BOUNTIFUL -- Arthur Lifferth has got the whole world in his hands.
The 88-year-old Bountiful resident has been building and working with his hands his whole life, building seven homes, working on a motor home, restoring several classic cars and constructing a lighted Christmas village with more than 100 buildings, complete with trains and motor cars.
Now, the man whose hobbies have centered on planes, trains and automobiles is sharing his world by building toy cars that are sent around the world to children in need.
"I've made 1,306 cars now," said Lifferth, who donates the cars to LDS Humanitarian Services.
He started making the wooden cars a year and a half ago when his son Dennis, then managing director of LDS Welfare Services, approached him with the idea.
Lifferth has spent much of his life in service to others. He and his wife, Okla, who died four years ago, served three LDS missions, and he served during World War II in the 98th Squadron of the 440th Troop Carrier Group in Europe.
Making the cars seemed a natural fit for a man who enjoyed service and loved working with his hands.
"I've always had a feeling of building things. I've always wanted to build things," he said.
"I had a friend who golfed, and he came over and walked around, and he said, 'You know, Art, I think I missed out on life. I envy you now.'
"And I said, 'Why?' He said, 'All I've got to give to my grandkids is a bunch of lousy golf scores. That's all I've accomplished in life, and look at what you've done with all the stuff you've built. You've got something you can show them and they can have.' "
Lifferth said that after Dennis asked him to build the cars, he came up with a design with a classic look that is engineered for thrift and ease.
To cut out the body and the wheels, he uses tools he has accumulated over the years. He also stamps the number of the car on the back for the license plate and stamps his name on the radiator at the front of each car.
It takes about 45 minutes per car and costs about 75 cents, all of which he donates.
Over his mantel, Lifferth has a collage of pictures of children from around the world playing with his toy cars. Dennis gathered the pictures of the children from orphanages in Argentina, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Navajo Nation.
"I don't need anything in life. I've got everything I need, but that (the collage) was worth its weight in gold, and so neat, because here I've been making all these and sending them out -- last time I gave them to church services, I gave them 650 cars -- and I have no idea where they went," Lifferth said.
"They say they send them out around the world. What does that mean? This way, I can see somebody playing with them, and they're not just waiting in a box in some warehouse."
Lifferth began his hands-on career drawing house plans and worked his way into construction loans. As he built his family of five kids, he worked his way up, eventually retiring as vice president of First Federal Bank, all the while still building things as a hobby.
Now he uses oxygen and a walker to get around, but said he still has plenty of use left in his hands.
"My wife died four years ago, and I live alone. Why sit here and feel bad for yourself? I've got all those tools down there," he said.
"Why don't you get busy and do something worthwhile? So I do something worthwhile. And these little kids, from what I've been told, particularly in these nations where they've distributed these, they get remarks back from little kids that it's the only toy of their own they've ever had in their life."
Besides making toys, keeping up his village, building his toy cars and taking care of his house, Lifferth presides over a large family.
He now has 27 grandchildren and 60 great-grandchildren, most whom own one of the cars he has made.
He keeps track of his family tree in -- what else? -- a photo bus he built that shows each of his children, their spouses, his grandkids and great-grandkids on cleverly hinged doors that swing out.
Lifferth said although he has slowed down production lately because of health issues, he will keep making cars as long as he's feeling good.
And he will keep donating them and giving them out.
"When Halloween came along, I gave out cars. When Christmas comes along, I give out little cars to people. Last week, I had 15 to 18 kids here from the 11-year-old Cub Scouts to look at my village and look at the cars.
"I asked a couple, 'Do you want some?' They said, 'Can we?' I ended up giving away 13. I'm just giving them out to anyone who wants one."