Back In Black

May 09, 1998

RAY: We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and the new puzzler.

TOM: Yeah. Automotive or non-automotive? Semi-automotive or quasi-automotive? Is it quasi-automotive, master?

RAY: It's automotive without being mechanical in nature --

TOM: Ah.

RAY: Or technical in nature.

TOM: Oh, very good.

RAY: So to speak.

TOM: Not even technical in nature.

RAY: And it's somewhat historic and folkloric and maybe bogus. Now, that's another component.

TOM: Is this one of those puzzlers that you thought of while you were in your car and that's what makes it automotive?

RAY: No, this came across my desk recently.

TOM: Really?

RAY: I've always wanted to say that, because it sounds so erudite and elegant instead of -- this was slid under the bathroom door -- which is more likely.

TOM: Came across your desk.

RAY: Came across my desk and actually and I've read this several times from other sources, and this came from Bill Daniels from I don't know, some place in outer space, or cyberspace, or who knows, but many people have sent this and he says... Well, do I have to read this stuff about the previous puzzlers being pretty lame?

TOM: No, you can leave it.

RAY: I don't need to.

TOM: You can skip right over that.

RAY: It's so lame, he says, "Oh bad." Geez, Bill, that wasn't nice. He says, "Henry Ford was falsely credited with inventing the automobile." We know that Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile.

TOM: Of course, he didn't invent the auto.

RAY: And also was falsely credited with inventing mass production which, we think, he didn't.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Anyway, he did one thing right. He created the Model T. He did, indeed. The car was so different since it started out expensive. Dah-dah-dah. I don't need to read all that stuff because it's unimportant and he was responsible for the following statement. "You can get a Model T in any color you want, as long as it's black."

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Now, black is a morbid color. Now, before people start e-mailing me that black is not a color. We will stipulate that black is not a color.

TOM: Fine.

RAY: Black is the absence of a color and as any good bodyman knows you wouldn't paint a car black if you didn't have to, because black shows all the imperfections.

TOM: And when you want to repaint it? What do you do? Go to the paint store and the guys says, "What color you paint you want?" You say," I don't want any."

RAY: No color paint. I don't want a color.

TOM: I don't. What are you doing in here? I don't know. So, black is a color.

RAY: Black. Right. Sure. For the sake of this puzzler black is a color --

TOM: What are you going to call that color?

RAY: And the question very simply is why did Henry Ford choose black?


TOM: His brother-in-law was in the business. Did I give this answer already?

RAY: Yeah, I think so. No, he chose black not because it was the cheapest paint, rather because it was the fastest-drying paint. He wanted to make sure that the paint job didn't stay wet long enough to collect dust and whatever.

TOM: When you got --

RAY: Gizzip them off the assembly line.

TOM: Don't forget, at this time, the roller had not yet been invented. So, they were using nylon brushes to paint these --

RAY: Not nylon. Horse hair.

TOM: Horse hair. Nylon had not been invented yet either.

RAY: Exactly.

TOM: Of course.

RAY: It didn't come until World War II.

TOM: That's right.

RAY: Who's our winner this week?

TOM: OK. The winner is Eric Schultz from Al-bu-quirk-qway, New Mexico.

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