Inventor & Founder

Don Varner

has been an integral part of the Hot Rod scene since before there was a Hot Rod scene. One needn’t look far to find the Varner name associated with some of the most famous (and infamous) custom cars in ‘Rodding history.

While guys like Barris and Von Dutch were breaking ground in Southern California, Don was in the Northwest helping to develop the Car Culture that lives on to this day. Although he would never say so himself, it was early in his career that Rod & Custom magazine proclaimed him “The Northwest Striping King”.

Although an industrial designer by trade, Don went on to an illustrious career in the custom car world. Designing and building his own Hot Rods and doing design work for folks like Bill Cushenberry, Steve Moal and Boyd Coddington. His portfolio includes a truly staggering variety of amazing creations that range from the futuristic bubble top Silhouette to the slammed Harley-Davidson Heritage Royalle.

This penchant for the unique came to a head when Don,with shop mate Ron Covelle, built the California Star and took top honors at the Oakland Roadster Show*. It would be an understatement to say there were a few people upset about California Star being named World’s Most Beautiful Roadster, but as you can see it was well earned. This non-traditional take on the 1927 Model-T paved the way for a profusion of radical custom machines and reminded the world what Hot Rodding was all about… Innovation!

We could go on and on dropping names and pointing to famous cars in which Don had a hand, but realistically nobody wants to read that. Instead, we encourage you to click on over to our photo galleries and get an eyeful for yourself. We update these regularly so please check back or just follow us on Instagram and they’ll come to you.

Back to the story, with a life devoted to so many inspired cars, it goes without saying that Don has put in time on the sweaty side of a sponge and chamois. It was though these years of elbow grease that Don’s innovative spirit kicked in and the Water Blade was born.

The idea of taking a squeegee to your paint job was considered crazy at the time, but Don was convinced it could be done. Months of testing and endless prototypes went into the Water Blade before the final T-Bar design was ready for production. Considering that Don has lived and breathed car culture his whole life, you probably won’t be surprised to learn the final design of the Water Blade came to him in a dream.

True story.


*Later to become known as the Grand National Roadster Show