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What the Heck Is a Moke? After Finding Two Roaming the Woods, We Now Know

The all-electric, retro-styled Moke is a funky low-speed vehicle.

It doesn't happen too often, but sometimes we're stumped by a vehicle sighting. While piling into our long-term 2019 Ram 1500 after a short Saturday morning hike in the woods, we found a pair of these apparently rented golf-cart-esque rentals gone rogue in the off-road parking area. Since we hadn't ever seen these in the wild, we waited patiently for the occupants to disembark and then snuck in for a closer look at the strange people-movers. Turns out, they're Mokes—which rhymes with "blokes" and are throwbacks to buggy-style spin-offs of early Minis, known as Mini Mokes.


The Mokes intrigued us. Directions pasted on the dashboards instructed how to start, stop, and park them. Mention of the "charge level gauge" indicated the Mokes were electric. There was a head unit (with a USB charge port), headlights, taillights, turn signals, a parking brake, a rearview mirror, side mirrors, seatbelts, mudflaps, a spare tire, and windshield wipers.

As for other creature comforts—there were none. The utilitarian seats looked like something you'd find on a water ride at an amusement park. One Moke was open-top, while the other had a simple canopy setup similar to Jeep Wranglers' bikini tops. The four-lug Moke wheels and tiny 175/60R14 Jinyu tires matched the compactness of the Moke's stature (89-inch wheelbase, 131-inch length, and 65-inch height, as we later discovered). That is about 3 feet shorter than a two-door Jeep Wrangler JL, with a shorter wheelbase by about 8 inches.


We later found that the pair of Mokes had been rented for $50 an hour from Moke Experience, located in the quaint city adjacent to the woodsy area in which we had spotted them. They were probably meant to stay there on the paved city streets. With a full-charge driving range of 40 miles, we're not sure if they had enough range to make it back to the city, and we're also not sure how they survived on backcountry roads (or the freeway) at their 25-mph top speeds. So many questions.

The Moke is manufactured by Cruise Car, Inc. It is fully electric and can completely charge via a 110-outlet in eight hours. The GVWR is 2,800 pounds; the vehicle itself weighs about 2,300 pounds. It apparently conforms to all applicable U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, but likely those applying to low-volume or low-speed neighborhood vehicles. It has a VIN and front and rear California license plates, and, yes, it is classified as a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV), which is a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has a top speed of more than 20 mph but not more than 25 mph on paved surfaces. Basically, the Moke is a street-legal golf cart with a retro vehicle-like exterior.

We learned there is a little bit of history behind the original Moke that inspired this modern interpretation. It was created as an engine-powered, combat-ready military vehicle for the British army in the late 1950s by the British Motor Company and Alec Issigonis, who was the father of the original Austin Mini. While its military days didn't last long, the Mini Moke sold to the public became a symbol of laid-back fun-in-the-sun island life and was a hit among celebrities and musicians like the Beach Boys. It's described as a British classic and a Caribbean icon. Components—including the glass, seatbelts, tires, and batteries—of the longer and wider modern re-engineered electric Moke are made in America, too.

While on the Moke America website, we succumbed to building our own virtual example. We optioned the base $18,475 price tag up to up $22,755, while picking the most ostentatious body, bumper, grille, rollbar, and Bikini top colors as possible. In 90 days, we theoretically could have our own custom-built bespoke Moke, had we bought one straight off the website. We also found a local Moke America dealer, which could hypothetically help us configure a special-order cargo bed, stake bed, reading truck, or van box Moke.


So, there you have it. You may not have asked for it, but now you know about the revived Moke. Since we're not sure we're mature enough to behave behind the wheel of a transporter like the Moke, let's just put it this way—given the chance, we'd be sure to make the most of our Moke rental adventure.