It’s a well-known fact that the Mini Moke has a reputation as the most iconic beach vehicle around the world. Originally developed for the British military and later popularized by Australian surfers in the 1970s, they can be seen on Caribbean Islands and beach hotspots around the world. While I’ve seen a few classic Mokes around the moneyed beach enclave of the Hamptons, the sale of new gas-powered Mokes is not approved in the United States. Enter Moke America, a company dedicated to selling the Mini Moke to American shores. They have designed and manufactured an electric version of the beach runabout for sale in the United States.
I met with Todd Rome, C.E.O. of Moke America, for coffee and a drive in their electric Moke. Until this point, I had never driven an electric car — not even a hybrid! While this would be abhorrent for many auto journalists, my focus on vintage cars is my excuse for being behind the times, and for just now driving electric for the first time. I sipped on a coffee while Rome gave me the background on Moke America and his mission to make the best Moke.
Each Moke is made-to-order in Sarasota, Florida. They cost around $16,000, and they come in eight solid colors or a limited-edition camouflage, which I drove. They are minimally equipped with hard plastic seats, cupholders and an optional Bluetooth radio. The Moke is powered by a 7.5-kw motor, has a range of 40 miles, takes eight hours to charge and has a top speed of 25 miles per hour. While those specs are not astounding or particularly quick, when packed into a Moke in the Hamptons, the combination is a fun — and daresay practical — beach car and town runabout.
Operation of the Moke is incredibly simple. A traditional key switches on the dead-silent Moke, and after a cartoonishly oversized red knob is pressed, the delightfully simple Moke is ready to drive. Weighing in at 2,400 pounds, it has the heft of a small car, yet drives like a glorified go-kart. While a top speed of 25 mph is fairly limiting, the Moke has a practical use for short drives to town or the beach, both situations where the speed limit seldom exceeds 30 mph. Moke America is currently working on obtaining a new classification with a top speed of 35 mph.
While the Moke America is new to the market, I have seen quite a few driving around the Hamptons. They’re stylish, inexpensive and — most importantly — emission-free. The electric motor paired with the timeless styling of the Moke is a nice combination. In addition, maintenance is generally trouble-free compared to a vintage, gas-powered counterpart. Moke America is at the head of a new trend of electrifying vintage cars, something I’d like to see more of in the future.