SACRE-BLEU! The French have created their own version of a modern-day Mini Moke.
Like the original beach-loving car invented by the British in 1960s — and adopted by Australians for two decades — the Citroen e-Mehari has no doors and a removable fabric top to make the most of summer.
With plastic seats and floors, the interior can also be hosed clean to get rid of sand.
Thanks to its high-riding suspension the Citroen can scramble over dirt tracks to access surf beaches.
And, as with the original, this modern buggy also has no airbags.
However, there is one big difference between the old and new sun-loving machines — aside from the high price, €25,000 or $AUD38,000.
The Citroen e-Mehari is electric-powered only and has a driving range of just 200km and takes 13 hours to recharge from empty.
The original Mini Moke, made in Australia from 1966 to 1981 (and manufactured internationally from 1964 to 1993), was powered by a range of tiny four-cylinder petrol engines borrowed from the Mini Cooper.
It ran on the smell of on oily rag because the tin body, plastic seats, and fabric roof weighed next to nothing.
The Mini Moke was a favourite among beachgoers not only because it was cheap to run and easy to clean, the galvanised body made it resistant to rust.
Sadly, the Citroen e-Mehari won’t be in Australian showrooms anytime soon as it is made solely in left-hand-drive for Europe, where it will go on sale by the end of 2016.
That leaves collectors to ponder the classic Mini Mokes.
Immaculate examples are now being advertised for in excess of $25,000 — more than the price of a new Toyota Corolla. They only cost about $3000 brand new in the 1970s.
Rhonda Flynn, the president of the Moke Owners Association of Victoria, has owned her Moke since 1982 and says she will never sell it.
“It’s on its third engine and its second body but I just love it,” she said. “I’ve driven it around Tasmania, up to NSW, there’s nothing like a Moke.”
If the Moke were released today it wouldn’t pass minimum safety standards because it has no airbags, anti-skid brakes or seatbelt pretensioners.
But enthusiasts are keeping the memory of the Moke alive.
The National Moke Muster will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the motoring icon on Easter Saturday in Shepparton Victoria. More than 150 cars are expected to be on display.