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Provo man opens museum of cars he built himself

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PROVO — Jerry Woodward loves cars.

He loves them so much that he is opening his own museum. But what makes this one unique is that he built every one of the cars by himself.

The museum is next to Woodward's auto-glass shop, just south of the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo. As you step inside, visitors will find a three-wheel car, a five-wheel car and a six-wheel car that is bulletproof.

But beyond the cars, what visitors will really notice is the work of a brilliant man whose focus has always been about the automobile. He's spent his lifetime making them, beginning in 1944 when he was just 15 years old.

Woodward gazes at an old photo on the wall. “This was the first one I ever built after my dad had taught me everything and I decided I wanted this one and I built it from the ground up,” he said.

Woodward's talent for designing and building one-of-a-kind cars led him to the top of a national competition in 1963.

“It was the X-2000, but they said as far as they were concerned, it was the vehicle of the future, it was so different.”

The automakers in Detroit took note. Some of Woodward's concepts soon started showing up on the assembly line.

Ford tried to hire him.

“At the time, my father was in need of me,” Woodward recalled, “and we were in business together and I told them I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave him. He needed me. ... I probably would have made a lot of money.”

It's a decision Woodward still doesn't regret.

He prefers to put his heart and soul into his cars like the bulletproof Army Ant, because it's what he loves to do.

Car enthusiasts recognize his abilities, particularly to be meticulous.

"He's got the patience of Job and the intelligence of Einstein” says Kenn Elliott, a longtime friend. “He's a good person, too, a very good person.”

While his cars haven't made him big money, they have given him a lifetime of memories.

Now at age 81, Woodward wants to make sure his love of cars and innovation is shared with future generations.

“I think it will stimulate their ingenuity and that's what it's all about, for them to learn things when they are young and take advantage of it,” he said.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com