I often find myself watching programs about automobiles, usually that’s on the Motor Trend Channel (formerly Velocity). In recent months, I discovered Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC. Jay feeds my addiction for classic and unique automobiles and as it happened, one of the features had Jay and Brad Garrett visiting a museum in Maricopa, Arizona. The story featured a collection of vehicles built by Ernie Adams and Gene Tweedy. These hand-made one-off classic cars are about 11/16th the size of the original vehicles they are modeled after. In the segment, Jay and Brad were sandwiched into a dwarf convertible that they drove around on the nearby streets of Maricopa.In the photo above, builder Gene Tweedy poses next to his 1950’s era Chevrolet dwarf car. As are all the vehicles in the museum, it is street legal and this one is powered by a 4-cylinder Toyota engine. The photo below features the car in which Jay and Brad found themselves sharing the tiny interior. With Brad’s 6 ft-8 inch (2 m) frame, there was no doubt he needed an open top car.
The museum is only about 75 minutes from our house in Buckeye so we decided to visit the museum when my sister and her friend, Jeep, came to town. As you might guess by his nickname, Jeep enjoys all things automotive. He and my sister are regular guests when it comes time to head to Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction every year. We soon found ourselves pulling into a small parking area in front of the museum, an unassuming affair that moments after we got out of our car was crowded with over a dozen motorcycles and their riders who also happened to pick that day and time to visit.
Without a person such as Jeep nearby to give a size reference, you would have little clue that these cars are not an actual version of the vehicle they are modeled after. The workmanship is amazing and Ernie Adams and Gene Tweedy are surely masters of their craft. If you are wondering what they are worth, don’t bother asking. None of them are for sale at any price. The museum is a workshop and garage where the master miniature car constructors do their work. In another section of the workshop, a 1964 Chevrolet Impala is taking shape under the careful workmanship of Gene Tweedy.
Tucked away in the corner of the workshop/museum, a small area is walled off and the sign over the door proclaims “Gingers Barber Shop.” Ernie wasn’t around to ask that day, but Gene, in between sharing stories of the cars he built, told me that one of Ernie’s family members had the shop here. It is no longer functioning as Ginger has moved to a nearby strip mall.
On the wall of the barber shop, two photos show Ginger shaving two well-known personalities, Jay and Brad, their autographs taped to the bottoms of each of the photo frames. There are other small rooms in the museum/workshop that provide background and history of the projects and other automobilia.
I was surprised to see so many different types of vehicles. He has built race cars and, in 1983, the first Dwarf Car race was held in Prescott, Arizona. Ernie’s first vehicle, shown in the image above, was built in 1965, a miniature 1928 Chevy two-door sedan constructed by recycling nine old refrigerators. That car is still running and being driven. You can find out more about the museum/workshop by checking out their website here. There is no admission charge, but you can support Ernie’s work with a free will donation at the museum or via their website. I submit for your inspection a collection of images gathered with my cellphone during our trip to visit the Dwarf Car Museum. In most browsers, you can click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.