The Lotus Seven driven by Patrick McGoohan as ‘Number Six’ is undoubtedly the most famous car to have appeared in the cult ’60s TV series The Prisoner – but this Mini Moke isn’t far behind.
Four Mokes were built for the show by Wood & Pickett after the customising house displayed one as a design exercise at London’s Hilton Hotel with mock wood panelling, a striped roof, seats and spare wheel cover, red and black floor mats and a Moto-Lita steering wheel.
The ‘look’ was intended to attract the Saint Tropez set, but it caught the eye of a member of the production team for Everyman Films who thought the car would be ideal for its forthcoming production.
Just two of the four cars survived following a props sell-off at the end of filming in 1967, shortly before The Prisoner was released (pun not intended).
The Mokes were generally shown with a ‘taxi’ sign in place of a regular number plate, but in what film types call a ‘continuity error’ this one briefly appeared with its HLT 709C mark clearly visible – enabling it to be positively identified as one of the genuine Prisoner cars. Notably, it is the one that featured in the highly unusual December 1967 episode Living in Harmony, which is set in a Wild West frontier town.
Other than the fact that it temporarily ended up in Sheffield during the 1970s, what happened to the Moke during the following 44 years after the series ‘wrapped’ remains uncertain. But its story picks up again a decade ago when it was discovered in a barn in Holland (a proper Dutch barn, then) in what is described as “a very sorry state”.
The current vendor, Phil Caunt, bought the car in 2015 for £13,750 from a CCA auction at Carfest South and spent the next three years restoring it – and, although parts such as the distinctive striped top had to be reproduced, much of the original car was salvageable, including the front bulkhead, bonnet and dashboard. The car even retains its original seats and the ‘penny farthing’ design applied for its appearances in The Prisoner.
After returning it to the road in 2018, Prisoner fan Caunt took ‘the world’s most famous Moke’ back to the bizarre village of Portmeirion in North Wales where the 17-part series was set.
Designed by the eccentric architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and built over a 50-year period from 1925, it takes the form of an Italian village – but is two miles from Porthmadog. In 1998, 20 years after his death at the age of 94, some of Sir Clough’s ashes were packed into a marine rocket and launched over the estuary beside Portmeirion as part of a New Year’s Eve firework display.
1965 Mini Moke
On sale at Silverstone Auctions, Birmingham, UK