7 February 2014

Thomas Anthony Donald Crook: Feb. 16, 1920, to Jan. 21, 2014

For well over 50 years Tony Crook was indelibly linked with Bristol cars. However, his involvement with desirable automobiles dates back to his time in the RAF when he owned several of Alfa Romeo’s most fabulous creation, the 8C2900B, as well as a BMW 328. After the war former Flight Lieutenant Crook earned a reputation as a top level driver, often at the wheel of a Cooper-Bristol or a Frazer-Nash, both of which used a version of the BMW 328 engine built by Bristol.

In addition to building its BMW-derived engine, Bristol Aircraft began production of fast and luxurious sporting cars, commencing with the 400 coupe in 1946. The following year Crook established Anthony Crook Motors after acquiring a garage in Caterham with a Ford franchise. He also sold Aston Martin, Lagonda, Fiat, Simca and Bristol (he bought a 400 in 1948). Several business moves followed, first to Esher and then Hersham. In 1960 the White family, which had owned Bristol since the firm’s inception, sold him a 40 percent holding in the company, and he became the firm’s sole distributor, moving to a Kensington (London) premises in 1962. In 1973, Sir George White, who hadn’t fully recovered from a 1969 motoring accident, sold out to Crook, who became the sole proprietor of Bristol. Crook ran the company from his Kensington High Street premises and frequently shuttled (by light aircraft) to the new Patchway factory.

Both amusing and quirky, Crook eschewed both advertising and show displays, but the company continued to sell all the luxurious and powerful Bristols it could build. Finally, in early 1997 Crook sold a 50 percent share of his company to Toby Silverton, whose family assumed full control in 2002. Crook continued on as managing director until 2007 when he retired. He was predeceased by wife Diane in 2011 and his survived by a daughter, Carole.

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