Aero Sculptors: A Day At Varis
Aero Masters

Ever wondered where those glossy aero parts that wear the Varis logo come from? Well, so did I, which is why a couple of days ago I took a drive down to a little town between Kanagawa-ken and Yamanashi-ken.

Surrounded by nothing but tranquil green mountains is a small, nondescript workshop where the team at Varis churns out aero parts for a variety of Japanese and European cars. Everything is done in-house, from the full-scale clay modelling, all the way to the finished items. And the Yahagi family behind Varis allowed us to see it all…


Just getting to the Varis factory took me through some tiny mountain passes that were so narrow that I began to doubt if I had entered the correct location into Google Maps! It’s actually the same place where Varis started 30-odd years ago. Ironically, at one point the company moved its operations to Hachioji City, but as production got bigger and larger pieces were being produced, Varis returned to its rural roots.


It’s a pretty cool location, and one that provides a much more relaxed working environment than the hustle and bustle of Japanese cities.


After a quick chat with the Yahagi brothers, I was given a full tour of the facility to see how it all works.


Being a regular business day meant that I had to stay out of the way of everyone as they went about their tasks. Outside the building workers were stacking massive Varis-branded boxes that contained either bumpers or bonnets, ready to picked up at the end of the day by the Takyubin truck (the Japanese version of UPS/Fedex).


Varis employs the tried and tested 1:1 scale modeling method where clay is laid onto a car’s body and then hand-shaped to create the required design. In the final step moulds are taken to allow mass production of the aero parts. At the time of my visit the team had just begun working on this current generation BMW Z4. The forthcoming VRS widebody kit will be unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon this coming January.


That evening Varis were also expecting delivery of the new-generation Impreza, for which a new line of parts will also be making a debut at TAS. That car is scheduled to be parked alongside Varis’s current GVB Impreza at the Makuhari Messe, which will soon be sporting an even more aggressive kit.


The moulds themselves are manufactured from FRP (fiber-reinforced plastic), and once created from the clay-shaped pieces are cleaned up and sent to be painted in the small spray booth at the side of the workshop. Seeing as the moulds will be used many times over they are constructed with multiple layer of FRP to ensure rigidity and durability.


All of Varis’s moulds are kept in a covered area in the back of the workshop, ready to be pulled out and prepped once orders for specific parts come in.


Here is the two-piece mould required to produces Varis’s signature GT wing. Once the special blue paint has dried to form a smooth surface, the work of layering sheets of carbon fiber can begin.


Before moulds are used and reused, however, checks and prep work needs to be done to ensure the surface is smooth and free from defects.


On top of this, a layer of wax is laid down so that once that everything has dried out the part can be pulled away form the mould easily and without any damage.


It’s then over to the rolls of glass fiber. The required shapes and lengths needed for the production of each specific part are cut here.


There are multiple rolls with different thicknesses; which grade is used is dependent on the specific part – or certain area of the part. Thicker fiber is stronger, but it’s also heavier.

The Real Works Starts Now

The process begins by soaking the pieces of fiber with pre-mixed resin, making it all soft and malleable, and easy to be pushed into every nook and cranny. To help things along a roller brush is used to distribute the resin across the piece.


Of course, all work must be meticulously made by hand. It takes years of experience to achieve the results that Varis demands.


A special tool with a coiled metal cylindrical section, sort of like a roller brush but without the bristles, is used to help distribute the resin uniformly across each piece of fiber. This is to make sure that it’s absorbed, and everything adheres to the surface of the mould without any air bubbles, creases or other imperfections.


Depending on what’s being created, carbon fiber sheets are added into the construction at this point, and usually mated to an underlying section of glass fiber. The result is what is often referred to as wet carbon. This is because the carbon fabric itself is mated to the necessary resin to initiate a chemical reaction that will allow it to dry and solidify. No vacuum-sealed bags or autoclaves are used in this method.


Varis has been using this thick weave type of carbon for years now. It’s a very strong material and usually used on sections that need to be especially strong, such as diffusers and the undersides of bonnets.


As Yahagi-san shows, they keep a big roll of the stuff as it’s become a very popular request.


The most difficult and intricate laying jobs are taken care of by this man. His skill and experience make him the go-to guy for the most complex of pieces, such as the front lip spoiler/diffuser that he is working on this image. The sharp point of the front section doesn’t allow much room to work in and ensure that the FRP and carbon follows the shape of the mould.


Here’s carbon fiber piece with the carbon section being the first to be laid down and then covered up with a thin layer of glass fiber. The finished item will not only be stronger than an FRP-only part, but also lighter.


Remember the mould for the GT wing? Well, there are the carbon fiber wing stays that will go along with it. This is half of the piece, which when dry will be mated to its other half and bonded in place to form the complete part.


This much larger carbon fiber piece is a R35 GT-R trunk lid. Once dried it will be removed from its mould with the help of those rather large screwdrivers. There may well be wax in between the piece and mould, but it takes a lot of force to pry the two apart.


Once each FRP or CFRP part is complete, it’s sent next door to the prep room.


It’s here where all the casting residue is removed and parts that require joining are bonded together ahead of the finishing process.

Final Touches

Like every step of the process at Varis, finishing is laboriously done by hand. Here, it comes with lots of sanding and polishing.


Carbon fiber takes the most time to finish, which is another reason why these pieces are more expensive than their simple FRP counterparts. Using a special abrasive paste, the dry resin that has formed a glass-like clear surface against the carbon sheet is polished.


If you don’t like the shiny finish you can always opt for a matte surface, which is achieved in pretty much the same way up until the polishing stage. Once the surface is spotless and mirror-like, a special top coat which has a chemical reaction with the underlying resin is applied, resulting in a satin-like finish. Very nice!


Here’s another set of wing stays in the final stages. The surface along the join line is being sanded down to follow the blade-like contour of the edges.


Once the sander has done its work it’s over to the polishing pads which are used with different type of compounds to cut through light scratches and achieve the glossiest possible finish.


It takes a lot of patience to get the required result.


Other parts like this FRP bumper for a ZN6/ZC6 are given a top gel-coat which provides a smooth white exterior surface. Most of the post-production prep work, however, happens on the reverse-side where mounting brackets need to be fitted along with grills for central or side intakes.


The grilles are held in place with these flexible fixings, glued onto the backside of the FRP piece.


Once these last few processes are taken care of, each part gets stacked, catalogued, and given an order tag.


After being placed into a protective plastic bag each part is then taken into the packing room.


Here, every finished item is quality inspected, cleaned and then appropriately wrapped up in bubble wrap before being dropped into one of those big brown boxes aero goodies always arrive in.


These are, by far, the most fun type of posts that we at Speedhunters like to put together. We’d like to thank all the guys at Varis for allowing us into their workshop and showing us the meticulous process behind each of the part that they create.

But that’s not quite it from Varis… While we were there I took a closer look at a pair of their latest demo cars, so you can expect to see detailed features on each of those coming up shortly.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino

Other Varis related posts on Speedhunters



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Ive waited forever to read this post ever since the teaser on instagram! Ive currently got a bumper on order from then for my wrx, i wonder if it is in one of those pictures. I love these types of articels, keep them coming!


Varis once upon a time was making an incredible aero package for Evo6. I've seen a couple of Evos6 @ Tsukuba having that package. Is there any possibility to still have it in stock?

Here it is.


that's pretty cool


They just posted a teaser image of the new STi kit on their facebook.


I love this article and it's very interesting how they do their parts. What a great look into Varis. Great article as always Dino!


No gloves and no masks. Fuck that!


Dino....YOU ARE AWESOME!! I don't know if i will ever in my life go to even half of the places you have been to BUT when i read your articles, i light up. 
I love how this amazing company that makes bad ass body kits is so modest at the same time. i always assumed that Varis was a company with a huge facility and all that but in reality they are just a small set up. NO EGO NO BS JUST AWESOMENESS!!



I've been reading SpeedHunters since 2008. This is by far one of the best articles ever published. The detail, the pics and the fact that Varis actually allowed it all to happen is amazing.
Great job Dino!!
The HondaGeek


HondaGeek Glad to be of service :)


HondaGeek Glad to be of service :)


@tom Thanks man, and yes totally agree with you, Japanese companies always surprise as they can create so much from so little at times. Just a bunch of very good people working hard :)


tokuku Yep saw that too :)


GregoryS They won't have the parts in stock but they can surely get the moulds out and make you some more :)


CodyRinaudo Probably was the one I shot haha


A few minor but important points to clear up confusion if you're learning about composite construction (sorry Dino):
Most resins used in composites don't dry, instead they cure.  It's a chemical reaction between two components that creates a polymer plastic in the end.  This is not the same as solvents evaporating from something like paint when it dries.  It may have got lost in translation, I don't know.

FRP is a catch-all term for all fiber reinforced plastics.  This includes the common players like fiberglass, carbon, Kevlar (aramid), etc.  Carbon fiber is used to make FRP (CFRP specifically).  Fiberglass is also used to make FRP (GFRP specifically).  FRP is the finished product made with a fiber and a plastic, but is not the fiber itself.

Wet layup carbon fiber (or "wet carbon", if you use names from the automotive aftermarket) is very commonly used with vacuum bags and autoclaves.  Pre-preg carbon fiber (called "dry carbon" if you use names from the automotive aftermarket) usually MUST use vacuum bags and often autoclaves.  I'm surprised that Varis isn't at least using vacuum bag processes for many of their wet layup carbon parts.  Big improvements in strength to weight.


I had a two week visit to Japan this summer. Its safe to say I miss so much more than I thought I could! It was awesome. And incredible stories like this only make me want to move there more! The dedication to what they do is amazing, well done.


SmithG23 It's a pretty special and unique place, yes :)

Varis North America

GregoryS Aboslutely. Varis is distributed internationally by Bulletproof Automotive and that kit is still a production item (they still have the molds to make it for you). Email to have it made for you.


Always love these workshop feature, especially from Japan one.


I sorta imagined them..... bigger... like much bigger


craftsmanship! You truly do get what you pay for here and its top quality stuff.


My arms itch just reading this story. :)


I've been a fan of Varis for a long time now. It's good to know that they are a small and humble operation with a bit of character still!


Amazing article. Seeing the handmade aspect to such a large aero company is pretty mind blowing.


Thanks for this post. great to see how it's done. It's kinda fun some of the highest Quality Aero parts i've had in my Hands so far come somewhere from a backyard in the japanese outskirts. You'd expect som high-end cleanroom-style warehouse-sized Workshop somewhere in the industry-area of Yokohama or something like that. Makes the parts even cooler in my opinion. Real handcrafted stuff :)


Very cool. I agree, these are among the best type of posts on the site. Looks like you had a fun day Dino!

Gianluca FairladyZ

KeithCharvonia  Oh yeah same here...!  When you get back the evening, even after 30 mins of shower, it still itches when you go to sleep... lol :D production of FRP parts has a special "feeling"...


Hey Dino, your articles just want me to get to japan more and more, though still trying to teach myself the language before I go. Do you know if the compounds used in the finishing process are the same as 2K paint, ie flatten back with 1200 etc then polish with a cutting compund followed by a polishing 'wax'? As always, great article, Thanks

Gianluca FairladyZ

Fantastico...;) Now we know who makes these beautiful parts. As always, ottimo lavoro!

Gianluca FairladyZ

GregoryS  Damn that Evo looks sharp!


Really nice article, I've always wondered what it takes to make such parts.


It's very cool to these these parts all handcrafted and even cooler that people are still prepared to pay for quality over mass produced crap. Great article Dino, made me smile.


speedhunters_dino GregoryS That's sounds really great. Will i have to sent them an e-mail right?

Thanks Dino.


What an awesome story to read. A pleasure!


Amazing, such a pleasure reading these type of stories. It's great to watch excellent products, such as Varis, being produced step by step with such high level of craftsmanship. Thank for this story and keep it up!




ModGuy The techniques and products for finishing composites with a gel coat are very similar to paint, yes.  Polyester resins sand and polish very well, and are generally much harder than paint so the process can be more forgiving.  Many of the families of epoxy resins don't take very well to polishing at all though, so it helps to know what type of resin was used to make your parts.  Many composite parts, especially cosmetic carbon parts, are coated with automotive clearcoat for ease of care and UV protection, so they can obviously be cared for the same way as the rest of your paintwork.


@Karl_B Thanks and will do!!


@Scotty Thanks Scotty-san!


HarryK So did I before I went there, very glad I finally did!


Gianluca FairladyZ Grazie Gianluca!


@Fabrik8 ModGuy Very informative @Fabrik8 All I was told was it was a gel coat, no specifics but nice to know we have readers with so much knowledge. The carbon however they did say it's just the resin they polish. Do you know what it is they spray over to get the matte finish? My favorite for sure


RyanGates Sure did, don't miss the feature cars:)


@JDMjunkies_ch Sure does! True JDM stuff right here :)


Gianluca FairladyZ KeithCharvonia lol


@Kart Works Thx!


Regarding the type of fiberglass they are using, I guess they use a polyester resin, and if I'm not wrong, this type of resin can not be used with vacuum.
They should use epoxy resin, it would be more expensive, but the parts would be stronger and lighter, even without vacuum.


Dino,does Varis parts get modeled in CFD before they are produced??
How do they test the functional aspect of their parts??
Using engineering know how and common sense??
A Voltex facility tour would be cool too :)


Awesome skills, but I can not imagine working resin and fiberglass without any protection... This guy is ruining his health !


That was a interesting and great story to read, but a follow up one with a interview of the owner on things would be cool as well.


@Fabrik8 "I'm surprised that Varis isn't at least using vacuum bag processes for many of their wet layup carbon parts.  Big improvements in strength to weight."

That was my first thought when I happened upon that part of the article, they're definitely robbing themselves of some improvements. 

I also expected to see some honeycomb use.

Great article Dino! Very informative.

JMax Paint Garage LLC

Ever wondered why JDM Aero is expensive but of such great quality? The answer is in this article. Hand. Made. To perfection.

That's how I like things - and how I do my own parts. I <3 Varis!


Visited Omori Factory in August and saw this baby in person <3


Twintip31 Polyester (both isopthalic and orthopthalic) are widely sued for vacuum bagging.  It doesn't always make sense to take the effort and cost of vac bagging for a resin system that doesn't offer the physical properties of an epoxy system, but it's still a great way to remove excess resin and consolidate the reinforcement plies.
Epoxy doesn't make things lighter, it weighs pretty much the same as polyester resins.  It's the different (stronger) types of reinforcements that are usually used with epoxy that can make parts lighter because the parts are thinner for the same overall strength/stiffness/etc.  Vac bagging improves that even more, as you already know.


@Shin Honeycomb is not really well suited to parts like that, because of the open cell structure.  Open honeycomb cells like to fill with resin in wet layup processes, which is a problem for weight as you can imagine.  There are ways to get around that, but generally sheet foams are used as a core material instead, or even honeycomb with foam-filled cells to prevent drainage (yes, that actually exists).


@Shin Honeycomb is not really well suited to parts like that, because of the open cell structure.  Open honeycomb cells like to fill with resin in wet layup processes, which is a problem for weight as you can imagine.  There are ways to get around that, but generally sheet foams are used as a core material instead, or even honeycomb with foam-filled cells to prevent drainage (yes, that actually exists).


speedhunters_dino Most gel coats for use with polyester resins are also polyester-based, including the tooling gelcoat used on the molds, so we can infer that's what they're using.  The carbon parts are probably not gel coated or use a clear gelcoat, which is also pretty common.  I'm guessing that the matte finish they spray is either an automotive matte clearcoat or is a special matte composite coating like BascoClear 2C.  Yeah, I'm a bit of a geek.


Gianluca FairladyZ GregoryS Yes, that Evo made great appearances the last years in Tsukuba circuit.
One of my all time favourites!


@Varis North America GregoryS Thanks a lot guys. I'm going to search it during the week.
Thank you!


Nice article. Cool see them wet laying. I have always loved their styling and I was glad to read the article.

Only two things I would mention are: 

"The result is what is often referred to as wet carbon. This is because the carbon fabric itself is mated to the necessary resin to initiate a chemical reaction that will allow it to dry and solidify."

All forms of composite manufacturing includes carbon or fabric interacting with resin: vacuum bagging, infusion and prepreg could fit within this definition. I think a better way of describing it or industry explanation of wet carbon or a wet layup is a hand layup where there will be excess resin left in the laminate because it does not have the benefit of a vacuum assisted cure which would remove the added resin (vacuum bagging, infusion, or prepreg). So a wet layup could be described as an open air layup or non vacuum assisted layup.

The other thing that I would mention about the weight and strength of the part. One layer of carbon surrounded by fiberglass is not going to give the part properties of a full 100% carbon fiber part. It will still have the properties of a fiberglass part. That is just the reality because 2-3 layers of fiberglass with 1 layer of carbon placed in the stack- is essentially a fiberglass part.


I've always wondered whether I can make my own carbon fiber part. Turns out that I can. Thank you for the article.


That "special paint" is called Gel-Coat. Not paint at all actually.


Wow that's insane,a serious amount of work goes into making that and you wouldn't even think of it! Very talented


I had wondered if carbon fibre bits could me made without putting them in an oven,this has answered my question.Every days a school day.


wow.  sure looked like a fun and educational trip.  didn't know that they used a coating which reacts with the resin to make a matte finish - thought they just skipped the polishing step or something.


@Fabrik8 speedhunters_dino
Agree with Fabrik8, most likely a matting agent or  a satin clear being sprayed, but as Fabrik8 has touched on, pre preg usually has a matte/satin sheen due to the reduced amount of resin required in its manufacture.


What an amazing article!


turbom Give it a go man, go to your local place and get a sheet + resin. Remember it's all in the prep :)


@Fabrik8 Twintip31 epoxy has a higher tensile strength versus polyester or vinlyester because of its slower cure time. Vinlyester and polyesters which cure rapidly are more brittle, so you will have a brittler part versus if epoxy was used. The faster something cures, the more brittle it will be. Vacuuming would just remove all excess resin in an attempt to get to the perfect 60/40 ratio of fabric to resin, which will make a stronger and lighter part versus a resin rich part.


@Fabrik8 Twintip31 epoxy has a higher tensile strength versus polyester or vinlyester because of its slower cure time. Vinlyester and polyesters which cure rapidly are more brittle, so you will have a brittler part versus if epoxy was used. The faster something cures, the more brittle it will be. Vacuuming would just remove all excess resin in an attempt to get to the perfect 60/40 ratio of fabric to resin, which will make a stronger and lighter part versus a resin rich part.


Great article, gave me some real inspiration, and I'm now in the process of making my own carbon fibre part :)


nugundam93 Real dry carbon is done the way you explained. This is pretend dry carbon look by using a flat clear coat.


Real dry carbon is put into the mold dry and either infused or is pre-impregnsted carbon fiber where the epoxy is already inside of the carbon. In both cases vacuum is used in the curing process. This is wet laid carbon.