Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, the vehicles that pull up to the gas pumps July 2, 2013

A 1969 Mini Moke

A 1969 Mini Moke

EVEN MY HUSBAND, an automotive machinist of more than 30 years, had never seen a Mini Moke. And he knows dates and years and makes and models and what’s under the hood and what problems are common with certain vehicles like I understand adjectives and adverbs and all the components of the English language.

The low-riding Mini Moke isn't exactly an open road vehicle.

The low-riding Mini Moke isn’t exactly an open road vehicle.

Thus, given his absence of Moke knowledge, Randy was just as intrigued as me by the mini British utility vehicle that pulled up to the gas pumps at a Faribault convenience store on a recent weekday evening.

I happened to have my camera with me, as I happen to have most of the time. And, after seeking permission from Faribault resident Greg Youngdahl, I photographed his 1969 Mini Moke, which he’s owned some 10 -15 years.

The race car photo on the front is of Robert Youngdahl. The rope? It's always been there.

The race car photo on the front is of Robert Youngdahl. The rope? It’s always been there.

The jeep-like vehicle originally belonged to his father, Robert Youngdahl, who died several years ago and who used the Moke as a pit vehicle when racing his vintage race cars in Brainerd. The younger Youngdahl also races at Brainerd International Raceway and competes with his Miata. He often hauls the Moke north and laps around the track.

Rear view.

Rear view.

But, mostly, he drives the jeep around town—to pick up gas for the lawnmower, as he was on this Thursday evening, or to visit a neighbor.

Youngdahl plans to keep his father's Moke 'as is."

Youngdahl plans to keep his father’s Moke “as is.”

As a tribute to his dad, Youngdahl’s keeping the Moke original, with no plans to restore it like the other two Mokes he owns.

This photo really emphasizes the smallness of the Mini Moke.

This photo really emphasizes the smallness of the Mini Moke.

And as an aside, if his Mini Moke seems vaguely familiar, perhaps you remember seeing a Moke on the 1978-1984 television series Fantasy Island. Actor Herve Villechaize, who was just under four feet tall and played the role of Tattoo (of “De plane! De plane! “fame), drove a Mini Moke.


Because I like showing you details...

Because I like showing you details…

These words, the title of a book by Bert Levee, are imprinted below the windshield.

These words, the title of a book by Burt S. Levy, are imprinted below the windshield. The book focuses on one year in the life of racers on the open road race car circuit.

A 1999 Faribault Heritage Days car show trophy awarded

A 1999 Faribault Heritage Days Car Show third place trophy awarded to the Youngdahls’ Moke in the Foreign & Special Interest class. The trophy was stashed in the back of the Moke and dug out for this photo.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Oh, the vehicles that pull up to the gas pumps”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    What a great car!!! We saw a jalopy on the way to MSP on Sat and it was crazy looking because he had a wooden skeleton profile in the passenger seat holding a can of beer!!!! I tried to take a couple snappies but he got off the exit before I could get good ones. Sure made us laugh!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, wow, I can just picture you trying to snap a few photos while laughing your head off.

  2. […] Bonus III: Oh, the vehicles that pull up to the gas pumps | Minnesota Prairie Roots. […]

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Reminds me of the vehicle VW came out with many years ago called the “Thing”. Kind of a cross between a Jeep and a dune buggy. Fun!

  4. I’ve never heard of this. I suppose because it’s British. Great story.

  5. Tom and DeLores Johnson Says:

    Good Morning, Audrey,

    I have never heard of this car! I admire the guy for keeping it original (with a little “wear & tear”) like his father had it. There is something about a special hand-me-down from your
    ancestors. Thanks for this article.
    Have a nice day and keep your camera clicking! Such a joy to see all the photos.


    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Well, DeLores, I just shot about 700 photos while out of town for a few days. So there will be many images coming from MN, Iowa and Wisconsin.

  6. Great Captures – never heard of a Moke!!!

  7. That is a hoot for sure!

  8. Jackie Says:

    The first thing I thought when I saw this was, ‘It looks like a glorified golf cart”. Did he happen to mention how fast this little beauty will go?

  9. Allan Says:

    Thank you Audrey for the wonderful shots of the Moke. Always enjoy auto photos from MN. There are a lot of really unique cars right here in Minnesota. I want to go to Pierce Nebraska in Sept on the 28th and 29th. Lambrecht Chevrolet is selling off it’s inventory. The place has been closed for the last 17 years, and inside are over 50 “Brand New” 1960-1070’s Cheveys!!!!!!!!!!!!!! most of the Chevs have 2 to 10 miles on them. Over 500 cars, plus all the valuable inventory will go on auction! My Wife if nervous about this auction. Her moto for men is, “Money and a fool soon depart”.!!! I would not have the money to buy any one of the cars, but would love to see a brand new 1975 Corvette with 5 miles on it!!!!!!! Tell your Husband about this auction Audrey!!!! Every Man should be there.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ah, but Allan, my husband beat you to it. He already told me about this auction. Did you see my photos from the car show in Faribault a few weeks ago. I was waiting for you to comment, but you didn’t. Happy shopping in Nebraska.

      • Allan Says:

        I did see the wonderful car photos in Faribault! At the time, I didn’t have time to comment as I was doing many other things at the same time. But notice, I still had time to read your blog, which I do daily religiously. You have me hooked! What car is your Man going to buy? The auto parts, and posters are worth going for! I will be as pleased as a cat full of cream when I am there. My Wife is still coming up with excuses to keep me from going. She doesn’t want to go to the auction. I told her we would stop at gas stations on the way down! That didn’t lure her to my side at all. After 32+ years, she still puts up with me. I would have left me long ago. 🙂 I hope the weather will be beautiful, as I plan to take my Corvette convertible and have the top down to and fro. Are you going with your Husband Audrey?

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Thank you for being a faithful reader, Allan. I understand the time issue. Totally.

        Nope, Randy isn’t planning to attend the car auction.

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