Tom Karen was a legend.
It’s a phrase that is often over-used to describe anyone from a footballer to a reality TV star – but Tom truly earned the tag.
He was a giant in the design world and helped propel Ogle to the forefront of the industry, building on our early foundations to drive us to become the market leaders that we are today.
He was, and will always be, an inherent part of Ogle’s history.
His death on New Year’s Eve came as a shock to us all and it has filled us with a deep sense of pride seeing all the warm tributes paid to him and his outstanding legacy.
Tom, who received an OBE in the 2019 New Year Honours for his services to design, was 96 when he died at his Cambridge home, with family around him.
He had a fascinating life. Born in Austria, he spent his formative years in what was Czechoslovakia before moving to the UK in 1942.
He was already involved in car design before his path first crossed with David Ogle, our company founder. He worked briefly with David before joining Hotpoint, where he received an award for his designs.
After David’s death in a car accident, Tom returned to Ogle to lead the company and was our chief designer as well as managing director from 1962 until 1999.
That was Tom’s purple patch when the iconic designs just kept on coming, making Ogle one of the leading design houses in the country. His back catalogue reads like an encyclopedia of design classics – Reliant Scimitar, Reliant Robin, Bond Bug, Luke Skywalker’s fantastic Landspeeder for the first Star Wars movie…
But his talents went beyond automobiles. Tom was also responsible for the amazing 70s toy, Marble Run, and we can’t talk about Tom without mentioning the truly iconic Raleigh Chopper.
Director Phil Martin said: “Tom was such an integral part of the Ogle success story. He pioneered so much of the work that we continue to do today, overseeing our progress from automotive designs, through the thrill of Star Wars and into aerospace.
“’Thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough.”