Tom and Ray Magliozzi — better known as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers — announced Friday that they will end their long-running NPR show, Car Talk, later this year. That’s distressing news for owners of castoff Cadillacs, well-worn Winnebagos and hand-me-down Hondas who have turned to the pair for 35 years for answers to questions — both technical and philosophical — about their beloved automobile’s strange rumbling sounds, unidentifiable smells and other personality quirks.
No question was too weird or silly for Tom, 74, and Ray, 63, to tackle — even if they occasionally (often?) had to guess at an answer. And that’s what made listening to the fun-loving MIT grads such a pleasure. The good-natured pair didn’t get bogged down in auto-minutae, preferring instead to explore the human stories behind the cars. And their taste in cars was anything but snobby. Clunkers, jalopies, lemons all got their due. The Magliozzis appreciated an aging rust bucket Dodge as much as — or more than — a brand-new high-performance Porsche.
In his wonderful 1999 profile of the Boston-based brothers, former Washington Post reporter Frank Ahrens wrote, “A public radio show about car repair seems an unlikely match of high- and lowbrow. But the brothers have effectively tapped their top-notch educations to hilariously, disarmingly dispense advice about car repair, a topic that intimidates many listeners. They banter with callers, read letters, tell jokes and pose ‘puzzlers,’ the show's cornerstone mind teasers.”
In a statement on their Web site — headlined Time to Get Even Lazier — the brothers posted their news with Ray saying that with “my brother turning over the birthday odometer to 75, we’ve finally decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.” (Read the full version here.)
They go on to say that they will continue writing their weekly “Dear Tom and Ray” column and contributing to their Web site. And that a new weekly Car Talk show — featuring selections from the program’s massive archive — will continue on NPR in the fall.
“Sorry detractors,” Tom wrote, “we’re still going to be on the air!”