Inside Danny "The Count" Koker's Favorite Auto Restorations and Builds
If you are a vintage car and bike enthusiast or just a reality television junkie you probably know who Danny "The Count" Koker is. As the proprietor of Count's Kustoms, a Las Vegas-based repair and restoration shop (specifically for cars and motorcycles), Koker has become a household name with the help of reality TV. After continually appearing on History Channel's "Pawn Stars" as their motorcycle and auto expert, Koker was given his own show called "Counting Cars" (Season Two started April 9) in which he and his team obsessively go after classic and vintage cars on the glitzy streets of Vegas, sometimes even flagging strangers down to barter a sale.
Considering it runs in his family (who worked for Ford), it should come as no surprise that for as long as Danny Koker can remember, he's been in love with cars and bikes. "I don't know how far back [the] memories go, but I have been told by my family that ever since I could talk, it has been about cars and bikes." What may surprise you about the tall tattooed car enthusiast is that as a child he traveled the world singing Christian gospel music in a family band called Rex Humbard Singers.
A self-professed "horror movie freak," Koker broke possible expectations set by his musical upbringing and went on to host a local Vegas late-night horror movie program, playing an Elvis-loving vampire named The Count. "That show ran for ten years [while] behind the scenes I was building my business and [since] people around Vegas knew who I was, we called the company Count's Customs."
A dealer of custom hot rods and choppers, Count's Customs is full of people who genuinely love what they do, each living and breathing bikes and cars. With society's ever-growing fascination with reality TV, Koker and his gang on "Counting Cars" fit in perfectly with their goofy good times and hardworking business minds. The fact of the matter is, they're fun to watch, especially for machine geeks who love watching people build from the ground up with their hands alone.
Personally, my favorite scenes are those in which Koker goes after complete strangers, chasing them down when he sees a car or bike that he wants models from the 60's into the early 70's being his favorite. "Nine times out of ten, I will be driving a vehicle that shows that I'm a car or bike guy. There is kind of this unspoken connection between car guys. If you are driving and they see you driving something cool and you see they are driving something cool, they know what's up," says Koker. While most react pretty positively to the glowing attention, others get downright freaked out, and sometimes get angry or paranoid their car is in danger of theft, refusing to pull over.
Of all the builds he's done, one of Koker's most challenging happened during the show's first season, Barry White's Studs IV Port. "It was mainly a challenging restoration and build because of the intricate parts needed for the proper restoration. They aren't the kind that you can just find in a junk yard or call somebody up for. If you can't find them, you have to make it."
With over 50 restored cars and motorcycles in his personal collection, Koker definitely knows his stuff, even offering tours of his shop's showroom where many of his models are on display. If you plan on stopping by and wonder if he'll be in the shop while the cameras aren't rolling, there's a good chance he will be. As popular as "Counting Cars" is, Koker tries his best to stay just as involved in the shop as he was prior to the show. "After hours, when we are done, I will spend a few hours with no one in this place getting my hands dirty. I am here at the shop 100 percent of the time," he ensures. "When we are not shooting, that is when I can really get busy." Bringing a 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Jota to his shop would also be a great way to make a deal, since it's currently his dream, money's no option, auto.
At the helm of a successful shop and TV show, Koker definitely has his hands full but for someone who is actually passionate about his line of work, his busy schedule doesn't seem to be a burden. From turning a beat up '68 Mustang Fastback into a beautiful replica of Steve McQueen's car in "Bullitt" to helping a paralyzed man get back on a bike, "Counting Cars" may initially draw you in with grease and metal but Koker and his team lock you in with their genuine compassion and love for the game.
"Counting Cars" airs on the History Channel Tuesdays at 9/8C.