Thursday, 19 October 2017

Prisoner Moke fully restored to celebrate The Prisoner's 50th

Remember the Prisoner Moke found in The Netherlands several years ago? Click here if you don't, but I'm sure many of you will recall this great find by Olivier Bos in 2011. Olivier planned to restore the car but had some setbacks and was eventually forced to sell the car. It was sold in auction in 2015 (see here) and there the trace ended, or so it seemed. But fortunately I was contacted yesterday by one of the new owners - Philip Caunt - who snapped it up at the auction together with Jeremy Guy. Philip restored the car over the past two years, just to have it ready for the 50th anniversary party of The Prisoner, held on 29 September in Portmeirion (where else?), where the illustrious series were filmed in the 1960s.

Philip wrote: "Here is 'HLT 709C', the fully restored original Mini Moke as seen in several episodes of The Prisoner, and once showing its true registration number in the episode 'Living in Harmony ' being driven by actor David Bauer as number 2. This Moke also appears being driven by Patrick McGoohan in the chase scene on the beach in Portmeirion."

"Built in May 1965, and registered in June in the London area, the car was converted by Wood & Pickett to a design which resembled a 'beach buggy' while the company 'Weircrest' were to market it. It was used in brochures, photo-shoots and publicity material, and by the London Hilton Hotel. One has to assume it was spotted by a member of the production crew as what they needed for the upcoming television show 'The Prisoner' (it actually was the other way 'round as W&P director Eddie Collins told me-JB). Based on this another 3 Mokes were converted to resemble this one, including 'CFC 916C' which was owned by Max Hora the owner of the Prisoner shop in the 1980s and 1990s. Indeed I owned and restored this Moke back in the 1990s and this vehicle now resides in Los Angeles with a Prisoner fan and Moke enthusiast. HLT 709C was taken down to Portmeirion in late 1966 to begin filming, closely followed by the other 3."

"Whilst filming it sustained damage to the front and had to be returned to London for repairs, the other Moke's covered its absence. After its fame in The Prisoner the car disappeared and its whereabouts were unknown, it appears to have spent time in the Sheffield area in the 1970s but after that the trail goes cold. It is rumoured to have been owned by a member of the production company although I have not been able to confirm this. Move forward to 2011 and it was discovered in Holland by a Mini enthusiast, still with its UK number plates, 'candy stripe roof' and Penny Farthing bonnet logo intact but obviously worse for wear."

"On to 2015 and the owner decides to sell and the car goes to auction at Car-Fest South, where after some keen bidding myself and the co-owner and long standing Prisoner fan Jeremy Guy are successful in buying the Moke. Upon taking delivery of the car (we did not view it before buying... sometimes you just know you want it!), I assessed what was needed for a full but sympathetic restoration, keeping everything I could to keep the car as original as possible, whilst obtaining anything else to bring it back to how it looked in 1966. Despite being in structurally poor condition, the mechanical side was good, including the uprated Cooper 998cc engine which was fitted in 1966 to give it a little more 'oomph' as this Moke had a towbar fitted to enable it to pull a small trailer (as seen in the series ). So the restoration began, many hours and much money was spent. Two years later on the 5th of September the MOT obtained... ready for the 50th Anniversary in Portmeirion. So here it is 51 years on from the filming here and 50 years from the series being first screened. I hope to take it along to a few shows next year ( 2018 ) and meet some of you. Until then... Be Seeing You. Philip M. Caunt" Thank you for that, Philip!

Back in Portmeirion after 50 years! Original Prisoner Moke is now fully restored
Picture Mandy Brookes

Philip restored the car in honour of the series. Prior to The Prisoner is was slightly different
Picture Mandy Brookes

Surrey top and interior are resplendent once more with correct 'candy stripe' fabric
Picture Mandy Brookes

Penny Farthing bonnet logo was 'worse for wear', but Philip managed to save it
Picture Mandy Brookes

Driving this through 'The Village' has to be the ultimate Prisoner experience! That's Philip Caunt behind the wheel, who now owns the car together with Jeremy Guy
Picture Mandy Brookes

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