Some people must be born with cars in their blood and a magnetic attraction to all things mechanical. Dale Adams, the founder and president of Dale Adams Enterprises is undoubtedly one of these people!
His journey towards the turning point in life – driving age – was probably an early indicator; he started wiring and re-wiring electric train layouts at the age of four, and by 14 had built his own hydroplane from plans published by Popular Mechanics magazine. But his interest in skimming the ponds of Andover Massachusetts soon gave way to the New England influence of British sports cars, and soon after a family move to northern Ohio, the boat was sold to provide the down payment on a used 1964 MGB.
To pay for the car, he got an after school job at a local used car lot, where he suffered the indignities of rubbing out the good of his boss’ “car-of-the-week” so the boss could gaze out over the shine as he drove, and spray painting carpets to “renew” them. But the pleasure of driving the car on the hilly, tree-lined roads of the Western Reserve more than made up for the demands of the short-lived job. And instead of being discouraged by the inevitable mechanical problems of a used British car, he was lost for hours in the garage, pulling the engine and attending to his latest repair & improvement projects.
This relatively short period of life was to have a profound influence on his future, whetting his appetite for all sorts of automotive knowledge and experience, and becoming a driving desire to involve himself with the cars and machines from the 1900’s up to about the beginning of WWII – cars which many believe are the epitome of automotive style and elegance.
In 1971, soon after the MGB turned into an engagement ring, the acquired his next project – a Jaguar XK120. Living in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time, Dale was lucky enough to meet his mentor, Glenn Pray, owner of the Auburn Cord Dusenburg Co., known for manufacturing modern replicas of the famous Auburn Speedsters. During the days he worked for Pray building the replicas, and spent much of his after work time learning the almost lost arts of metal shaping and finishing and using lead to make repairs. At the young age of 23 he completed a hand-built Auburn dual cowl phaeton for Pray, which was the prototype for a new line of replica cars.
He also spent every spare minute with car enthusiast friends and acquaintances, looking over their shoulders trying to learn and absorb everything possible about cars and how they were built, maintained and restored. He also bought, for $600, the remains of a 1966 Jaguar E-Type roadster that had been rolled. Working in his garage, between part time repair jobs taken on to provide the funds, he completely restored the Jag, and won the Jaguar Club’s National 1st prize, and several other 1st prize awards at local events.
Armed with these, and a rapidly growing reputation, Dale decided to strike out on his own, and at the age of 24, moved his family back to Ohio to start his own restoration business in a converted chicken coop on property he and his wife Josie bought in Northfield Center. Although he first cars he restored were 1950’s Jaguars, his real love is focused on the cars of the ‘20s and ‘30s, the beautiful and expensive cars that are known to collectors and enthusiasts as “The Classics”.
Sharing his enthusiasm for these cars led to friendships and restoration jobs with leading collectors of the area, including Packards, Rolls-Royces, Nashes and Peugeots, a classic Cadillac for the late Len Immke (co-founder of Wendy’s restaurants), and many others.
After several additions and remodelings, the location in the Northfield chicken coop was outgrown, and the business moved to a modern facility in an industrial park in Twinsburg. Needing more space after six years there, Dale and his wife Josie, who shares his interest in cars and architecture, purchased and completely renovated a 1928 art deco factory building in Kent, Ohio, and moved the business into it in February of 1995.
Adams, who says he “Loves the challenges and rewards of doing a complete, full restoration”, prides himself on having one of the most completely equipped auto restoration facilities in the world. Partial jobs and maintenance operations are only done as a courtesy for established clients. “We have a complete metal fabricating facility”, says Adams, “an extensive wood and pattern shop, a fully equipped body and paint facility, upholstery and trimming capabilities and a complete machine shop equipped with precision tools and CNC equipment that is used extensively to replace lost or ruined parts. About the only things we can’t do in-house are castings, plating and engine boring, which we sub-contract to various specialists.”
Not content to rest on their restoration laurels, Adams and his wife have also founded other auto-related businesses which they operate from the Kent facility, including a manufacturing operation which produces precision machined components which are used by some of the leading auto parts manufacturers to re-manufacture modern automobile rack & pinion steering systems. Adams not only developed the methodology for making these parts, he designed and built many of the machines used to do it!
Since he’s spent a lifetime working with cars and tools, it is perhaps no surprise that he undertook yet another venture, to re-design and manufacture a better version of the lowly mechanics creeper. Called “The Bone”, this product has been featured in a host of national trade and consumer magazines, on National television, and is currently marketed on a worldwide basis.
Dale’s most recent project is a 20,000 square foot mansion situated on a 72 acre farm in Ravenna, Ohio, which he plans on turning into his new home after renovation.
(Bio written by Josie Adams)
Above: A young Dale (right) standing outside of Glenn Pray's facility in Tulsa.