Why We'll Miss Car Talk: Great Moments From the Show

By Jonah Loeb  SEP 28, 2012 1:30 PM

We remember some of the funniest conversations from the show, like the time a listener called Tom and Ray to discuss an old Mustang...


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL More than their in-depth knowledge of how cars work or their senses of humor, the greatest strength of Tom and Ray Magliozzi -- hosts of NPR's Car Talk -- is the sincere love they both have for cars. A caller named Patricia began her story by saying, “I have a 1968 Rambler American,” which caused Tom to shriek in ecstasy and then murmur, reverently, “Man alive.” Ray then asked, sounding half-serious, “Are you looking for a husband? ‘Cause my brother is available.” This emotional connection to the world of cars — like the one some people have with art or music —  is what made the show stand out. 
When a listener called in about her Rambler American, Ray said, "Are you looking for a husband? 'Cause my brother is available."

Being on the air for so long meant that Tom and Ray heard just about every crazy thing that anyone’s ever done to a car. Perhaps the craziest (okay, definitely the craziest) story was from a woman named Jennifer who hated her 2001 Volkswagen (FRA:VOW) Beetle so much that she called in about her plans to bring the car to a field and allow people to destroy it with crowbars and baseball bats. The boys talked her out of it gracefully, suggesting that taking a bat to even the worst car was “not a very green thing to do.” They instead convinced her to give the car away for free, suggesting that there were people who would welcome even the most temperamental car.
A 1966 Ford Mustang. "Why would you want that?"


Tom and Ray love cars, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some cars they hate. A sweet young MIT student found that out when she called in to tell them that her parents had promised her a 1966 Ford (NYSE:F) Mustang if she got a perfect score on an exam. “And why would you want that?” asked Ray bluntly. When the girl explained her love for Mustangs by telling them that her first car was a 1989 Mustang, Tom acidly said, “Oh, and that wasn’t unreliable enough for you?” They went on to describe the car’s handling as “barbaric,” and when they finally convinced the girl to buy a new Mustang instead, you could tell they disapproved on principle.
Tom’s and Ray’s affection for Boston and the surrounding area (“our fair city,” as they call Cambridge) is almost boundless. Almost. In one of the funniest bits in the show’s history, a woman named Patty from nearby Belmont (a rich, white, blue blood suburb) calls in and receives a bitingly accurate ribbing. “You were a former hippie, and you wound up in Belmont?” asked Ray. “That’s gotta be one of the most boring towns that I’ve ever been close to. You just drive into town and your hair starts turning blue.” When Patty, laughing, complained that his description
wasn’t quite fair, Tom rep
By happenstance, one listener found that sheep were attracted to the sound of the brothers' laughter.
lied, “No, but it’s true.”

Possibly the most iconic feature of the show was the near-constant cackling laughter of the two hosts. In perhaps the best story ever told on Car Talk, a grocery delivery man talked about stopping at a farm and leaving the show playing loudly on his radio, only to return to find a flock of sheep gathered around the truck bleating loudly along with the laughter of Tom and Ray. The show’s fans repeated the experiment around the country with similar results: It turns out that sheep are entranced by the brothers’ laughter and its ovine qualities. “Maybe we’re pioneering a niche market for NPR,” Ray laughed. It was this ability to laugh at anything, even and especially themselves, that made "Click" and "Clack" such great radio personalities.

(See also: Goodbye 'Car Talk,' Hello 'Everywhere' Radio?)

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