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History Donn Varner: Striping King of the Northwest

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, May 21, 2020.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,332

    Jive-Bomber
    MODERATOR

    Jive-Bomber submitted a new blog post:

    Donn Varner: Striping King of the Northwest

    [​IMG]

    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
     
    HEMI32, warbird1, Stogy and 2 others like this.
  2. Right now, it appears that pinstriping is on a wane period. The hey-day of having 'licks" on your ride is not what it was for even back in the early2000's. Economy? Taste? Who knows?
    I am married to a striper and these days her art is personal and for a few friends.
    As mentioned the big names are passed or just not seen. Little Louie, McPeak, are names ones says 'oh yea, are they still around?' Magazines are gone, no room on a electronic page for something less than a hot car.
    It was a great run, hope it comes back.
     
  3. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,123

    Automotive Stud
    Member

    I've been wanting to get my roadster pinstriped since I finished it a few years ago. I'm having trouble finding someone talented and local enough to do the job.
     
    Stogy likes this.
  4. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,133

    sololobo
    Member

    I remember reading that Varner story, I was obsessed with striping and had several swords and one shot but couldn't get it done. Dutch, Jefferies, and Roth were all enjoying that California charisma and led the pack. We had a guy in Grand Island Ne. Bob Dent who could really lay it down. I have also met several lady stripers who were tops also, a gal named Hot Rod Jen is a superstar and can really do complicated and stunning designs. We now have a super talent in the Omaha area, Steve Gillette, he not only can stripe but understands how to cut and buff finish paint to a perfect shine. Thanx for posting the Varner story!
     
    Stogy and chryslerfan55 like this.

  5. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 6,625

    krylon32
    Alliance Vendor
    from Nebraska

    As a kid I remember reading about Varner and admiring his work. In this area a good striper is rare. The guy that striped many of my cars is about 80 and to my knowledge is at least slowing down. I had a 32 roadster striped by him about 10 years ago, over 400 louvers 2 color striped plus other striping. It broke my heart when I sold the car and the new buyer removed all the lines.
     
  6. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 5,144

    Marty Strode
    Member

    Didn't he come up with a silicone water blade, for drying cars ?
     
    HEMI32 and Stogy like this.
  7. pgan
    Joined: Apr 7, 2009
    Posts: 212

    pgan
    Member

    Donn Varner was a lot more than an excellent pinstriper. To start, I think he originally lived in Salinas (amid stripers Rod Powell and Andy Southard). Not sure on that. But he first built a thin-nose, much-flamed track T roadster (with Ron Covell?) very similar to the one Tom Prufer built in the pages of R&C in the early '70s. It might be the one Buttera and/or his daughter got. Then, for 1984 Oakland, he designed and built, with Covell, the very futuristic (and of course controversial) California Star "T" roadster, with a transverse, mid-mount, supercharged V6, which won the AMBR trophy. Donn was an avid hot rodder and a superb, exact pinstriper (better than Dutch), but he was a trained and schooled industrial/automotive designer by trade, and the striping was more of a sideline. Wish I had photos handy. I'm sure others will add some.
    Pat Ganahl
     
  8. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 5,144

    Marty Strode
    Member

    He built a double tube, space frame 29 RPU, with Jag suspension on both ends, and Hi Pro 289 and 4-speed. I had it here for some work, when John Corno owned it. Well engineered piece !
     
  9. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 16,839

    Stogy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    https://www.waterblade.com/us/don-varner/

    :rolleyes:...You are correct Marty, a link with history above. A very talented man with brush and more.

    The samples posted by @Jive-Bomber of the Helmet and other details are moving...again a very appreciated addition to adding an visual edge to a Hotrod/Custom.

    It also highlights that all involved in Hotrod bring different levels of expertise and style to the table...

    Obviously this field of Art has grown with the movement and faced modernization and changing trends but that hand pulled greatness is much appreciated and timeless...

    Thanks for sharing this great talent...
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  10. His F100. I'd like to see some more photos of this
    vxdys4e5mi6v35vtkyx44hz7y6nk7yxt.jpg
     
    stillrunners, HEMI32, Stogy and 3 others like this.
  11. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,263

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Donn moved from Salinas to San Jose in the '70s, had a shop in the Industrial complex in Santa Clara. The track T he built was bought from Roy Brizio, was the one with the Mazda Rotary engine. Donn tore the T apart, sold everything but the body, frame, and rear end at Turlock. He rebuilt it completely, used a Capri V6, and Ron Covell (also had a shop in the complex) shaped a racecar nose and aluminum hood.
    Lem Tolliver did the louvers in the top hood skin, but band sawed the center to a taper, right through the louvers! The front louver ended up 1" wide, then that row tapered back to the rearmost one, 3". Lem tigged every louver, filing them by hand...Art work.
    The car was finished with craftsmanship, we went on a Mothers Day run behind Donn's T, the noise from the Quickie was deafening.
    Donn said it was from the straight cut spur gears, but I said it was ring & pinion.
    Donn fixed it, but said it was time for another project.
    ...Enter the California Star!
    Last time I saw Donn, I was introducing him to Larry Blank at Allison BMW.
    Donn bought an 850 Coupe, the 12 cylinder 5 speed model...12 second car off the showroom floor.
     
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  12. brokedownbiker
    Joined: Jun 7, 2016
    Posts: 571

    brokedownbiker
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Today I'd think that the king these days would be Dave Austin in Snohomish, WA. He has striped a few of my cars- and most of the other cars in the area that I've seen. Everybody I know in the area uses him.
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  13. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,133

    sololobo
    Member

    Oh yeah, the great Jim Curren, the job on the roadster was so amazing, I cannot believe someone would remove it. But that is what makes each car be your own. We have a new star in the Omaha area that is a student of Jim's, Steve Gillette and he is awesome.
     
    chryslerfan55 and Stogy like this.
  14. Here's it is circa 1956 (in Oregon):

    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 circa 1956 (1).jpg
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 circa 1956 (2).jpg
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 circa 1956 (3).JPG
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 circa 1956 (4).JPG
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 at Bonneville.jpg

    ... and here it is circa 1958 (in Salinas, CA):

    Donn Varner's '56 Ford F-100 circa 1958.jpg
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 'Scallop Truck' card circa 1958.jpg
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 circa 1958 (1).jpg
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 circa 1958 (2).JPG
    Donn Varner's '56 F-100 circa 1958 (3).JPG
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  15. Donn painted Jack Synder's Chevy:

    Jack Snyder's Chevy with paint by Donn Varner (1).jpg
    Jack Snyder's Chevy with paint by Donn Varner (2).jpg
    Jack Snyder's Chevy with paint by Donn Varner (3).jpg
     
  16. As noted in @Jive-Bomber Jay's Blog: Rod Powell's '39 Chevy - striped by Donn Varner in 1958 (color 1).jpg Rod Powell's '39 Chevy - striped by Donn Varner in 1958 (color 2).jpg

    ... Varner stripped Rod (@RodP) Powell's '39 Chevy in 1958:

    Rod Powell's '39 Chevy - striped by Donn Varner in 1958 (1).jpg
    Rod Powell's '39 Chevy - striped by Donn Varner in 1958 (2).jpg
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
  17. A Donn Varner "work of art" hanging in @RodP's garage:

    Panel in Rod Powell's garage striped by Donn Varner (one continuous line).jpg
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  18. Donn flamed Don Hansen's '40 Ford Coupe:

    Don Hansen's '40 Ford with flames by Donn Varner.jpg
     
  19. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 16,839

    Stogy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Many Thanks to those sharing this mans Far-out adventures in Art and Graphics...Much appreciated...
     
  20. Donn also painted Greg Sargenti's '56 Chevy:

    Greg Sargenti's 1956 Chevy painted by Donn Varner.jpg
    Greg Sargenti's '56 Chevy painted by Donn Varner.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  21. Pat -

    Donn was originally from Eugene, Oregon ... but was stationed at Fort Ord in 1957 ... hence his move to Salinas, California [where he met Rod (@RodP) Powell & Andy (@AndySS) Southard Jr.].

    Note that Donn's "thin-nosed Track-T" was originally orange & white with twin Mazda rotary engines ... it was built circa 1975 by @lil' john Buttera ... for Andy Brizio.

    Donn bought it from the Brizio’s. He kept the body & the tubular frame and rebuilt the entire car ... swapping the dual Wankels with a dressed-up V-6 out of a Mercury Capri ... Ron Covell fabricated a new hood, nose & grille ... Lem Tolliver punched it full of louvers ... Rod (@RodP) Powell painted / flamed it ... and Varner showed it at the Oakland Roadster Show:

    Donn Varner's Track-T at Oakland.jpg

    You are correct that @lil' john bought it ... and gave it to his daughter Leigh to drive.

    Very "off-topic" for the H.A.M.B. ... but here's the '84 AMBR: AMBR 1984 - Don Varner ~ Ron Covell 'California Star'.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  22. In 1959, Donn collaborated with Bill Cushenberry on the design of the famous "EL MATADOR" 1940 Ford Custom:

    Bill Cushenberry's  'EL MATADOR' designed by Donn Varner (1).jpg
    Bill Cushenberry's  'EL MATADOR' designed by Donn Varner (2).jpg
    Bill Cushenberry's  'EL MATADOR' designed by Donn Varner (3).jpg
    images by Andy (@AndySS) Southard Jr.​
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  23. In 1962, Varner designed Cushenberry's "SILHOUETTE" bubble-top custom:

    Bill Cushenberry's  'SILHOUETTE' bubble-top custom - designed by Donn Varner (1).jpg

    ... which debuted at the 1963 Grand National (Oakland) Roadster Show:

    Bill Cushenberry's  'SILHOUETTE' bubble-top custom - designed by Donn Varner (2).jpg
    Bill Cushenberry's  'SILHOUETTE' bubble-top custom - designed by Donn Varner (3).jpg
     
  24. Here's Don Varner's '29 RPU ...

    Don Varner's '29 RPU at 1974 Oakland Roadster Show.jpg
    Setting up at the 1974 Grand National (Oakland) Roadster Show

    Don Varner's '29 RPU at 1974 San Jose Autorama (Andy Southard Jr.)jpg.jpg
    At the 1974 San Jose Autorama - photo by Andy (@AndySS) Southard Jr.
     
  25. Varner painted Dick Mendonca's (Candy Apple & Tangerine) '53 Ford:

    Dick Mendonca’s '53 Ford - painted Candy Apple & Tangerine by Donn Varner (1).jpg
    Dick Mendonca’s '53 Ford - painted Candy Apple & Tangerine by Donn Varner (6).jpg
    Dick Mendonca’s '53 Ford - painted Candy Apple & Tangerine by Donn Varner (7).jpg
    Dick Mendonca’s '53 Ford - painted Candy Apple & Tangerine by Donn Varner (8).jpg
    Dick Mendonca’s '53 Ford - painted Candy Apple & Tangerine by Donn Varner (5).jpg
     
  26. In 1955, Varner and his buddies took their Lakester to Bonneville:

    Donn Varner - Bonneville 1955 (1).JPG
    Donn Varner - Bonneville 1955 (2).JPG

    ... while there, Donn also striped a few race cars:

    Donn Varner - Bonneville 1955 (3).JPG
    Donn Varner - Bonneville 1955 (4).JPG

    ... and they had a little mishap on the way back to Eugene:

    Donn Varner - Bonneville 1955 - trailer lost wheel (1).JPG
    Donn Varner - Bonneville 1955 - trailer lost wheel (2).JPG
     

  27. Donn Varner - Striping King.JPG
    Donn Varner - "Striping King"
     
  28. BadgeZ28
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,064

    BadgeZ28
    Member
    from Oregon

    Sounds like he left Eugene before I got into the car scene there. The pinstriper I remember there from the early 1960's was Meryl Beebe
     
  29. Is he still alive? There is nothing about him on the net.
     
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  30. Yes ... Don Varner's current '40 Coupe (2017).JPG
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020

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