The convertible may be very nice. But when the weather is really good, there is really only one suitable Mini: the Moke. Nowhere do they know that better than in Miami. The classic is such a cult there that a luxury dealer is now even planning to bring it back as a new car.
Rolls-Royce Wraith, Bentley Continental Cabrio, Lamborghini Hurracan – if you want to attract attention on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, you have to drive the big ones. Or you can rent a car that is almost impossible to rent anywhere else in the world: the Mini Moke. Because at least for the bikini version of the little Brit, time seems to have stood still here on the Florida coast. While the fresh air runabout, which was launched in the 1960s as an alternative to the VW-based buggy, the Citroen Mehari or the convertible version of the Renault R4, was once a regular in the beach metropolises of this world, it is in Saint Tropez, on Sylt, in Sydney or in the Caribbean become a rarity.
But moke is still in vogue on the beach island off Miami. Painted in candy colors, it stands next to luxury limousines and super sports cars as a beach shuttle in front of the design hotels and where other rental companies focus on muscle cars like the Mustang, there are several Moke rental companies in Miami where you can go island hopping for a handful of dollars can borrow.
It was developed parallel to the Mini as a light and inexpensive vehicle for the British Army. However, the car has less established itself with the military than with the millionaires, who liked to park it as a third car at the beach house. The first 15,000 copies were built in Birmingham from 1964 to 1968, after which production was relocated to Australia and then to Portugal, where the last Moke rolled off the production line in 1993.
Mini Moke and Eternal Life
But new companies have regularly bought the rights to the brand and model and tried to continue the story. The only thing the rental cars have in common with the original from the 1960s is their shape – and of course the fun factor. Because it doesn’t really matter which motor drives the Moke, which year of manufacture is in the vehicle registration and where in the world the car was installed: It only takes a few meters for the corners of the mouth to go up and the heart to go out from under the Hawaiian shirt Joy begins to bounce.
This is of course mainly due to its airy style, which no conventional convertible can compete with. Because where other cars have a solid body and a folding roof, the Mini Moke literally drops all covers: only the windshield, which is almost huge for a Mini, and a thin tarpaulin protects against wind and weather. The body is limited to the floor pan, fenders and a side sill that barely reaches the calves. If the house tent is dismantled over the seats inspired by garden armchairs, you can enjoy more space than you ever had in another Mini. Nowhere does your shoulder scrape against the windshield, not even a knee bumped in the rear, and the headroom is finally infinite.
Most of the Moke from Miami come from a company that actually specializes in selling golf carts and has the retro models made for rental companies in China. Although they have a politically correct electric drive, they hardly drive faster than most golf carts and therefore tend to lurch along the beach promenade without having fun. Because more than 25 miles per hour or about 40 km / h is not technically possible and legally not allowed. In the stop-and-go traffic on Ocean Drive, that’s no harm, but the bridge over to Key Biscayne quickly becomes a test of patience – especially when there is a brief uphill climb in the middle and the electric motor is its love Has trouble with the Moke.
Bugatti, Porsche and … Moke!
That bothers not only many tourists, but also Henry Herazo. As managing director at Curated Motors, he is used to slightly faster cars. There are priceless horsepower and maddening rarities in his showroom like the Jaguar XJ220, the Bugatti EB110, the Mercedes SLR, the Porsche 918 or the Lamborghini Diablo. But for some time now, two Mokes have been parked in front of the door and he has a second business card in his wallet that identifies him as the head of Moke USA and stamps him as the car manufacturer. Or at least to a real importer.
Because Herazo wants to bring Moke back to America. And not as a lame rental car for bored tourists, but as an airy toy for high earners. For this he has teamed up with Moke International, who brought the Moke back from China a few years ago and are now assembling it in France with significantly better quality. The plant builds up to 4,000 cars a year and Herazo can bring almost a tenth of them to the USA without worrying about registration regulations. “This means we are considered a small-series manufacturer and have a lot more freedom,” says Herazo, who learned the car business at Toyota USA.
Genuine fun stud returns.
The French still have the Mini with a Chinese three-cylinder petrol engine, which is significantly more fun than the rental car from Miami Beach. Because instead of a hum you hear an angry growl, the tires screech during kickdown and with just 50 hp you are so fast on the road that you feel like you’re in a bumper car and when cornering you are grateful for the belts that you now screw onto your seats to have. And even on the incline on the bridge over to Key Biscayne, the Moke doesn’t run out of breath – after all, the top speed is 110 km / h.
But Herazo knows about the trend towards sustainability and the sensitivity of the fair weather oasis and therefore wants to offer the Moke exclusively electric. However, with a drive that fits the fun factor of the fresh air speedster. It promises a top speed of almost 140 km / h and a range of around 200 kilometers with a new lithium-ion battery. While the golf karts with Moke bodies are already available for less than $ 20,000, the price of Moke USA will rise with the seriousness: The revived icon will cost $ 50,000 when it goes on sale at the end of the year, Herazo says in prospect.
Sold out for a year
Where the trade is such a thing. Because he is only allowed to sell 325 cars per year, the Moke will only be available in the Hamptons, Florida, California and around Phoenix – and all cars have been sold for at least a year, Herazo admits with one laughing and one weeping Eye one.