Mike Cook in 2016 with a classic Triumph deer from 1973. Photo credit: RICHARD TRUETT
Triumph sold its last sports car in the United States in the summer of 1982, and on Tuesday the brand lost its PR man, Michael Cook, 85, who never stopped promoting the fun brand of budget roadsters.
From 1958 to 1991, a few years after Ford Motor Co. took charge of Jaguar Cars Inc. – that was disconnected from British Leyland Motors Inc. in 1984 – Cook worked in various marketing, public relations and advertising activities with Rover, Land Rover, Austin, MG, Jaguar and the brand he loved most, Triumph.
"His death is like a library that burns down," said veteran journalist Jamie Kitman, who grew up within walking distance of the headquarters of British Leyland on Willow Tree Road in Leonia, N.J., in the 1970s, and regularly visited there.
"I met Mike in 1987 when he was PR Director of Jaguar," Kitman told Automotive News. "I actually walked from my parents' house to the British Leyland offices and gave me my first test car, one [Jaguar] XJSC, which had the detachable roof panels. He looked me up and down. I think I had holes in my T-shirt and ripped jeans. But he still gave me the car. I think the fact that I could talk to him about British cars could help ", Kitman recalls.
In 1958, Cook sold his own sports car, a Triumph TR2 from 1955, to buy a flight ticket from his home state of Ohio to New York City in the hope of getting a job with the parvenuse brand of imported British sports cars. Cook started his career in the former Standard Triumph, which had its offices and showroom in Manhattan. He was hired as Triumph's assistant advertising manager and charged with the Triumph Sports Owners Association, a role he never really gave up.
Until his death Tuesday morning of pneumonia in Wayne, N.J., Cook was editor of The Vintage Triumph, a magazine for owners of the now classic sports cars of the brand. He was also active in the classic scene of Jaguar, wrote articles and helped journalists with questions about history. During his career, Cook left Triumph cars on magazine covers, and his work helped sell the car's car to drivers who entered the fast-growing sports car races in the 1960s.
One of Cook's most famous PR stunts showed that he leaned out of a TR4 because it seemed to be a corner kick on a racetrack. But the numbers on the side of the car remained hurried, the car went slowly and the photo was taken on a closed horse racing track, reminds of old friend Ted Schumacher. But it became one of the brand's most iconic photo's.
Last summer at the annual convention of the Triumph owner, Cook took note of the sea of graying, balding heads and expanding bellies, as well as the era of Triumph's stylish roadsters, such as the TR4, TR6 and Spitfire.
Cook recently wrote in the magazine of the club: "We have switched to looking at our cars as collectables, but we have real, hands-on memories of driving and enjoying them from the beginning. too distant future, we with our first hand, will be gone … I hope that enough of our children have learned to appreciate our lives with Triumph and they will both love and enjoy to drive them. "