Runner-up: Lum’s Auto Center, Warrenton
Honorable mention: Box K Auto Repair, Long Beach, Wash.
Jim Varner is known as a diagnostician of automotive infirmities, and his garage at Miles Crossing in Astoria is a Mayo Clinic for vehicles. Indeed, one of his customers goes so far as to label him “the car whisperer.”
It seems that Varner thrives because his customers do not feel the need to look for second and third opinions.
One’s first impression upon entering the garage, unlikely as it sounds, is cleanliness. Rows of parts stand neatly on shelves above immaculate, shining floors. On the lifts you’ll find everything from commercial trucks to hot rods (Varner and his son and daughter drag race) and classics under restoration.
Varner says the secret to his success is that “I hire people who are better mechanics than I am.”
That may be, but another reason may be that the guy is just so darn cheerful. He tells you it’s an engine rebuild in such an affable way that you think, “Wow, I thought it was something serious.” No wonder Varner wins the Readers’ Choice award year after year after year.