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            Contact Me Follow 3-wheelers.com on Facebook Follow 3-wheelers.com on Twitter See my videos on YouTube See my photos on flickr Add Elvis Payne to Linked In

            3-wheelers.com e-interviews

            Dr. Tom Karen

            Head of Ogle Design until 1999 and the designer of the Bond Bug and Reliant Scimitar GTE amongst others.

            3-wheelers.com

            In 1954 you created a little 3-wheeler called the Vimp with Andrew Waddicor. How did that come about?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            My job was not very taxing. Recreations were tennis, amateur dramatics, then ceramics. But that wasn't enough. My lifelong interest in cars made me want to design a compact economical little two seater. It wasn't very pretty but quite ingenious with the windscreen and part of 'bonnet' hinging forward for access. It was never finished but probably helped me into Ford.

            3-wheelers.com

            Does the Vimp still exist?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            Mercifully I hope not.

            3-wheelers.com

            As Managing Director and Chief Designer of Ogle Design I know you oversaw many designs which include the Bush TR130 Radio and the infamous Raleigh Chopper. When ever I hear your name though it is nearly always associated with the Bond Bug. To you personally is this one of you most favourite designs?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            The Bug was the most fun design and it was extraordinary to get away with such a quirky design. The interest it caused was amazing and I am pleased it has given much pleasure to its fans. People associate me and Ogle with the Chopper, the Scimitar GTE, the Popemobiles. A toy I designed in 1970, a marble run, has given pleasure to thousands of children ever since, gives me much satisfaction and concept work for a hugely successful van (we are not allowed to claim any credit) has probably made the most money for a client.

            3-wheelers.com

            I've seen a documentary in which you mention that if the Bond Bug was  sold through a Ferrari dealership rather than a Reliant one, that there would have been a lot more than 2,268 vehicles made. Do you still think this is the case?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            That was a bit of playfulness but I believe Reliant/bond dealers didn't like the Bug particularly and didn't understand the market - it didn't fit with Regal customers.

            3-wheelers.com

            The Bond Bug for its time was completely radical, was there any opposition towards the design from anyone at Reliant or was it a unanimous favourite with everyone.

            Dr. Tom Karen

            I tried to sell the idea from the early sixties without success - even had some 1/8 scale models made. Only when Reliant bought Bond and a the need arose for a new model did we get the go-ahead. I suspect our proposals shocked a bit but they must have seen potential and had already stuck their neck out with the GTE, a radical design.

            3-wheelers.com

            I believe you studied Aeronautical Engineering and also worked in the Aircraft Industry. Did that have any effect that in making the Bond Bug turn out the way it did with a large lift up canopy?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            I loved going down to the factory watching how aircraft were being
            made but the 'canopy' started with the Vimp.

            3-wheelers.com

            The Reliant Scimitar GTE sports coupe is also your design. Do you ever look at certain modern cars and still see traces of Scimitar in them? It seems that no matter how cars evolve some have Scimitar styling cues some where?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            The GTE certainly started a trend: there had been no 'sporting estate' before and no car with a waste line that went up all the way to the back. It got a mixed reception - many motoring journalists and other folk didn't like it. Now there are any number of of GTE like cars around. The logic of extra space and headroom in the back, the great aerodynamics and the thrusting nose down stance have been widely adopted.

            3-wheelers.com

            I've seen a design for a modern Bond Bug with two wheels at the front. If you designed a new sporty 3-wheeler for 2010 would you go for two wheels at the front and one at the back or stay with two at the back and one at the front?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            I am currently scheming a three seat, three wheel town vehicle, more fun and much cheaper than the Smart, with an Isetta configuration: two wheels in front with power pod and coupled wheels at the back.

            3-wheelers.com

            Is there any thing now, whether it be a vehicle or an object that you look at and think, "I wish I designed that".

             

            Dr. Tom Karen

            I hugely admire designs from the VW group: they are the most sophisticated in the industry. And who could fail to love Apple products.

            3-wheelers.com

            In 2008 my brother and I drove 5,500 miles in a Reliant Robin to the North Cape and back along with four Bond Bugs. The attention they got travelleing through Europe was outstanding. Are you pleased that something designed almost 40 years ago still creates such a reaction when ever it is seen?

            Dr. Tom Karen

            I commend you for your adventurous trip and am hugely gratified that the Bug still attract so much interest. I look forward to exposing some grand children to the Bug at Woburn - they only know it from pictures and drawings on T- shirts so far.

            3-wheelers.com

            Tom, thank you very much for taking part in this interview for 3-wheelers.com's 10th birthday. Your time is much appreciated.

            Dr. Tom Karen

            Thanks for asking such interesting questions.

            For other e-interviews please click here

            Dr. Tom Karen

            My thanks to Dave Poole for this photo.

            The Vimp

            The Bond Bug

            The Raleigh Chopper

            The Reliant Scimitar GTE

            The Bush TR130 Radio

             

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