After production under Austin Rover Portugal ceased in July 1989, Rover put the whole operation on the market, inviting bids for manufacture of the car under licence. Despite early interest from Caterham, in April 1990 it was announced that manufacturing and sales and marketing rights had been sold to the Italian engineering group Cagiva. Better known for their range of motorbikes, production was scheduled to start in 1991 in Italy with an annual output of 2,200 vehicles.
Jim Lambert was to be director of operations but when he realised that the business case did not stack up, withdrew from the venture. This was because when the Moke had been manufactured under Austin Rover, the running gear and subframes had been purchased at cost. But now that Cagiva owned the rights, Austin Rover increased the price enormously.
Despite this huge increase in cost for the running gear and concerns that the vehicle had been out of production for too long, production did restart but at Vendas Novas rather than Italy as originally planned.
Italian production was short lived. Manufacturing cars to stock rather than to order resulted in a large stock of unsold cars in 1992. Production of Mokes ceased in July 1992 after 2,071 cars had been built. However many Mokes remained unsold until 1993.
Tooling, jigs and unfinished vehicles were moved to Italy. These unfinished vehicles were probably finished off by hand in Varese. There was talk of production restarting in 1995 but the idea was quietly shelved.
When Cagiva took over production in 1991 they continued to make essentially the same vehicle, still using Rover supplied drive train and mechanicals. The most noticeable difference was under the bonnet, with the removal of the standard Mini radiator and fan, replacing it with a front mounted radiator and electric fan. This had been conceived in pre-Cagiva days and was necessary to comply with EEC drive-by-noise regulations.
Other changes included a redesign of the sidescreens complete with weather proof zips that formed a "C" shaped door opening and the fitting of plastic grab handles to the top rear part of the roll cage.
Cagiva Mokes all used the standard "A" series 998cc engine. There had been plans to introduce the 1275cc unit that was standardised on Minis in May 1992 but production stopped before this.
The Cagiva Moke was sold in the UK under the standard or SE model names. The standard model was the same as the Austin Rover four seater model, and the SE sported metallic paint, tinted windows, white alloy wheels, special smaller bull bars etc. Elsewhere in the world the Moke was available in 2 or 4 seater forms as before, with many options/extras depending on country requirements.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can be found stamped on the bulkhead behind the air filter. It can also be found (together with colour and trim codes) stamped on a plate in the engine bay, pop-riveted to the radiator surround or guard.
Cagiva Mokes VIN numbers start: TX5 XK
The first two of the last 6 digits of the number give the year of manufacture. They are reversed so 38 is 1983, 48 is 1984 etc.
7. Model Identification Summary
Cagiva Moke (1991 to 1993). Body coloured grille and bumpers, Front mounted radiator. Smaller, rounded bumpers and metallic paint on SE model.