Tom Magliozzi, half of team of brothers who hosted NPR’s wildly popular ‘Car Talk’, dies

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(CNN) — Tom Magliozzi, half of the “Click and Clack” team of brothers who hosted NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show, died Monday. He was 77.

NPR reported the death Monday afternoon. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, the radio network said.

For more than 25 years, “Car Talk” has been one of NPR’s most popular shows, a laid-back free-for-all that’s only occasionally about cars. The brothers stopped doing original broadcasts two years ago, but archival material has kept their laughter on the air.

A typical show featured Tom Magliozzi and his brother Ray, 12 years his junior, taking questions from listeners about whether it was appropriate to buy a BMW roadster for a teenager, how to get the smell of a dead mouse out of an air-conditioning vent and whether relationships were worth pursuing with a partner who owned an old rattletrap.

Tom Magliozzi had an old rattletrap himself, a 1963 Dodge Dart that was a constant source of fun for both brothers.

In fact, most things were sources of fun for the brothers, whose uproarious laughter frequently punctuated the show.

“His laugh is the working definition of infectious laughter,” Doug Berman, the longtime producer of “Car Talk,” told NPR. “Before I ever met him, I heard him, and it wasn’t on the air.”

“Car Talk” debuted in 1977 on Boston radio station WBUR. NPR picked it up in 1987. The show was drawing about 4 million listeners at the time the brothers stopped making original broadcasts in 2012.

The two retired from the show in October of that year.

“We’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino,” Ray wrote on the show’s website.

The two brothers didn’t just talk cars. They also owned a Cambridge, Massachusetts (“our fair city,” as they’ve long called their home), garage.

Behind the laughter and advice were two smart men. Both Tom and Ray graduated from MIT.

But after years as an engineer, Tom decided he’d had enough.

“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.”

The program inspired two TV shows — one of them, “The George Wendt Show,” ran for one season on CBS — and at least two books. There’s also a website, cartalk.com, which features a daily car question and other information about automobiles and the brothers.

NPR has been airing archival material since the Magliozzis stopped making original shows two years ago. Berman told NPR that Ray would like the shows to continue as a tribute to his brother.

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