Wednesday, 22 July 2009
A recent discovery in the Archive, my beloved Mini Moke. Photographed in 1972 at the remote farm we were living in on the Essex / Suffolk border, (telephone exchange Steeple Bumpstead), it was as much fun as it was infuriating. There were no side screens, just the roof, and certainly no heater. There was a fuel gauge, but a more reliable indicator was to get your passenger to unscrew the big cap off the tank, which sat sloshing about next to their left knee. It started life as a track vehicle on Newmarket Racecourse, and was the perfect vehicle to go with Cream LPs and very short skirts. (Mrs. Ashley's I hasten to add. She learnt the rudiments of driving in it, furiously speeding up and down the farm tracks with a big straw hat on.) Alec Issigonis designed it at the same time as its stable mate the Mini saloon, with a steel monocoque body and the 'A' Series engine. They made 15,000 of them at Longbridge from January 1964 to October 1968, and then production moved to BMC's plant in Sydney until early 1982. It was still being made by Italian firm Cagiva in Portugal until 1993. But this was an original, complete with Dunlop Town & Country tyres, rubber clips to hold the bonnet in place, removable seat cushions so you could hose it down, and, the most remarkable thing of all, a current tax disc.