australian Mokes
The chassis number prefix will enable precise model identification. There is insufficient space to detail them all here but they fall into 3 general categories: