TBT: Tom Magliozzi

So by now you've probably heard that that laughy guy from Car Talk died this week.

Anyone who has ever takin a long car trip knows who that guy is.

Unless you're the kind of person that reacts to NPR the way the wicked witch of the west reacts to water.

I'm not kidding, those people exist.

Shame too.

They miss a lot of good laughs.

Anyway, Tom Magliozzi (the laughy guy) graduated from MIT in the sixties, got a 9-5 kinda job, and then, after almost getting into a car accident of his way to work, quit that morning, and lived off unemployment for a long time.

Then his brother, 12 years younger, and also a graduate of MIT, came to visit and they came up with an idea for a "Do It Yourself" Car Garage where they would supply the tools and the know how while you fixed your own car.

Note: this was back in the early seventies where that was possible.

Possible . . . but still not a very good idea.

It's a miracle that no one was killed.

Anyway, realizing that they were doing most of the work anyway, they moved to a regular car repair shop and . . . well . . . fixed cars.

Sometime in the eighties, they started with a little college radio show to drum up business for the repair shop and somewhere along the line became the most consistently funny/interesting/poigniant hour of entertainment you could find.

It's  a simple 'Call In' radio show where people ask questions about their cars. A caller calls in with a problem, then brothers debate the possible things it could be, and then give advice.

But the advice never seemed to stop at the mechanical problem. It always veered toward the human element and what might have been super boring became anything but.

Anyway, for TBT, I thought I'd share my two favorite Car Talk moments.

The first . . . 

I was in the car on a long road trip with my dad. It must have been late, because usually we would listen to some kind of baseball game, but this time it was just talk.

At some point he turned the volume up and told me that I gotta listen to these guys and he gave me the same description of the show that I just gave you.

A woman called in asking for advice on what kind of car to get her son who just started driving.

He wanted a classic car.

She wanted a nice reliable car.

And after some heated debate, the brothers told the woman that what she really needed to get him was a Volkswagon Van.

It met the classic criteria. Was easy to fix. Didn't go very fast. And would keep him out of trouble because he'd always have to be the guy that drove everyone home.


And true.

My first car was a Volkswagon Van and it did all those things. In fact, I may not have made it to my twenties had it not been for the reliable unsexyness of my Volkswagon.

So anyway, I was hooked.

Then comes my second favorite moment . . .

My girlfriend and I are driving from San Jose to Vacaville (or the other way, I don't remember). This is the same girlfriend who eventually became my first wife.

Anyway, we were listening to Car Talk and a woman calls in for some advice.

Apparently, her husband had been changing the oil on the car and had gotten halfway through the job and got called away for some reason or another. The wife, not knowing that her husband hadn't finished, drove the car down less than a mile down the street to the super market. The husband seeing the car take off without any oil, ran to the store to catch her before she ruined the engine.

Her Question: How much damage did she do to the car?

Their Answer: None . . . but sell the car.


You didn't do any damage to the engine, but you need to sell the car now or your marriage will be ruined.

What? Why?

Because, even though you didn't do any damage to that engine, everytime something goes wrong with the car it will be your fault for driving it without oil. Sell the car.

My girlfriend and I laughed about that for a very long time. In fact we still laugh about it.

And I know that a blog doesn't really do the radio show much justice, really, at all.

So after you read this, get onto your iPhone or iPad or whatever and download the podcasts.

There's thousands of them, they're free, they're fun, funny, and they just may save your life or help you fall in love.

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