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The Passing of Dale Adams


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I learned with great dismay that my long-time friend and restorer Dale Adams passed away over the weekend. He was a massive talent who brought us some extraordinary automobiles and whose talents were largely unmatched in the restoration world. His was a brilliant mind that also brought us the "Bone" creeper and delivered cars that were not only gorgeous, but which typically run and drive even better than new. His custom creations were spectacular in their imagination and craftsmanship and his only real flaw was knowing that he was probably better than the guys who did it originally. If you needed a Packard V12, few could make one that would run faster or cooler and if you had a problem that nobody else could solve, Dale could solve it. And he was a big part of why the Tom Lester cars were legendary on the road--he knew how to make them sing and dance. His ongoing project was a custom-bodied 1934 Packard convertible victoria, which he called the "hot rod" as it was powered by a Packard V12 augmented by a pair of Schwitzer-Cummins superchargers.

 

Dale was born in Massachusetts but moved to Ohio early. At age 18, he restored a Jaguar XKE that was damaged in a rollover accident and subsequently won a national first prize with it; he owned the car until the day of his death and I have never driven a faster, smoother, more competent E-Type than his. It was almost telepathic to drive and until you experience it, it's hard to understand. It was, to steal a cliche, sublime. Such was Dale's work, a few examples of which I've posted below.

 

Dale was quiet and humble but confident in his abilities, and while is aloofness could be confused with arrogance, it was more often simply shyness. Like all artistically inclined people, he was not a social person. He was always welcoming when I would visit his shop or his home, but there was always the impression that he wasn't comfortable playing host. He just wanted to get back to work. I always enjoyed talking to him and regret not trying to learn more from him when I had the opportunity. His retirement from restoration didn't mean he stopped working on cars and he would still take on select projects, although when I asked him about rebuilding my Lincoln's V12, he merely laughed. It wasn't insulting, it was his way of saying that it was unnecessary. He never seemed to have limits on big projects, but that's why his cars were special. You either paid to have the best or you went somewhere else. I'm OK with that. 


The hobby has lost a giant and I will miss my friend.

 

 

Some of Dale's best work:

 

The "Hot Rod" which uses a 156-inch wheelbase and a twin supercharged Packard V12:

 

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The Pebble Beach 1934 Packard Dietrich:

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The 1911 Mercedes Skiff:

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Others:

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Sorry for your loss, sounds like the hobby also lost a great talent. Was the 1911 Mercedes the one that was restored from the remains of one lost in a garage fire years ago? Bob 

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Guest Mark McAlpine

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Matt.  It sounds like Dale was a very talented and special person.  I'm sorry I never had the opportunity to meet him.

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A little late to this thread but Dale was as good a restorer as there was.  Super talented and had the ability to do amazing metal work.  We were fortunate enough to have him build a pedal car for our auction several years ago thanks to his friendship with our editor West Peterson.  He did not take the easy way out and built a Cadillac that is now owned by one of our members.  The bidding was amazing and rightfully so! He built if from scratch and made wooden bucks to hammer out the shape.  The process was amazing. Great guy and I felt he was really quiet and un-assuming for someone of his immense talents.  Totally understand Matt's comments and sorry for his loss and those that were closer to him.  

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Dale did a series of articles for either Hemmings or Cars and Parts , I believe it is floating around the internet.  A must read if you have any interest in Packard Twelves, absolutely amazing how he solved so many of the rebuilding/machining issues, after reading it multiple times I can now see why twelves can cost so much more than most engines to rebuild

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On 1/21/2021 at 2:00 AM, ramair said:

Dale did a series of articles for either Hemmings or Cars and Parts , I believe it is floating around the internet.  A must read if you have any interest in Packard Twelves, absolutely amazing how he solved so many of the rebuilding/machining issues, after reading it multiple times I can now see why twelves can cost so much more than most engines to rebuild

 

He did those for me, at my request, when I was with Cars & Parts.

 

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