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"Click & Clack" Honored With Car Talk Special EditionNPR? Popular Radio Show Blends Bluegrass & Comedy


Lest anyone think C. F. Martin & Co. would create a Car Talk Special Edition guitar purely because these guys are famous, know that Tom and Ray are as serious (considering their on-air personas, maybe more serious) about music as they are about cars. Both got hooked on playing acoustic guitar in the 1970s and soon formed a bluegrass band, with Tom playing standup bass and giving the guitar spot to younger brother and lead singer "High and Lonesome" Ray. The band may be long gone, but both own Martin guitars and still occasionally play a bluegrass night at one of the local clubs in Cambridge. They also show their bluegrass allegiance on "Car Talk," where "Dawggy Mountain Breakdown" by David Grisman is the theme song.

The Martin Car Talk Click and Clack Special Edition is a classic Dreadnought, featuring solid tonewoods throughout for full, powerful tone; an Engelmann spruce top with forward-shifted 5/16" scalloped braces, East Indian rosewood back and sides, a 1 3/4" (at the nut) low profile neck with diamond volute, and African black ebony fingerboard and belly bridge. A Style 45 rosette in select abalone pearl is matched by a colorful Style 45 mosaic backstrip. Bold herringbone around the top and fine black/white inlay on the back and sides are accented by grained ivoroid binding; the grained ivoriod endpiece and heel cap are framed by fine black/white inlays. Both the nut and saddle are crafted from genuine bone.

With the irrepressible Magliozzi bothers involved, the Martin Car Talk Click and Clack Special Edition takes a quick right turn into humor. Cartoonist and illustrator Bill Morrison, responsible for much of the artwork on the award-winning "Car Talk" website, has created some amusing designs for this unique instrument. The fun begins on the polished ebony headplate, with - just below the old style C. F. Martin decal logo - a mother of pearl inlay of Click and Clack in a dilapidated car trailing parts down the fret board in their wake. Those parts and tools - also inlaid in mother of pearl with thin pearl borders - serve as the fingerboard position markers: fender at the 3rd fret, muffler at the 5th fret, muffler pipe at the 7th fret, battery at the 9th fret, tire at the 12th fret and wrench at the 15th fret. Tom and Ray's signatures appear in pearl at the 20th fret.

Back at the headstock, Gotoh® chrome tuners are equipped with unique "Car Talk" buttons featuring a car similar to the one on the headplate, designed by Bill Morrison and custom cast by Goldbug. The pickguard is also unique, as it bears - thanks to new technology - a "printed" version of the classic "Car Talk" credits (heavy on the puns) that run at the end of the show. Aging toner gives the top vintage character under Martin's flawless polished gloss body finish; the neck receives a satin finish for playing comfort.

Click and Clack's road to success has had more twists than a two-lane highway with a double yellow line. Tom and Ray Magliozzi were trying to find their place in the world after graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology when they founded "Hacker's Haven," with the goal of making boatloads of money without actually working. They provided space and tools for clients fixing their own cars, but as hippies turned into yuppies and car repair became more complicated, "Hacker's Haven" became the "Good News Garage," a conventional auto repair shop that kept both busy, if not solvent. When the brothers - along with four other area mechanics - were invited to NPR member station WBUR in 1977 to discuss car repair, Tom was the only one to actually show up (apparently the others thought it was some sort of Department of Consumer Affairs sting operation). Invited to come back the following week, Tom asked if he could bring his brother. The Magliozzis subsequently were given their own weekly call-in program about (nominally, anyway) cars, which soon attracted a large local following. They eventually even got paid.

In 1987, their show, now called "Car Talk," debuted nationally on NPR. To supervise the on-air mayhem, Doug "not a slave to fashion" Berman became their producer. Two years later, the brothers launched a twice-weekly newspaper column called "Click and Clack Talk Cars" under the nom de plume (filched from an old shop manual) the Tappett Brothers. They also established an umbrella company to manage their activities, the now famous Dewey, Cheetham & Howe.

The rest, as they say, is history. "Car Talk" now is heard by nearly five million listeners each week on more than 600 public radio stations, and in 1992 won a coveted Peabody Award. "Click and Clack Talk Cars" appears in 350 newspapers and the "Car Talk" website gets more than 400,000 visitors each week. The twosome have authored several books, including In Our Humble Opinion, A Haircut in Horsetown and Other Great Car Talk Puzzlers, created three carthemed music CDs and had a cameo in the Pixar movie "Cars." They also were commencement speakers at MIT in 1999. Their next stop is prime time television; PBS had green-lighted an animated series titled Click and Clack: As the Wrench Turns, which is scheduled to air in summer 2008.

Each C. F. Martin Car Talk Click and Clack Special Edition guitar features two interior labels. One is personally signed by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, and numbered in sequence without total. A tiny mango in the lower right corner serves as a reference, of sorts, to one of the show's more intriging "Puzzler" segments. A second photographic label depicts Tom and Ray holding their model in a humerous "Car Talk Gothic" parody, with credit to illustrator Bill Morrison.

The Car Talk Click and Clack Special Edition is delivered in a Martin case featuring a special "Car Talk" Massachusetts license plate. Factory-installed electronics and/or a 1935 sunburst top are extra-cost options. The unique Car Talk pickguard is not available on left-handed model requests. Authorized C. F. Martin dealers will begin taking orders for the Car Talk Click and Clack Special Edition guitar immediately, and participating dealers will be listed on this website.

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