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.
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.
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
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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