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Dwarf Car Builder Still Going Strong
Texas FARM SHOW subscriber Ray Rodriguez sent us a letter recently explaining how impressed he was with the dwarf cars built by Ernie Adams of Maricopa, Ariz., and he wondered if Ernie had been written up in our magazine. We ran a story on Ernie in 2010 (Vol. #34, No. 6) and decided to see if he was still building vehicles today.
“I’ve been building vehicles since I was 11 years old and I don’t intend to quit anytime soon,” was the response we got from the 80-year-old Adams. He says that in the past decade he’s built three new cars, a museum to house his dwarf car collection, and together with his son Kevin and daughter-in-law, built a vintage filling station, gift shop and old time barber shop at their historical village. And in this age of high technology, he also has two websites.
His museum attracts a steady stream of visitors who he visits with nearly every day. “Everyone has questions about how I build the cars, which I’ve answered hundreds of times, and a lot of people ask if they’re for sale, and I tell them no, because I wouldn’t have near this much fun with a pocketful of money,” he says with a laugh.
Unique custom vehicles often attract big money, especially at televised auctions like those in Phoenix, but Adams isn’t swayed by the many 6-figure offers he’s received. “These are like my kids, and I wouldn’t part with them for any price,” Adams says.
The cars have also spawned a bonafide business including movies, books and memorabilia in the last decade.
Viewers can watch “Ernie Builds a Dwarf”, which traces his creation of a 1934 Ford sedan. They can follow him as he cruises Route 66 in his 1949 Mercury and see his life story building dwarf cars in “Halfmoon Road:The Ernie Adams Story”. The notoriety of Adam’s autos are also well-documented in a hard cover book, on his websites, in auto magazines and on popular programs like Jay Leno’s Garage, My Classic Car with Dennis Gage, and the Discovery Channel.
His love for small cars began in 1965 when he built his first dwarf car, patterned after a 1928 Chevy. “It was a 2-door sedan with a 2-cylinder Onan engine that I rescued from a 1964 mail car,” Adams says. “I used parts of 9 old refrigerators for the body, cutting pieces with a homemade hacksaw, a hammer and a chisel.” Today that vehicle, which he still owns, is known as “Grandpa Dwarf.”
In 1979 and 80 he and his friend Daren Schmaltz built two dwarf race cars, which led to the start of Dwarf Car Racing in 1983 on an oval track in Prescott, Ariz. “Eleven drivers participated, Daren and I won two heats, and that was the start of a whole new type of fun,” Adams says. “It continues to this day under the banner of Legend Cars.”
A few years later he began putting his metal shaping and design skills to work building a fully functional and fully replicated 11/16th scale car. After more than 2,000 hrs. of work Adams had created a street legal dwarf 1932 Ford. Others followed including a ’42 Ford ragtop, a ’39 Chevy sedan, a ’49 Mercury sedan, a hillbilly Model A, a ’34 Ford, and a ’40 Mercury chop top coupe. “That one’s painted candy brandy wine red and even has AC and power windows,” Adams says. All of his creations are propotional to the original with working gauges, doors, lids, windows and amazing detail. Powered by different types of engines, most use Toyota drive trains and are fully licensed for road travel. He’s driven his ‘39 Chevy more than 54,000 actual road miles.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ernie Adams, 52954 West Halfmoon Rd., Maricopa, Ariz. 85139 (www.dwarfcarpromotions.com; www.dwarfcarmuseum.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #1