Tom Karen

Thomas Josef Derrick Paul Karen OBE (born March 1926)[1] is a British industrial designer of Czech descent. He was managing director and chief designer of Ogle Design from 1962 until 1999. He oversaw design of the Bush Radio TR130 radio, the Raleigh Chopper, the Bond Bug, the Reliant Scimitar GTE, the Anadol A1 (FW5), a series of lorry cabs for Leyland, and the Marble Run toy (sold by Kiddicraft).

Tom Karen

Thomas Josef Derrick Paul Karen

March 1926 (age 94)
Vienna, Austria
Alma materLoughborough College
Occupationindustrial designer
Titlemanaging director and chief designer of Ogle Design
Bond Bug

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Vienna in 1926, but went to school in Brno. The family left Czechoslovakia in 1939 and Karen reached England in 1942. He studied aeronautical engineering at Loughborough College.


He worked for Hunting Percival, makers of the Proctor and the Provost trainer, then the Air Registration Board. He enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. He joined the Ford design studio in 1955.

He then worked briefly for David Ogle before moving to Hotpoint and to Phillips where he set up their studio for white goods.

In 1962, Karen was invited to take charge of Ogle Design following the death of David Ogle in a car accident. He was managing director and chief designer until 1999. While there, he designed Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder for the Star Wars films; the Landspeeder was built around the chassis of a Bond Bug.[2][3]

In 1969 Ogle Design under Tom Karen was given the task to design a modern caravan for the recently acquired Eccles brand of caravans for CI (Caravans International) by Sam Alper of Sprite Caravans. The Eccles Amethyst was launched in 1969 at The Caravan and Camping Exhibition. Seen as ‘The Caravan if the Future’ with blown plastic exterior panels and each year the interior would be tweaked to keep the look fresh and modern. Sadly the design was slightly ahead of its time and Eccles reverted to a more traditional look by 1975 which became one of the best selling caravans in Britain at that time.


In 2001, Karen received an honorary degree from Loughborough University.[4]

In 2018, Karen was awarded an OBE in the 2019 New Year Honours for his services to design.

Karen on fastbacksEdit

In March 1969, shortly after the launch of the Reliant Scimitar GTE which he had designed and of the Ford Capri (which he did not design), Karen had the opportunity to give his opinion on fastback designs. He claimed to be "baffled" by "the case for fastbacks" because he thought there was "nothing good to be said for them except that some people think they look all right". "Aerodynamically they're lousy, headroom in the back is lousy, for visibility they're lousy, with a lot of glass they're lousy from a weight point of view and they give no boot access".[5]


In 2010 Karen published a book, Ogle & The Bug.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Karen lives in Cambridge.[7]


  1. ^ "Thomas Josef Derrick Paul KAREN - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  2. ^ "The Force is strong with this three-wheeler from Preston". The Independent. 17 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Star Wars Insider #98 Excerpt: Roger Christian". Lucasfilm. 4 December 2007. Archived from the original on 6 December 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  4. ^ "Dr Tom Karen". Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  5. ^ "British in style: The Ogle design studios show the way". Motor. Vol. nbr 3483. 22 March 1969. pp. 26–32.
  6. ^ "children books cartoon books". Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  7. ^ Fitzpatrick, Maria (16 March 2014). "My space: Tom Karen, inventor". Retrieved 19 October 2017 – via

External linksEdit