RIP: Car Talk‘s Tom Magliozzi, One Half Of Brothers Tappet, Heads To The Great Big Puzzler In The Sky

Ray and Tom Maggliozzi.


NEW YORK TIMES: On the air, the brothers were a team, swapping stories, chortling at each other’s jokes. Ray, who is 12 years younger, has a higher-pitched voice; Tom had the deeper voice and a laugh that tended to run away with itself. Both had unmistakable Boston accents. When asked who was Click and who was Clack, “they said they didn’t know,” Mr. Berman recalled. Another favorite line, he said, was “that they shared one brain, and were each working with a half.” Thomas Louis Magliozzi (pronounced mal-YOT-zee) was born on June 28, 1937, in a largely Italian-American section of Cambridge, Mass. (which the brothers always referred to as “our fair city”). He was the first in his family to attend college, NPR reported, earning a chemical engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958. His brother graduated from M.I.T. in 1972.

By his own account, after graduating from college, Mr. Magliozzi took a conventional path as an engineer until experiencing his “defining moment” after being involved in a close call on the highway. He described the incident in 1999, when the brothers shared a commencement speech at their alma mater. Tom described driving on Route 128 to his job in Foxboro, Mass., in a little MG that “weighed about 50 pounds” when a semi-truck cut him off. Afterward, he thought about how pathetic it would have been if he had died having “spent all my life, that I can remember at least, going to this job, living a life of quiet desperation.”

“So I pulled up into the parking lot, walked to my boss’s office and quit on the spot.”

His brother chimed in, “Most people would have bought a bigger car.”

The two started a do-it-yourself car repair shop in Cambridge called Hackers Haven, but found that their clientele needed more than some work space, a few tools and occasional advice. So they changed the name and philosophy and opened the Good News Garage, a traditional auto repair shop, which is still in operation. MORE

RELATED: Both Tom and Ray graduated from MIT, Tom with a degree in chemical engineering. He went on to work in the marketing department of a corporation, speculating about future trends. Then, after narrowly escaping a crash with a tractor-trailer, Tom abandoned the corporate life and started collecting unemployment insurance. Ray, 12 years Tom’s junior, told Gross in 2001 that his mother urged him to try and rescue Tom from his lay-about life. So Ray, who has been teaching middle school in Vermont, returned to Boston and Tom came up with the idea of starting a garage. MORE

BOSTON.COM: They ended their show the way most other radio shows do, by listing key staff and crew members. But this was “Car Talk,” where everything was done a little differently. The end credits swelled with the names and titles of ficticious staffers, like their Russian chauffeur “Pikov Andropov,” customer care representative “Haywood Jabuzzoff,” and most famously, their law firm, “Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.” MORE

RELATED: How The Magliozzi Brothers Got Their ‘Car Talk’ On