A special order of Mokes were destined for the US Virgin Islands in 1970 however due to death of lady in a UK built Moke and subsequent court case around the same time the order was cancelled, however the wheels of production were already turning and the Mokes were built with their unique features and mostly released to the local market. With renewed interest I have been working with BLMC Historian Tony Cripps to try and uncover as much of the real history of this limited run of special Mokes.
While Tony and his fellow historian Peter Davis, who held senior roles with BMC/BLMC during the production of these vehicles have access to various documentation, drawings and other ex-employees which I expect they will expand on in their books that they publish, I have been contributing to understanding the story so far from my knowledge of Mokes and the Mokes as part of the Australian Moke Register. As you will read there is more than one instance of where what the factory intended or expected to happen doesn't seemed to be reflected by what appears to have actually been produced.
The general history of what is commonly called the Export Moke appears to have began in 1969 as early drawings dated Jan 1970 of the Nomad, the original name of the special order Moke, leads up to the official internal announcement in April 1970 that an order of 300 Left Hand Drive Mokes destined for the US Virgin Islands had been placed. A small number of the original, I call them early prototypes or samples Mokes retained the left side fuel tank and an early black and white photo shows two such vehicles that early documentation expects them to be fitted with the 1098 engine, however two examples of these Mokes known to exist came with 1275 engines, at least one prefixed with 12YGUH.
Around the time of the announcement a lady driver was killed when her UK built Austin Moke caught fire after a left side impact crash in the US Virgin Islands. A couple of Australian employees were sent to attend the ensuing court case that ultimately saw the cancellation of the order for 300 Mokes. Somewhere along the time line in what we assume to be an attempt to salvage the deal there were design changes made to relocate in thefuel tank in the rear which is ubiquitous with what we now know as the Export Moke, however the changes were not enough to keep the deal alive. With the orders for the parts already with the UK parent company the Mokes were eventually built to use up the partsordered and produced mostly as right hand drive and released onto the Australian Market from late 1971 through to July 1973.
Initial drawings suggest it was given the designation of 2/YDO18 however as more changes from the standard Moke of the time were made it gained its own drawing office designation of YDO30 while the prefixes on the vehicles are listed as YJBAB10, YJBAB11, YJBAB12, YJBAB13, YJBAB14 and O30COB. The name Californian came about from the Sales Director at the time thought that the “beach culture” of California might translate to Australia so hence the name and the change of focus to visual effects like the special print hoods to be attractive to the local market.
When it comes to the term Export Moke there are odd references in the documentation to the word Export, but I haven't noticed a strong designation of the term Export for these vehicle as standard Mokes were already being exported at the time while I think the common reference to these as Export Mokes seems to have come about later, possibly to avoid confusion when the marketing department reintroduced the name Californian in 1977 as part of an updated look.
The time line of when things occurred is still fairly fluid as there is really only the date of the announcement of the order in April 1970 and the dates appearing on the Australian Design Rule(ADR) plates, the engineering drawings, the many snippets of information being uncovered that need more work to provide a plausibly time line of events to give a more definitive order of when things happened. And that has been part of the fun and frustration of researching this particular Moke with numerous emails going back and forth as more information is added to the mix and we try to make sense of where it fits in.
How many of these Export Mokes were built there are two figures that I think are credible, either 300 or 1,000 as being built, howeve for as long as I have been involved with Mokes there have been the usually uninformed numbers thrwon around that just get passed around but tehy don't really stack up.
The 300 number comes from Peter Davis who in his role as Production Manager at the time recalls only placing an order for 300 sets of the special parts needed with the UK and with only 60 Export Mokes on the Australian Moke Register that seems like a reasonable number to assume is correct. The 1,000 figure comes from the range of serial numbers we find on the Australian Moke Register(AMR), with the lowest number being #506, supporting a starting figure of #501, and the highest number being #1498 on July 1973 O30COB1M12 Moke. The competing arguments for each figure is where did the parts for another 700 Mokes come from or what happened to the other 700 serial numbers allocated in this range of vehicles. I don't believe we have enough data to put one number to rest or the other at this stage. There are bits of information coming out that could lend support to there being multiple sequences of serial numbers starting at #501 but we need to find details on more Export Mokes to get a better picture.
The Mokes listed in the AMR records and our collection of images show that these Mokes were mostly configured with the 1275 engine prefixed with the later 1204 and had rear mounted fuel tanks. Although more are known to have existed, the one Moke I have seen fitted with the earlier 12YGUH 1275 retained the left side top fill fuel tank.So when I break down the Mokes listed in the AMR this is actually what is known to have been produced.
YJBAB10L - A single plate exists but no Moke(s) found to exists so far.
YJBAB11L - At least one exists in the Netherlands according to their online motor vehicle registration website, no other details available regarding engine or tank location. Thanks Brad McDonald. A second 11L has been found in the UK.
YJBAB12R - Plated November and December 1971 with 1204 engine rear tank. No 12L's, LHD, are known to exist at this stage.
YJBAB13R - Plated 1972 only with the 1204 prefixed engine and a rear fuel tank. One exists in the Czech Republic with a 13L plate, LHD suggesting that least one was destined for export when built.
O303COB1M12 - So far only found as RHD in Australia, ADR plated between January and July 1973 with 1204 engine and rear fuel tank.
YJBAB14R - Plated November 1970 with serial numbers that puts them in to the serial number sequence for early 1972 and used the 12YGUH engine. Only one is known to still exist, with a left side top fill fuel tanks and evidence of being converted from LHD to RHD at the factory.
Alternatively to display this according to the date on the ADR plate.
November 1970 - YJBAB14R
December 1971 - YJBAB12R
Jan - Nov 1972 - YJBAB13R or L
Jan - Jul 1973 - O30COB1M12
Sometimes the researching turns up things that can only be described as anomalies and while I am aware of them I try not to include them in the forming of my view of what has happened.
YJBAB12R/13R - Five or six of these Mokes exist with a mismatch between the body prefix that appears on the ADR plate and the stamp in the body. The serial numbers puts them all in 1972 making the 13R on
the ADR to be the correct prefix while on the body the stamping shows 12R. I put this down to a mistake by the guy holding the hammer on the day.
Only two serial numbers are duplicated 12R and 14R Mokes and both appear on the Brisbane flood list, see below, a list that has at least one other typo so it was not enough to suggest there was more than one sequence of serial numbers starting at 501, that would also be contrary to the conventions used in the other production runs, however the recent discovery of the 2nd duplicate does suggest more might exist.
The Netherlands Moke may have escaped the conversion and kept its original designation but until more is known about this Moke it is just something in pencil in the history books.
The Brisbane Flood List
In 1972 Brisbane, Queensland went under water and so did quite a number of Leyland vehicles, including 19 Mokes of which 17 were Export Mokes. The vehicles went to Auction and BLMC sent out a technical Bulletin too all dealers and service centres advising that the vehicles were no longer under any warranty. The list has the largest collection of Body and Engine identifiers for the YJBAB14R Mokes, 14 in total, that helps to shape some of our understanding of these very shy Mokes of which only two are known to still exist and the exact number made still eludes us.