Founder of Jaguar Land Rover US historical archives dies

Mike Cook, a long-time seller of British sports cars in America and founder of JLR's North American archives, has died

Michael Cook, the founder of Jaguar Land Rover’s North American archives and automotive icon, died of pneumonia last Tuesday aged 85.

Cook’s career longevity in the automotive sector meant he ended up working for Austin, Jaguar, Land Rover, MG, Rover and Triumph. He was often either working on advertising or public relations for the brands, but later in life committed to creating historical archives for Jaguar, who he had been director of U.S. public relations until retiring in 1991. Just prior to that he had hosted two members of the British royal family for the opening of Jaguar North America’s headquarters.

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He was born in Winnipeg, Canada on May 20 1933, and grew up in Ohio as his father was an executive at Proctor & Gamble. Cook was an automotive fan from a young age, and bought several pre-war American cars before getting his hands on a 1955 Triumph TR2. That instigated a passion for British sports cars which made him so successful at his job, which was often marketing these cars to the American people.

His archives were based in JLR’s North American headquarters, which he created alongside Karen Miller in the 1980s, and it became his ultimate passion project, especially during the times it was run without official approval from Jaguar. Much of the material for the archives, which also included documentation for Triumph, was kept in Cook’s own home for years before he could turn his personal pledge to recording the brands’ histories into a shared passion and an integral asset for JLR.

Evidence of Cook’s passion and knowledge only required a quick trip to the archives or an email, as the Briton pretty much held a back-up archive in his own head, including knowledge of hundreds of cars, their associated stories and the people that were connected to them, from the design room straight to owners and racers.

Archiving was just one of his passions (but also technically a post-retirement career), as Cook was a well-known name in the Jaguar and Triumph Owner Clubs, and was involved in the publishing world through books he authored himself and publications he edited. His writing and people skills, honed during his stints in advertising and public relations, were used by Jaguar and Triumph racers. This went from top-class sportscar racing with Tom Walkinshaw Racing down to amatuers, who Cook sometimes joined on track.

Cook passed away peacefully, in the company of his family, and is survived by his four children.

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