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Originally published Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Tom and Ray, the Tappet Brothers, are exhausted

The retirement of NPR Car Talk hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi does not mean they are being towed into the sunset. Their newspaper column continues, and the radio programs will be rebroadcast.

Seattle Times Editorial

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TOM and Ray Magliozzi, better known as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, are putting their beloved "Car Talk" radio show in park after 25 years.

Millions of adults are saddened by the news, and perhaps millions more captive children strapped into the back seat of their parents' cars will be relieved. Sorry, kids, plans are for old episodes to be repackaged to run on National Public Radio ... forever.

After decades of their manifold puns and witticisms, the broadcasts from Cambridge, Mass., "our fair city," never grew stale. The show airs on 660 stations to 3.3 million listeners, NPR's biggest audience.

The magic that Tom, 74, and Ray, 63, brought to radio was grounded in entertainment and chemistry. Cornball humor, sibling shtick and a connection that clutched listeners beyond the transmission of automotive diagnoses and troubleshooting.

Executive Producer Doug "the subway fugitive, not a slave to fashion, bongo boy frogman" Berman estimates the show has eight years of top-rated material before anything is repeated. The "Car Talk" column, which runs in The Times on Friday and Sunday, will continue.

One might sense a cooling of America's passion for cars. A driver's license is no longer an obsessive right of passage, but the nation still cherishes mobility. The show stayed current on electric vehicles, and high gas prices tuned up interest in saving money. These two MIT grads made funny and pragmatism work as weekend entertainment.

No word on the fate of their Russian chauffeur, Pikov Andropov. More certain is the place an iconic American radio program will hold in popular history.

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