In the Spring of 2017, during my seemingly annual stay in Arizona, my friend and client, Joey Robert Parks, a ghostwriter, publisher and social entrepreneur amongst his many talents, engaged me to help design and layout a very interesting book. The book is titled "Break Time at Ernie's" and documents the life of Ernie Adams the father of Dwarf Cars. It is written by his son Kevin Adams and is a beautiful tribute to his father's life's passion. The book's design is almost complete and I finally got a chance to visit the museum and meet Ernie and Kevin and see the glorious machines in person.
The museum is located in Maricopa, Arizona and despite not having the signs that generally point to notable roadside attractions it is visited by thousands of people, sometimes as many as a hundred in one day. On this hot day Joey and I were lucky and museum's parking lot was empty, save for a beautiful old car (full sized) and beautifully rusted one. What captured my imagination immediately upon arrival was the feeling of great spaciousness and desire to stay a while to explore every nook and cranny of the grounds, not to mention the great mystery hidden inside of the main building.
Keep in mind, that over the three months prior to this moment I have been staring at hundreds of photos of these cars and Ernie and reading about his life. Even that familiarity did not prepare me for a childlike wonder at these works of automotive art. What's more, I do not feel guilty for showing off the photos I have taken in this blog post, because after visiting the museum I believe I could spend many days there listening to Ernie talk about his creations and exploring the explosion of automotive memorabilia.
We found Ernie right at the "Break Time" table (you will have to wait until the book is out to understand the reference to "Break Time"), sipping on a beer and reading a magazine. My first personal impression was that he is a man that is exactly where he needs and wants to be. He greeted us warmly and proceeded to give us the grand tour. Every car on the floor was made by Ernie from scratch using the most inventive assortment of source materials. One of the early cars contains parts of nine refrigerators for example. All of the cars are street legal, fully drivable, some with radios inside and even air conditioning. We wasted no time in trying on the cars for size, encouraged and guided by Ernie.
We have explored four rooms of the museum (there maybe more to see, but we simply did not have enough time during this visit to see it all and hear all the stories). The first is the larger floor in the photos above. The second is the room behind it that houses the cars in the photos below. Shiny and rusty, all these machines have miles on them, some Ernie drove across multiple state lines, some get out for short drives and some are now mostly stationary enjoying their rest and certainly inspiring visitors.
About a half-hour into our tour Kevin arrived and we wrapped up our tour, peeking at the couple of cars in progress in the "Mechanic Room" and proceeded to the "Break Time Room" to have our meeting about the book. A few minor adjustments to colors and layouts are still in order, but the book is almost ready and most likely will go to print to be ready to hit the museum's gift shop in time for Christmas. I will most definitely find more time to visit Ernie again and write more posts about his cars and the book we are working on. I highly suggest that if you are in Phoenix, Arizona to make the time to visit this hidden gem and be amazed at what one person can do and marvel at these beautiful creations and the collection of automotive and historic memorabilia gathered on the walls and shelves of the museum.