Ness started down the custom path early, buying an old 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead over his wife's objections, then fabricating modifications in his California garage in the 1970s and going on to earn widespread acclaim as a bike builder. Eventually he opened his own shop in Dublin, California, specializing in custom builds, paint jobs, and parts but always pushing the boundaries with his custom fabrications and unique paintwork. Later on Ness began working with several motorcycle brands, most recently the now-defunct Victory Motorcycles, to design some of their limited-edition production models. The company that now bears his name, Arlen Ness Motorcycles, evolved from a custom shop to also developing custom parts for Harley-Davidson, Indian, and Victory motorcycles. He'd go on to influence an entire generation of customizers with his unique, one-of-a-kind creations, and the company opened a museum with some of Arlen's most famous designs at its Dublin headquarters. His custom builds became legendary and were seen in numerous shows and magazines, and even on TV, being featured on Biker Build-Off and Let It Ride.