Super Piston Slap: RIP Tom Magliozzi

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Sajeev writes:

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]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Is_lander Is_lander on Nov 05, 2014

    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!"

  • Kevin Kevin on Nov 06, 2014

    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."

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
  • ToolGuy I agree with everyone here. Of course there are exceptions to what I just said, don't take everything so literally. The important thing is that I weighed in with my opinion, which is helping to move things forward. I believe we can all agree that I make an important contribution (some will differ, that is their prerogative). A stitch in time saves nine. Life isn't fair, you know. I have more to say but will continue at our next meeting. You can count on that, for I am a man of my word. We will make it happen. There might be challenges. I mean, it is what it is. This too shall pass. All we can do is all we can do. These meetings are never really long enough for me to completely express all the greatness within me, are they? Let's meet to discuss. All in a day's work. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. At the end of the day, I must say I agree with you. I think you will agree. When all is said and done, there is more said than done. But of course that is just one man's opinion. You are free to disagree. As I like to say...(I am working on my middle management skills -- how am I doing?)
  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.