Super Piston Slap: RIP Tom Magliozzi
I don’t know what Tom Magliozzi thought of our little Piston Slap creation, sadly we never met. So I write to remember an inspirational person who did great things: Mr. Magliozzi made the undesirable job of fixing a car into an info-tainment legacy.
NPR wrote a wonderful article, and one point about this MIT graduate really hit home…
He was on his way to work when he had a near-fatal accident with a tractor-trailer. He pulled off the road and decided to do something different with his life.
“I quit my job,” he said. “I became a bum. I spent two years sitting in Harvard Square drinking coffee. I invented the concept of the do-it-yourself auto repair shop, and I met my lovely wife.”
His epiphany eventually turned into Car Talk, the show we know and love. And his situation was mine, I came up with the Autoblogosphere’s Automotive Self Help concept as an unemployed MBA (by choice, I dislike panic attacks) desperately seeking a new mission. My only income was as a high school drum instructor, laughable since it covered the gas bill on the only functioning vehicle I had. (That’s it.) Good times they were not, but seeds were planted…and damn, I miss that 5.0 Explorer.
Here’s a complete fictionalization of how Piston Slap was created with the help of TTAC’s founder, Robert Farago:
SM: Hey Robert! ZOMG SON I HAZ an idea to harness the extreme power of automotive message forums, the all knowing presence of Google Search, leverage the knowledge of our Best and Brightest and create something like Car Talk but with TTAC’s signature spizzarkle. What do you think?
RF: ( stops cleaning gun) Sound great dude, but you need to give it a name before we run with it.
SM: Well it has to be funny, yet crude. And the more you see it, the less funny and more visceral it gets. (Listing names)…and how about Piston Slap?
RF: Sure, if it works for you. I like it. Okay, write it up and let’s see what happens.
I never considered getting paid for Piston Slap, much less making it the biggest part of my autojourno career. And yes, the Slap Happy bits that drive you nuts (Panther Love, LS-swap everything, Sanjeev the Jerk) came elsewhere in this series’ five year tenure. So what have I (we?) learned from Mr. Tom Magliozzi?
You will accomplish amazing things with the right people around and no unnecessary boundaries…and hopefully it’ll make you laugh. A LOT.
While Car Talk had no direct influence on me and Piston Slap, the similarities are clear. Most importantly, he had family/friends/customers/fans that supported his epiphany and let it blossom. He had a great brother who supported his love of cars, and I too know that feeling. So enough about why Mr. Magliozzi is important to me, it’s off to you…Best and Brightest.
[Image: Shutterstock user radioshoot]
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- Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
- ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
- ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
- Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged
- Albert Also owned a 1959 Continental Mark IV coupe for 20 years and loved every minute!
My fondest memory of Tom, his brother and Car Talk is shared with my eldest son. He was around age 5 at the time. We were driving on the New Jersey Turnpike on a long trip. I happen to find a rerun of Car Talk on the radio which my son had never heard before. Suddenly he blurts out, "Daddy! The Rusteeze guys are on the Radio!" That is how recognizable their voices were. My son picked up on their humor and infectious laughter on Car Talk, and in Disney's Cars as Lightning McQueen's rusty sponsors. In both cases, the common link was their tag line, "Don't drive like my brother!"
I don't think I've ever laughed harder at a podcast or radio program than when I heard Tom say "Kids; get away from cell phones, get away from your computers, and mail someone a fish before it's too late."