Tom Magliozzi, half of “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers” died today.  Thanks to Tom and his brother Ray, millions of us, myself included, laughed sometimes until it hurt over their NPR call-in radio show “Car Talk.”  We’re poorer, but heaven is a much funnier place today.

His passing brought to mind a personal story that only could have happened due to Click and Clack.  In 1989, my then-start-up venture IntelliChoice was just getting off the ground.  We had a handful of employees and our new car ownership cost guide had just been published.

To promote it, my business partner and I went to a few industry trade shows.  Overwhelmed by the money being spent on booths and marketing by the other companies, we realized we had to do something to get people to notice us in our tiny, austere booth.  We hit on the idea of manning our booth while wearing rented tuxedos – a total cost of $200.

The idea worked brilliantly.  Being from New York, we both put on our best accents, hammed it up, and became the hits of the show.  In fact, person after person asked us if we were “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers.”  Without blinking an eye, we said we were “Click and Clack the Tappet Cousins,” telling people that we were the “next generation” car guys.

The rest of the trade show circuit became a huge success for us.  My partner and I drew crowds, we would ask each other questions about our company and answer in the funniest way we could.  People stopping by would ask questions and we would try to make the questioner laugh.  For instance, our publication was all about vehicle economics and getting the most for your money.  When someone asked us what car we would buy, we said “please buy our book so we can buy a Porsche and not care about value for money or what our book says!”

It’s possible that IntelliChoice might not have succeeded if that set of trade shows didn’t succeed.  And there is no way those trade shows would have succeeded if not for Tom and Ray, the Tappet Brothers.

I enjoyed Car Talk for years and years.  Tom and Ray are true originals.  May Tom rest in peace, and may his family find solace in the joy he brought so many people, and the company that he, unknowingly, helped become a success.


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