Car Talk Co-Host Tom Magliozzi 'Hated Cars'

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Photo: Daniels, Gene, photographer, Photographer (NARA record: 8463941) - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons

At first, I had the impulse to begin this story explaining why I enjoyed Car Talk as a kid even though I didn’t know anything about cars. But to even supply an explanation is to violate the spirit of what made the radio show special. As long as you found the task of identifying and solving problems inherently fulfilling, no matter the object or concept in question, then Car Talk was for you.


So for longtime listeners, it perhaps won’t come as a surprise that one of the show’s co-hosts didn’t actually like cars. In fact, he had a very conflicted relationship with them.

During an interview with the The War On Cars—a New York City-based podcast that mostly focuses on reducing car usage in urban areas—Car Talk co-host Ray Magliozzi had this to say about his brother and co-host Tom’s (who died in 2014) attitude towards cars:

It was kind of odd that we did the show together for so many years, but he hated the idea of cars consuming our lives, our money, clogging up the streets, polluting the air, all the things that you hate, too.


My brother hated cars. And yet he—for years and years, I tried to convince him that if he didn’t live in Cambridge and wasn’t able to get around with public transportation or by walking, he’d have to have a car that was reliable.

After explaining Tom had a beater to drive short distances that “wouldn’t have even made it to the state line” and that Tom didn’t understand why anyone would need anything better, Ray added:

But he was against cars because of all the things they do to our lives and to our world. And I agree on all of those points.


In The War On Cars interview, Ray goes on to talk about his distaste for gas-guzzling SUVs—which will definitely not be news to Car Talk listeners—and why he thinks gas prices should be steadily raised to $7 a gallon like in Europe, both inherently reasonable policy positions for someone to have, even someone who enjoys driving.

Road & Track’s Bob Sorokanich pointed out that these opinions are deeply consistent with their on-air personas:


Sorokanich’s entire thread is worth reading because it highlights how one can be a car enthusiast without being a zealot, a key distinction that’s getting lost in much of American discourse. These radio hosts acknowledged that cars had become a fundamental means of transportation in our society, for better and worse. And while enthusiast culture is something so many people rally around, it becomes necessary to also recognize—and work to fix—the problems cars have created as well.


Here’s how Sorokanich ended his thread, which I’m still thinking about a day later:


I miss it, too.


Shane Morris

If you have been around cars for any length of time, and don’t have a love/hate relationship with them, I’m not sure you can really claim any Jalop heritage.

Cars are annoying sometimes. Even the best ones can ruin your day when modern electronics get weird. My (19,000 mile) 2018 Cadillac CTS V-Sport refused to start because a transmission sensor was faulty, so a broken $12 part meant I had to spend $340 rescheduling a flight — and that was just last week. That’s almost a third of my lease cost. Sure, the fix was free, but the flight wasn’t, nor was missing a night of sleep, and then being a zombie at an important meeting.

In my very first car, the power top in my 1993 Nissan 240SX convertible conveniently decided to quit working, just as a downpour hit Atlanta. I got soaked, and I ended up doing circles around Atlanta suburbs doing something I’d never done before; trying to find a parking garage. Anywhere. (Edit: I also had my girlfriend in the car. She already wasn’t happy about the convertible messing up her hair. Ask me how happy she was when the top stopped working, and a downpour hit. I totally forgot about that. Maybe because when you’re being hit with a purse at the Lenox Mall parking garage, you prefer to block that from memory?) 

You know what an IMS bearing is? Ask any modern Porsche owner. I can tell you what it sounds like when your wallet does a $10,000 backflip.

Also, cars are a huge source of pollution. As an environmentalist, I’m conflicted, because I love the sound of a high revving internal combustion engine, even though I know cars like the Polestar 1 will be fun — they won’t be the same.

Cars suck sometimes. There are days I just don’t love cars. We all have those days.