Online Only: Drive into the Holidays | Lot 101
1967 Austin Mini Moke
$50,400 USD | Sold
| United States
11 - 19 December 2019
- Purchased new by famed Hollywood agent George “Bullets” Durgom
- Arguably one of the most well-documented Mini Mokes in existence
- Over four decades of single-family ownership
- The quintessential charming British beach cruiser
The Mini Moke was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and John Sheppard, most well known for their work on the famous Mini. The Mini Moke was originally intended for military use as a lightweight off-roader with excellent ground clearance. In 1964 BMC began production of a civilian version at their Longbridge factory in Birmingham, England. The Mark I was available only in Spruce Green with a single driver’s-side wiper and floor-mounted headlight switch. The Mark II debuted in 1967 and saw the addition of a passenger wiper with horn and headlight operation moved to the indicator stalk. Later examples were also available in white. Throughout production BMC delivered a very basic utilitarian vehicle, leaving it up to the customer to further option the car with creature comforts of their choice. British Mini Mokes were built through 1968, during which time approximately 15,000 were produced, most of which were exported. Production would continue in Australia under the Morris moniker until 1981. In 1990 Rover Group sold the brand name to Cagiva, a Portugal-based company that would continue to produce the Moke until 1993.
In 1966, while in London, famed Hollywood agent George “Bullets” Durgom ordered two Austin Mini Mokes—one for himself and another for lifelong friend Frank Sinatra as a wedding present for him and Mia Farrow. Mr. Durgom, who was staying at the Carlton Tower Hotel, specified his order with J. Kerr of BMC’s Personal Exports Division. According to the purchase order, which accompanies the car, it was a standard left-hand-drive variant powered by the low-compression engine mated to a floor-shift transmission. It was to be finished in Old English White with Spruce Green trim and a Green top, further fitted with a laminated windscreen, front passenger seat with grab handle, two rear passenger seats with grab handle, and a sump guard. A late Mark I example, Durgom was obviously able to pull some strings to have the car finished in white.
The Mini Moke was slated to be built by 5 September, but according to the car’s BMIHT certificate, it was completed on 21 September 1966, slightly behind schedule. On 20 October 1966, the Mini Moke left the United Kingdom onboard the S.S. Brynje destined for Los Angeles. A BMC Export form further adds that the car was equipped with a “spare wheel and tyre” and “kit of tools.” That same day, a Lloyd’s insurance policy was taken out for the car’s voyage. The car arrived at pier 232 in Long Beach, California, on 21 November 1966, two days ahead of its estimated arrival, and was distributed through BMC’s California office in Compton.
George Durgom would go on to own this charming Mini Moke for over two decades in California. He had the car restyled with red-and-white-striped seats and top. The design was similar to that of the famous Mini Moke taxi from The Prisoner, a well-known British TV show. Period photos of “Bullets” with his car accompany the car. Over the course of his career, George managed the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Merv Griffin, and Jackie Gleason, among many others. Mr. Durgom sadly passed away in 1992. His lifelong friend Frank Sinatra penned a lovely letter to George’s brother, John, extending his condolences, a copy of which is included in the car’s file. George “Bullets” Durgom left his mark in the entertainment industry, a dedicated, loyal manager loved by everyone. He posthumously earned a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 1995 in addition to being inducted into the Personal Managers Hall of Fame in 2016.
Prior to George’s passing, the Mini Moke changed ownership in June 1988, with George’s brother, John Durgom of Rockford, Illinois, becoming the proud new owner. Much like his brother, John had a successful business career, including starting his own company with his wife, the Durgom Concrete Pipe Company. His career highlights included being part of the construction teams that built the Illinois toll road system and O’Hare International Airport. In 2006 John and his wife relocated to Palm Springs, California, and he gave the car to his daughter Jane with 11,785 miles on the odometer. Under Jane’s ownership the car was shown at a local car show in 2007. She enjoyed the Moke for a few years before selling it, ending over four decades of single-family ownership.
In February 2013 the car was acquired by the current owner. Shorty after its acquisition, it was treated to a detailed service totaling over $2,000. More recently, the Mini Moke received a full cosmetic detail and new carpet. Today there are 11,941 miles showing on the odometer.
The car includes BMC order documentation and correspondence with George “Bullets” Durgom, including a copy of the letter BMC sent to Frank Sinatra notifying him that he would be receiving a car. The BMIHT and Manufacture’s Statement of Origin form confirm this Mini Moke remains a numbers-matching example. The car retains its original BMC Service manual, which lists George A. Durgom as the owner and “Overseas Delivery” stamped in a few locations. Additionally, the car retains its BMC Customer Identification Plate with the first-class mail envelope it was sent in from BMC in Ridgefield, New Jersey. A vintage Qantas bag houses select tools.
Please note that collection of this car will take place from Auburn, Indiana.