News : Tom Karen awarded OBE in 2019 New Year’s Honours List

Tom Karen, the well-known designer, stylist and inventor, has been awarded the OBE for his services to British design.

Ninety-two-year old Tom Karen, who designed the Raleigh Chopper and the Bond Bug in addition to taking a major role in the design of the Reliant Scimitar GTE, has been recognised in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list. His Order of The British Empire medal has been awarded for Services to Design.

Viennese-born Tom emigrated to England after his family escaped the German invasion of Czechoslovakia during World War 2. He briefly worked in the aviation industry before taking up a position with Ford of Great Britain in 1955, working under the fearsome leadership of Sir Patrick Hennessey.

Tom eventually went to the Letchworth-based Ogle Design company but, following the sudden and tragic death of its founder David Ogle, Tom was offered the position of Managing Director and Chief Stylist – positions which he was to enjoy for more than 35 years.

Ogle Design’s biggest project came in 1976 when the company won a Leyland/Motor Panels contract to design what became known as the T45 range. Tom remains incredibly proud of this

The products and items in his portfolio are weird, wonderful and varied but, without doubt, the biggest project he and Ogle were involved with was the design of the C40 range of lorry cabs which eventually became known as the Leyland T45 range of commercial vehicles first introduced in 1980.

Tom and his Ogle team were regularly commissioned to style or design concept projects with clients ranging from Aston Martin to London Transport. This is the Triplex 10-20 Glassback from 1978 – no prizes for guessing what platform it uses

However, of course, Tom is well known for his other creations and designs too, and here are just some of the designs which rose up from his drawing pad:

  • Raleigh Chopper
  • Bond Bug
  • Scimitar GTE
  • Plaxton Panorama and Paramount coach bodies
  • Triplex 10-20 Concept Princess
  • LDV Convoy and Pilot vans
  • Seddon Atkinson 2/3/400 series commercials
Mike Humble


  1. A well merited honour, Tom literally made the landscape of our lives. Panorama was used by Plaxton for various bodies from 1958 to the present, the one Ogle Design and Tom Styled was the 1965-69 version.

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