When you've got five of the same car, you'd be inclined to think there's definitely something irreplaceable about that design. When we found out about Dave's obsession with Mokes, bit by bit we realised what it meant to truly love a car as unique as this.
The Moke was designed originally as a light utility vehicle for the military, to be dropped into remote places for troops to jump in and zoom off. Of course forgetting about its tiny wheels, slight lack of power and poor ground clearance, it was soon relegated and made for the UK public between 1964 and 1968. You can pick up a few Australian and Portuguese models too as they produced them until the eighties and nineties.
Dave's back garden is half museum - an array of "street furniture", lamp-posts, signs and old petrol pumps. Sitting in the sun is a freshly painted Moke body ready to be assembled, there are two more in the Garage and another two in storage. One of them is the original and first car registered to the Moke owners club, the other being Dave's choice runabout. There are shelves and shelves of bits, over a dozen 10 inch wheels, an old engine ready to be reconditioned; generally enough parts to keep this special collection of Mokes supplied with parts for years to come.
For Dave the fun of the Moke comes from driving it. It offers something that no other car can; honest simplicity with the same cheeky character you get with the mini, but with something extra. When Dave's wife drove it to work for the first time, the attention on the car was something else. People were interested and wanted to join in with experiencing it. The winning combination of the friendly club nature and the car itself makes it a worthwhile past time, and there's enough to be kept busy with. So many Mokes are labelled wrongly, with wrong parts, wrong dates and incorrect ebay listings. Dave explains how the limited production run of the Moke in the UK makes finding a British one really special and much rarer. Scouring the online and club market place reveals this.
After a few splutters we start one of them up. It's a more fruity engine than you would expect, the A series pumping out rich fumes filling the open garage with a soft haze. The controls are basic, the dim-dip switch is foot operated, a large original steering wheel wobbles with the engine on high choke. You really are quite exposed in the car. If you are a rather self-conscious driver, this probably isn't the car for you. For Dave it's about shoving a picnic in the back, maybe finding a few other Moke friends and just heading out for a day of fun. The seaside is its perfect environment.
The Moke is a car that is very particular in what it offers, and what it does offer, it offers in abundance. There's no shying away from the fact that its a cheeky car, you can't expect people to take you seriously in it, but then when you're having as much fun, nothing else really matters.
Words - Tom Aiton // Photography - Tom Duke