There is no feeling quite as liberating as the warmth of the sun on your face and the ocean breeze in your hair as you make your way down to the beach in one of the world’s sunniest destinations. And, no mode of transport is so synonymous with this sense of freedom than MOKE, which gained cult status in the 1970s and 80s as the vehicle of choice for style icons including Paul McCartney and Bridget Bardot to drive around the French Riviera.
Indeed, from the Côte d’Azur, California and Australia to the Mediterranean coastline and Caribbean islands, driving a MOKE became a counterculture to the fast and furious celebrity lifestyle, due to the feeling of freedom it evokes. The brand even featured on the big screen in four James Bond movies (You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker), establishing Moke as a household name.
Its origins are a far cry from the glamour of cinema, though. Initially designed in the early 1960s by Sir Alec Issigonis, the father of the Austin Mini, the first iteration of the MOKE was produced by the British Motor Corporation as a lightweight, parashoot-droppable air utility vehicle suitable for the British Army. Code-named “Buckboard”, it was modified in 1962 and named Mini MOKE – an archaic dialect term for donkey – but was never adopted by military officials, so a civilian version was released in January 1964.
Following its surge of popularity in the 70’s and 80’s when the early MOKE Californian and subsequent BMC Portuguese models would often be spotted being driven by the international jetset, fast forward to 2018, when MOKE’s international production in Europe recommenced. With all design and manufacture done exclusively in the UK, the updated MOKE remained faithful to its signature look, but incorporated a new 4-cylinder, fuel injection engine and uprated suspension and braking, with the option for automatic or manual transmission.
And it didn’t stop there. As each MOKE is designed to be driven in the most beautiful locations on the planet, alongside crystal-clear waters and golden beaches, the first highway-legal Electric MOKE was launched last year in 2022, to limit MOKE’s impact on the environment and protect oceans and beaches from global warming – a cause close to the brand’s heart.
MOKE continues to support its global charity partner, the Blue Marine Foundation, on conservation of the world’s ocean and marine life. Last year, two bespoke Blue Marine editions of the Electric MOKE, created by leading design studio Steve Edge Design, were auctioned at the Monaco Yacht Show last September for an impressive €250K each. This year a new limited edition range of 30 ‘Blue Marine’ MOKES are set to be made, with a portion of profits of every car sold going to the charity..
The Electric MOKE has now launched globally, and from St Barth to St Tropez, it’s fast becoming the must-have luxury beach accessory once again. Taking just four hours to charge fully, it has a top speed of 50mph / 80kmph and an EV range of up to 80 miles / 120 km. If you happen to be in St Tropez this summer, the newly-opened Casa MOKE flagship store at 33 Rte des Plages is a perfect place to experience the Electric MOKE first hand.
If you’re in the USA, the Electric Californian edition has been released this year as a nod back to the original 1977 ‘Mini MOKE Californian’, available in a choice of five iconic colours – Granite Grey, Sunlight Yellow, Sunset Orange, Scuba Blue and Wave Blue. With enough range to cruise Route 101 down to Malibu Beach from Santa Barbara, it’s ideal for those who have time to take it slow and enjoy life’s journey, while caring about the planet.
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