“When you literally spend your entire life – starting out as a hobby and evolving it into an actual business – it’s really a self-taught type of thing,” says Danny Koker of his automotive proclivities. He grew up in Ohio but would spend a lot of time with relatives in Detroit, an experience that would infuse him with the love of cars from before he could even talk.
Today, he’s a successful business owner, a rock and roll frontman for his own band, a bar owner, a restaurant owner, a recording studio owner, and one of the most recognizable faces on TV. His show, Counting Cars, is a reality show where cars come in looking beat and leave looking neat!
He does it all for the love of cars. In fact, everything he does is out of love, it seems. He’s a very passionate man and his love for cars permeates our living rooms as we watch him and his crew slave away to pump custom rides out the door, Danny style.
It’s a very unique style, too; he’s a theme builder, you could say. As a fan of vampires, everything in his shop has a hint of darkness molded into every corner. His personal collection of cars is impressive and he’s only looking to grow it. With such a resume of achievements, it’s understandable that he’d gain national acclaim eventually…and once he did, nothing could stop him.
But what’s it REALLY like behind the gates of Count’s Kustoms? What did the cameras miss? As it would turn out, plenty of things, despite their constant filming.
20 The Vanishing Scott
The law of equilibrium states that a void will naturally work to fill itself with whatever’s around it. In the case of Scott Jones, the void was himself. He’s been on Counting Cars since the beginning and has been a mainstay of the shop forever. One day, without prior notice, he would just be gone. Rumors of embezzlement were just as valid as theories of a homesick Scott. All we know is that nobody’s saying anything and it’s highly unlikely for a reality show to keep a lid on anything unless legally obligated to.
19 The Vanishing Trailer
Although not completely void of nefarious activity, the set of Counting Cars definitely does have its share of crime. National acclaim can’t come without a downside and Roli Szabo would find out just how low that side could get. His trailer would be ripped off in the parking lot of a Mango’s Beach Bar while he was inside. The thieves knew exactly who they were targeting, too. It’s kind of hard not to make the connection with Roli’s name and face being blasted across the side of it. Much of his detailing supplies and equipment were inside it at the time, making the theft sting that much more.
18 The Vanishing $75,000
Running a business isn’t easy; profit margins are always at risk, even in good times. No matter how big business does grow, $75,000 is never a small sum of money—but that’s exactly what would be embezzled by former employee Joseph Frontiera. There are always two sides to the story but it’s hard to maintain innocence when, in the midst of cash controversy like that, you pull up in a new Land Rover. The mismanagement of money by Frontiera also led to almost $20,000 in penalties due to tax code violations. Whatever he did gain with the money wasn’t anything compared to what Count lost as a result of said missing money.
17 The Bad Reviews Will Make You Laugh
People are silly. We all know that. We all know that because we are not like them. But if you go sifting through the reviews of the Count’s establishments, you’ll find some negative reviews that make you question the reviewer much more than the reviewed establishment. People will go to his bar and complain that the live music is too loud...and that they don’t serve salad. For one, it’s a bar. And for two…it’s a bar with a stage. One thing there should be plenty of is noise. One thing there should be none of? (The answer is at the very bottom.)
16 His Crown Jewel Lambo Comes From The 1980s
Now, before we start bagging on the 80s, it should be known that the 80s were just a lost cause—for cars anyway. Nearly everything that rolled off an assembly line was ugly, underpowered, plagued with enough emission devices to choke out a dump truck, and ugly. (Did we mention that already?) The 80s also happen to be the decade they made Danny’s crown-jewel Lamborghini Countach 5000S. It sounds awesome when you hear him talk about it, but it’s still not his Miura, the one car that’s eluded him for decades. For a man with over 50 cars, it’s a little underwhelming as a centerpiece.
15 He Can Never Be Wrong
People love to point this one out at every opportunity they get. And let’s face it, he’s a national television personality in the automotive business so he should know everything, right? It’s easy for us to judge, sitting in front of the TV with a search engine in our hands, ready to point out everything that’s not 100% factually accurate. But Danny is just a single cog in the massive machinery that is the production of his show and businesses. He doesn’t always have the final word and even in the cases that he does, errors are a part of human nature. If we put ourselves on TV all the time, we probably couldn’t expect much better.
14 Like Father, Like Son
The saying has been hammered into our heads for as long as we can remember and when we get old enough, most of the time, we realize it’s pretty on point. Daniel Koker Sr. (1933–2008) was a big part of the Count’s life. They shared a lot of the same interests and Danny Jr. would grow up to parallel his father’s footsteps in more than just one walk of life. Koker Sr. was just about everything music; musician, singer, composer, and conductor—he did it all. He also loved cars, a love which was undoubtedly passed to his son.
13 Political Savage
One polarizing aspect of the Count is his political beliefs; he’s a supporter of The Donald in a time when the very phrase can destroy a business. Koker doesn’t care what anyone thinks and he stays true to his guns. Regardless of who you support, it’s crystal clear that Danny’s moral compass does not easily deviate and it’s hard not to respect a guy like that. You don’t have to agree with him, but you can’t deny his steadfast conviction that obviously drives him. We’ll take consistency any day, over a “yes” man that gives us the comfortable answer.
12 He Keeps Questionable Company
The world may seem like a big place, but circles are indeed small—especially when you’re a big face, like Koker. Since he’s also a music guy, it would make sense to know some heads in the music industry, which he does. One of these figures, however, rubs the team the wrong way…and they aren’t shy about inviting him over for some “words.” His name is Vince Neil; and if you don’t know about Vince Neil, he has a rap sheet longer than that race track you see him standing on. The list is too long to catalog here, but the Motley Crue singer can’t seem to drive sober or keep his hands off people.
11 Doc Duggan Got Punked
They don’t call him the “Doc” for no reason. He’s the guy you call when you need a brain to do something. He may not be the best wrench-turner, but he’s second-to-none in the tech department. He’s also a nationally recognized figure. When you combine those two elements, you’re just asking for unwanted attention; the assumption is that his home is brimming with gadgets and valuable contraptions. Whether this is true or not, Doc would come home to find an empty house and a clean dishwasher. On the bright side, at least they picked up after themselves.
10 It Takes A Lot More Than You See
The production is massive for a show like this. It’s a reality show so it’s ok if you see a random microphone guy here and there or another camera in the shot. (Those shots are actually purposefully angled so you DO see the other cameras.) What the show doesn’t give you a feel for is the intrusion that was actually required to get those shots: multiple cameras hovered constantly throughout the shop, constantly filming from morning until night. To make this simple: five cameras filming eight hours a day would produce 40 hours of footage by the end of that day, 200 hours by the end of the week, and 800 hours by the end of the month.
9 Koker Is A Frontman Everywhere He Goes
Danny does cars; check. Danny does bikes; check. Danny does custom restorations, bodywork, and paint; check. Danny does…lead singing? Check! That’s right! Your favorite blood-sucking car modifier is actually the lead singer of his band, Count’s 77. It’s a rock band that lets Danny get his aggressions out on a different kind of microphone. Maybe that’s why the stress of constant filming and running a business doesn’t seem to get to him—he has a good outlet. Whether you like his singing or not, you gotta give it to him for doing what he loves. The dude puts heart into it, and you can tell this is what he loves to do.
8 Humble Beginnings
Danny was born in Akron, Ohio, but he spent a lot of time in Detroit with relatives. He’s been talking about cars for just about as long as he’s been talking, somehow always gravitating to these four-wheeled machines of ours. “The only…schooling I had was what you could get in high school, and that’s your basic shop class and automotive class,” he says. “Other than that, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to put it back together.” (American Profile.) His launch, however, would need a catalyst. That catalyst would come in the form of associations with members of Pawn Stars, who would bring Koker on as their car expert. It was this initial foray into TV that would help launch his auto shop into the national spotlight.
7 He Supports Capitalism
Here’s one that had the potential to lose a lot of fan support and Danny could care less. He owns a bar and restaurant, a recording studio, the auto shop, and a tattoo shop; he’s an active member of the business community. Being such, there are many different standards he’s held to as a proprietor and he’s subject to a shafting of epic proportions depending on the business climate. With so much on the line, it’s only natural for him to be an outspoken GOP supporter—many business owners are. But while many are too shy to publicize their views, Danny is eager to do a Fox interview and talk about it.
6 His Dad’s Cars Are Invaluable To Him
Koker had a close relationship with his father, and you may have known that from watching the show. His dad was a major influencer in his life and the loss of his father was devastating for the multi-talented man. Danny couldn’t even touch his dad’s cars for the longest time after his passing. One of his favorite rides is 1947 Chevrolet COE flatbed. It was basically the tractor-trailer of the 1940s and they are super rare. It’s a truck that makes Danny feel like he’s “riding with dad” every time he drives it and it's a perfect flagship for Count’s Kustoms.
5 The Work Is Scary To Watch
Not scary in the sense you’re thinking of; the Count isn’t running around in his Saturday Fright Nights costume trying to bite people. But the very act of modifying cars tends to be a mystery to many folks. If you’re a car guy, this is all just another day at the shop; grinders tossing sparks across your face (with safety goggles on, of course), reciprocating saws tearing into sheet metal, hammers folding metal lips over…it’s a part of what we do. When somebody watches all this butchery without an understanding of it, it can seem like the car is in the process of being destroyed.
4 He’s A Gross Polluter (And Proud)
Only car guys will understand this one; if you don’t get it, you can’t really call yourself a car guy. Cars were built around internal combustion powerplants. For better or worse, that’s what it was. Danny embraces this past and all the NOx gas that comes along with it. When it comes to environmentalism, he feels it’s a political power move and if you were in his shoes, you would, too. There’s a lot he has to deal with behind the scenes (legal stuff we’ll never see), but Danny fights hard to keep our muscle cars rolling down the road and into the future.
3 Making Deals Isn’t Always Easy
Negotiating a deal on a car is never easy. It’s not like it’ll take an arm and a leg off of you but fielding emails, talking to window shoppers, and entertaining tire-kickers is all a part of the digging process we sometimes must endure just to find a buyer. You’d think that The Count can sell cars like nobody’s business but that’s not always the case. All it takes is one bad review to contaminate your reputation, be it true or otherwise. Being a national icon, everyone’s eyes are glued to his every move. Every time he makes any little mistake, there’s never a shortage of critics.
2 He Had A Horror Show
Those unfamiliar with the Koker legacy might only know him from his current venture; he’s managed to iron himself smoothly into the fabric of popular car culture, whether you’re a fan or not. And it doesn’t seem to matter what he does, because there’s something about him that people want to watch. Getting dressed up as a vampire may be a fun pastime, but it’s not exactly grown-up programming, especially not at 10 pm…in Las Vegas. Nonetheless, he got dressed up, put a plastic set of fangs in his mouth, and waived a cape around with the confidence of…well, a vampire.
1 Selling Cars Is Hard For Personal Reasons
They don’t call it Counting Cars just because it’s a witty vampire reference. (Actually, they do.) But, seriously, this dude has a car collection that’s on another level. It’s commonly known that he’s got more cars than you have unopened pieces of junk mail (like 50) but you may not know why? Any gearhead knows that a part of your heart and soul goes into a car, every time you work on it. When you work on pretty machines like the Count does, it’s not hard to see why he develops an emotional attachment to nearly everything he builds. We would too!
Sources: Screen Rant, Celebrity Facts, Speed Society, Las Vegas Review, and Kansas City Star.