An extremely rare Mini Moke used in the filming of the cult 1960s TV series, The Prisoner, is set to go under the hammer next month – and it’s predicted that a winning bid will need to be in the region of £60,000 for a collector to acquire it.
Registration ‘HLT 709C’ is one of just two surviving Mokes driven by Patrick McGoohan in the quirky classic show.
Silverstone Auctions, which is offering the unique vehicle at the NEC Classic Motor Show Sale on 13 November, says it is ‘undoubtedly the most famous Mini Moke in the World’.
The auction house has placed an estimate of £50,000 to £60,000 on the motor, which is around double what an original is worth today – and more than twice the price of the reborn examples set to be built in Britain.
A rare Mini Moke that featured in cult sixties TV series The Prisoner is to be auctioned next month in the UK
The Mini Moke first hit the market in the 1960s as a recreational vehicle after failed attempts to market it to the British army as a lightweight military vehicle – though this is the most famed example of all.
Four Mini Mokes were converted by Wood & Pickett in the summer of 1966 for the British avant-garde social science fiction television series.
They were all transported to Portmeirion, Wales, in September that year ready for filming for the series created by Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein, with McGoohan playing the lead role of Number Six.
What makes this particular example standout is that its standard 850cc engine was replaced with a 998cc Cooper-spec powerplant in preparation for its appearance on screen.
It’s also the one that is, ‘beyond any doubt’, most extensively used on screen, according to Silverstone Auctions.
Experts say this is the case because the ‘HLT 709C’ number plate was mistakenly revealed in the series.
Silverstone Auctions, which is offering the unique vehicle at the NEC Classic Motor Show Sale on 13 November, says it is ‘undoubtedly the most famous Mini Moke in the World’
The Moke is one of four commissioned for the TV series. Only two examples survive today
The Prisoner, is a British psychological, spy, science fiction TV series about an unidentified British intelligence agent who is abducted and imprisoned in a mysterious coastal village, where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned. It was created by Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein with McGoohan playing the main role of Number Six. It was produced by Everyman Films for ITC, between 1966 and 1967
The auction house has placed an estimate of £50,000 to £60,000 on the motor, which is around double what an original is worth today – and more than twice the price of the reborn examples set to be built in Britain
After filming concluded in 1967, the fleet of four Mokes was disbanded, with only two believed to have escaped being crushed in the 54 years that have passed since.
This car was also previously thought to have been lost to the big scraphead in the sky until 2011, when it turned up in a barn in Holland and was shipped to the UK prior to being purchased, in a very sorry state, by the vendor, Phil Caunt, in 2015 who set about reconditioning it.
Caunt documents some of the restoration, stating: ‘The chassis was substantially rotten when discovered in 2011.
‘During my restoration as much of the original shell as possible, including the bulkhead, was built into the replacement panels that make up the bodyshell ,as well as the front bulkhead, the windscreen frame, bonnet, cross-member, two seats, dash and other parts were repaired and used.’
What makes this particular example standout is that its standard 850cc engine was replaced by a 998cc Cooper-spec Mini motor in preparation for its appearance on screen
It’s also the one that is, ‘beyond any doubt’, most extensively used on screen, according to Silverstone Auctions. Experts say this is the case because the ‘HLT 709C’ number plate was mistakenly revealed in the series
After filming concluded in 1967, the fleet of four Mokes was dissipated, with only two believed to have escaped being crushed in the 54 years that have passed since
While the roof frame is original, the distinctive striped canvas top and seat covers are not, although have been reproduced to match the genuine parts.
Incredibly, the original ‘Penny Farthing’ motif, although aged, remains on the bonnet to this day.
Fittingly, the Moke’s first post-restoration journey was to return to Portmeirion where filming of The Prisoner had taken place.
‘When I took the car back to The Village and drove it past those famous buildings, I really got the sense that it had come home,’ the vendor told the selling auction house.
The car has also gone on to appear in a number of magazines since, including a cover special and feature in ‘MiniWorld’ in its September 2018 issue.
The car was previously thought to have been lost until 2011 when it turned up in a barn in Holland and was shipped to the UK prior to being purchased, in a very sorry state
The Mini Moke first hit the market in the 1960s as a recreational vehicle after failed attempts to market it to the British army as a lightweight military vehicle – though this is the most famed example of all thanks to it appearing in The Prison, filmed in Portmeirion, Wales (pictured)
Having been shipped to the UK after being discovered in a barn in Holland, the vendor, Phil Caunt, set about reconditioning it
The Prisoner was a 17-episode British TV series first broadcast in the UK on 29 September 1967.
The series follows a British former secret agent – played by McGoohan – who is abducted and imprisoned in a mysterious coastal village resort, where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job.
Although the show was sold as a thriller, its combination of 1960s countercultural themes and surrealistic setting had a far-reaching influence on science fiction and fantasy TV programming, and on narrative popular culture in general.
Caunt said the chassis was substantially rotten when it was discovered in 2011
When the car was uncovered a decade ago, it did have some vestiges of the Wood & Pickett ‘wood’ trim remaining but ‘it resembled lino’, according to Caunt. It has been fully restored
The engine didn’t run when the car was rediscovered after going missing for years. It has been extensively rebuilt and in sublime working order
While the roof frame is original, the distinctive striped canvas top and seat covers are not, though have been reproduced to match the genuine parts
‘There have been a number of replica ‘Prisoner’ Mokes built in recent years but ‘HLT’ is the real thing,’ says Silverstone Auctions.
‘Fastidiously but sympathetically restored by Phil Caunt, it presents well and is enormously appealing always gathering a crowd wherever it goes.
‘Should, one day, the Moke be parked next to James Bond’s DB5 at a future ‘Cars of the Stars’ event, you can bet that it’s the Moke that would draw the most attention, so its new owner can look forward to being invited to shows and events everywhere for many years to come,’ the auction house adds.
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The car comes with a choice of a 4-speed automatic or manual gearbox. The interior is extremely basic, down to the bare seats and the simple dashboard
Classic car valuations experts, Hagerty, say a ‘concours’ condition (meaning it’s good enough to be displayed in a museum car collection) original Mini Moke is today worth £27,500.
If it reaches its higher estimate target of £60,000, the fact it’s an original ‘The Prisoner’ car will effectively double its value.
Moke International, the British company that now owns the Moke trademark and is the sole global supplier of the cars, is producing a limited run of upgraded versions in Britain, priced at £20,000 before taxes and delivery costs.
At £24,000 including VAT, only 56 are being built to mark the 56 years since the doorless and roofless stripped-down Mini first went on sale.
Hagerty says an original Moke in ‘concours’ condition today is worth up to £27,500 – that’s less than half the higher estimate placed on The Prisoner version being offered at auction next month
The Moke received plenty of celebrity attention and love when it was offered to the public from 1964. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is seen here grinning just moments after he reportedly rammed the doorless vehicle into a car driven by Associated Press photographers in Montserrat. McCartney’s wife Linda and three children are seen in the car
The Mini Moke was originally created for the UK military, designed as a cheap and effective way to transport the soldiers. However, the prototype was rejected by the army due to its small wheels and low ground clearance restricting its use off-road
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The Mini Moke — an antique that, in its day, never really worked as intended, sold only in modest numbers and has been out of production for nearly half a century — is to be revived. What does this resurrection tell us?
‘Icon’ is an abused term, but not in this case: few artefacts better express the values of their age. However, be warned that sequinned loons and Cuban heels may not be far behind.
The Moke was intended as a cheap utility vehicle for the Army.
Converted for McGoohan into a playful, beach-car specification by Wood & Pickett (who also made de luxe Minis for the boulevardiers of the King’s Road in London), no car better captures the strange mixture of anxiety and delight, frivolity and danger and of counter-cultural glamour that were the Sixties.
And there can be no more profound affirmation of the Moke’s iconic status than in the fact that, a year after McGoohan’s TV imprisonment, a Dinky Toy model went on-sale.
But in 2021, it is not only the Moke that is a messenger from the motoring past. Today, there are people who will sell you a ‘new’ (in fact, re-manufactured) Jaguar E-Type, another emissary of the 1960s.
Iconic: the Mini Moke is set to be resurrected with power steering, a heated windscreen and waterproof seats. Pictured: the original Mini Moke known for its lack of doors and windows
In the fake news era, it’s significant that what car collectors call the ‘restomod’ movement (which sees classic vehicles upgraded with modern running gear) makes strenuous efforts to achieve authenticity — even if that authenticity involves degrees of fantasy and invention, which improve greatly on the original.
The new Moke, costing some £24,000, manufactured in Nuneaton and assembled at Cerizay in the Deux-Sevres commune of South-West France, arrives with innovations including power-steering, waterproof seats and a heated windscreen. An electric version will soon be available.
But the original, which went on sale in January 1964, was a derivative of the 1959 Mini.
A great part of the Mini’s extraordinary appeal is based in one unique aspect: for reasons of economy, the welded seams and hinges on its body are left exposed, creating a sort of unconscious utilitarian chic.
The unique interior door-bins proved useful for storage, but were there because, as an economy, the Mini did not have wind-up windows.
The same extreme functional logic was applied to the Moke. Like the 1948 Land-Rover, it is, artistically speaking, an exercise in pure geometry.
Katie Moss drives round with Sadie Frost in a yellow Mini Moke while in France in August 2019
Nothing is done to excess. Everything is there — or not there — for a reason. Indeed, the Moke lacks not only wind-up windows, but doors themselves. If you wanted a description of laid-back simplicity, look no further.
Ironically, when the Moke’s creator John Sheppard met the Mini’s designer, Alec Issigonis, at The British Motor Corporation in 1955, their first plan had been to build a competitor to the Citroen DS, the ultra-sophisticated and wantonly luxurious ‘Goddess’ of France. But instead of a motorised divinity, they produced a car-horse hybrid.
‘Moke’ is 19th-century slang for donkey: a true workhorse. In France in 1966, Citroen introduced a similar concept: the plastic Mehari is based on the agricultural deux chevaux. (A ‘mehari’ is a fast dromedary camel.)
There is something in the name that appeals to the populism of the 1960s, and perhaps to us as well. It’s what the French call nostalgie de la boue, or a love of the mud. Not literally mud, but a sort of slumming it. In Italy, the contemporary Fiat Jolly — no doors, candy-striped Surrey Top, wicker seats — explored similar territory.
But, being Italian, the car was aimed more at fashion than function. While Mokes and Meharis were in workmanlike hues such as Gordon’s Gin green and Sahara dust, Fiat Jollys came more often in the pastel colours of luxury gelato.
Additionally, some consumers — even in anti-war eras — enjoy the iconography of the military.
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At about the time McGoohan was puttering around Portmeirion in his Moke, author Tom Wolfe was explaining that, in Manhattan, if you found a young man in a military surplus parka and a paratrooper’s forage cap, he would almost certainly be a Harvard graduate, not a hobo.
In California, as soon as he was able, Arnold Schwarzenegger acquired an AM General HumVee for use on the road. The Moke makes the same appeal to rugged functionalism: its front bumper is a simple tubular bar.
As if to confirm the ineffable allure of this most basic machine, Diana Rigg also drove a Moke in The Avengers. In 1973, Roger Moore used one in Live And Let Die. Britain’s greatest graphic designer, Alan Fletcher, drove a white Moke everywhere.
To bring us fragrantly up-to-date, Gwyneth Paltrow drives a Goop-branded — and possibly scented — Moke around Los Angeles. In Saint-Tropez, there is even ‘Le Garage Mini Moke’, and the bon chic bon genre Hotel Sezz rents them to its painfully cool guests. Original Mokes remain popular in Caribbean beach resorts.
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For me, it is a tributary of the same roaring flood of consumer irrationality that gave us the present fashion for the SUV.
There is something about the chunky proportions of the SUV that gives the cars an engaging ludic quality: they look like toys! In our anxious age, we crave innocent playthings.
even more so if you are as tiny as the Moke, a miniature SUV. Its very size and fuss-free simplicity exert enormous appeal.
But unlike an SUV, a Moke has only limited possibilities. The Army rejected it as more or less useless, and its sole occupation with the Forces was running around the decks of aircraft carriers.
Very little is functional about the Moke, but that is why we like it. What we have is not so much a car, but a testament of faith.
As mainstream cars become more meaninglessly sophisticated, more debatably electric and more hobbled by the emotional guilt of the user and the vengeful legislation of the authorities, the playfulness of the Moke becomes very attractive.
Especially at a mandated 20mph, dreaming of a simpler past and Diana Rigg in her leather trousers.
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