Brigitte Bardot drove around the south of France in a Moke with her dogs in tow. Jackie O made her first post-nuptial appearance with new hubby Aristotle Onassis in the open-air cruiser in Skorpios, Greece. James Bond tooled around with a stable of Bond girls in four 007 movies. Even David Letterman was spotted in St. Barts in the classic car. There’s always been an aura of cool around this buggy, which has graced the world’s best beaches and ritziest destinations.
The Moke was created by Sir Alec Issigonis (who also designed the original Austin Mini) and the British Motor Company in the late 1950s. What began as an invention for the British army quickly transitioned into a civilian car when it was discovered—after the fact—that its ground clearance was too low for military use. Despite this inauspicious beginning, the Moke developed a cult following in Europe, the Caribbean, Australia, and Hawaii, where its bright colors and diminutive size made it perfect for la dolce vita. Even the Beach Boys used the Moke for one of their famous promos, outfitting the car with gold-record rims and a trimmed canopy.
While production of the Moke officially ceased in 1993, the legend lived on—especially in St. Barts, where tourists zipped around the tiny island in the cars for the next decade. The island is also where transportation entrepreneur Todd Rome first spotted the Moke and promptly fell in love with it. In 2016, he sold Blue Star Jets—his private aviation business—and turned his attention to reinventing the Moke. The new and improved version debuted in the spring of 2017 with some major changes. Not only was the car’s silhouette bigger and sturdier than the original, but it was electric-powered, fully customizable, and sold direct-to-consumer via the brand’s website. Each one weighs 2,300 pounds, has 14-inch tires, and comes with a backup camera, seatbelts, and Bluetooth radio.
Classified as a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV), today’s Moke tops out at 25 mph and is street legal in all zones 35 mph or less—making it ideal for local driving and living. With its doorless frame and easy-breezy ambiance, fans are enjoying life in the slow lane. Behind-the-wheel sightings include Kris Jenner, Tommy Lee, Martha Stewart, Katherine McPhee, Jay Leno, Billy Joel, Joe Jonas, Sophie Turner, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Brands, too, covet the Moke; Instagram friendly activations have spanned splashy collabs with 007, Louis Vuitton, Fred Segal Malibu, Hirshleifers, Vilebrequin, Faena Bazaar, and Pura Vida.
With a nod to its past and headlights on the future, the Moke is the ideal heritage brand playfully brought back to life.