TV schedules are packed full of motoring shows these days, many of them makeover shows in which expert mechanics take broken-down rustbuckets and transform them into beautiful, sleek and sophisticated machines.
One of the most popular is Counting Cars, which follows the antics of Danny Koker and his crew at Count’s Kustoms, a vehicle restoration and customization company in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Koker and his team of mechanics clearly know what they’re doing with a vintage car, they seem to have more than a few issues getting along with each other – which is what makes the show such a success!
Counting Cars is actually a spin-off from a previous Las Vegas reality show, Pawn Stars, on which Koker made regular guest appearances to help the team buy and sell retro and high-end vehicles. He was such a hit that the History Channel decided to give him a show of his own.
While Koker and the boys clearly know their way around an engine and a chassis, the car renovations on the show don’t always go according to plan. While most of their projects end up looking amazing, there are more than a few which ended up looking worse than when they started!
Check out the list below to see some of the best restorations jobs from Counting Cars – as well as some of the customizations which missed the mark.
19 Karmann Ghia
Built by German auto company Volkswagen, the Karmann Ghia was a stunning early sports car, available as either a coupe or a cabriolet.
Built between 1955 and 1974, it was a 1962 model which caught the attention of the Counting Cars crew in the fourth season of the show.
The car was bought by Shannon Aikau, the bike shop manager at Count’s Kustoms, as an anniversary gift for his wife – but before he could hand it over, the Karmann Ghia needed some serious TLC both inside and out. The end result was a bright and colorful creation which still managed to retain the charm of the original 1960s styling.
18 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo was a two-door coupe which was in production between 1970 and 1988 and again between 1995 and 2007 – although all serious motoring aficionados accept that the best version of this particular vehicle was the one which was built in the early-1970s. That goes a long way towards explaining why Danny and the team were so excited when they got their hands on a Chevy Monte Carlo in Season 2 of Counting Cars, renovating a vehicle which had definitely seen better days, and giving it a very impressive makeover which still stayed faithful to the questionable style of the Seventies.
17 Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger is probably one of the most iconic American cars of all time; first built in 1964, it was one of the first muscle cars, though more recent models look more sedate than their forebears!
When the Counting Cars team took on a project to renovate a 1968 Dodge Charger, they knew that such a perfect car didn’t need too many bells and whistles to make it look great.
Instead, they fixed up the obvious blemishes, defects, and patches of rust, and gave it a simple and classic custom black paint job to finish off the Charger’s new look.
16 Chevrolet C/K
The pickup truck has been a common sight on American roads since motoring entrepreneur and innovator Henry Ford launched the very first Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body all the way back in 1925. The Chevy C/K may have a catchier name, but despite the more than sixty-year age difference between the two vehicles, they still have a lot in common. Although even Henry Ford himself would be impressed with the final result when the Counting Cars team did an amazing renovation job on a 1986 Chevy C/K in the third series if the show, first screened in August 2014.
15 Ford Rat Rod Pickup
Hot rods are a motoring phenomenon all of their own, and this very particular way of rebuilding and restyling older vehicles has given some well-loved rust buckets a new lease of life. Creating a hot rod is all about linear speed, and indeed many of the vehicles when finished are used in drag racing, although just as many are simply polished up for show. There were a number of hot rods which featured on Counting Cars over the years, but one of the most successful projects was a stunning Ford Hot Rod which looked unrecognizable after the team had worked their magic.
14 Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is one of the best-loved American cars, and Mustangs from the 1960s and 1970s are very popular with vintage car collectors. So it is hardly surprising that so many Ford Mustangs from this era have made an appearance on Counting Cars over the years. The 1967 Ford Mustang, which featured in the third series of the show was given a gorgeous orange and burnt sienna custom paint job, once Danny and the team had made the necessary improvements and renovations needed both to the bodywork and under the hood. Definitely, one Mustang restored to its former glory!
13 Dodge Coronet
The Dodge Coronet was first launched all the way back in 1949 as a full-size car, and was in production for ten years, before it was then relaunched as a mid-size vehicle in 1965, with the last Coronet rolling off the production line in 1976.
It is this second generation which gets vintage car lovers swooning, and the team at Counting Cars were no exception when they got the chance to renovate a classic 1970 Dodge Coronet in the first show of the fourth series in 2015.
After giving the vehicle an eye-catching paint job, the team also updated the interior with white leather seats and for a really classy finish.
12 Oldsmobile Cutlass
In the fourth season of Counting Cars, the team was asked by an owner to renovate his classic 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible, a stunning combination of muscle car and roadster. They don’t make them like that anymore! Despite a few quibbles over the cost, Danny and the team eventually agreed to create a modern take on a classic vehicle, maintaining the 1970s shift sticks, while adding modern radial tires to improve the both the car’s performance and look. Add a sophisticated custom paint job, and it is no wonder that this beauty made it onto the list of the best-restored cars from the TV show.
11 Buick Riviera
We’ve already seen a few Fords, a couple of Dodges, a Plymouth and an Oldsmobile on this list so far, but that does leave one classic American car maker so far unaccounted for- Buick.
Luckily, the Counting Cars got the chance to work on a Buick Riviera on the fourth season of the show – and they really went to town working on this quintessentially American vehicle.
Danny and the team made the most of that huge canvas to create a work of art on the hood, door panels, and trunk, as well as giving the interior of the Buick Riviera a makeover that no-one would ever forget.
10 Ford Mustang
Time for another Ford Mustang, which judging by the frequency of its appearance on this list is either the most collectible vintage car or the one which the Counting Cars team enjoyed working on the most – or maybe both! The 1966 Ford Mustang which featured in Season 2 of the show had actually been bought by Danny’s father when Danny was a child, so its renovation was a real labor of love for the team. In the end, the guys decided that less is more as far such a classic car goes, giving the 66 Mustang a simple white paint job, with the iconic blue stripes across the hood and roof.
9 Buick Riviera Part 2
Sometimes, the team at Counting Cars were asked to revamp a classic car for a special celebrity customer, and the 1965 Buick Riviera which needed a makeover in Season Four was just one such car.
It belonged to George Lynch, who may not be a household name, but if you’re into metal music, you will know him as the lead singer of the band, Dokken.
Naturally, given that Lynch is a heavy metal star, the team at Kount’s Customs, gave him a suitably dark makeover, with a custom black paint job, decorated with just a few stylish touches on the hood and a very traditional looking interior.
8 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Perhaps the most eye-catching makeover of any of the Counting Cars shows was the 1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 which the team took on in just the second episode ever of the show. The Chevy Camaro is what is known as a pony car, an affordable, compact, highly styled vehicle, and the Camaro itself was in production between 1966 and 2002, before being relaunched again by Chevrolet in 2009. The 1979 model which got a stunning makeover at Kount’s Customs left the lot with an amazing flame-inspired custom paint job that would be sure to turn heads, as well as some serious modifications under the hood to improve performance.
7 Ford Mustang GT Fastback
The final car on the list of the best-restored cars from Counting Cars is yet another gorgeous Ford Mustang, this time dating from 1968. This was actually a Ford Mustang GT Fastback, the very same car driven by the actor Steve McQueen in the iconic film Bullitt. This car featured in the very first episode of the show and was brought in by the crew from Pawn Stars, who needed their car experts at Kount’s Customs to give their new acquisition the once over. And Danny and the team did them proud, giving the famous set of wheels a shiny new paint job, as well as a brand new interior worthy of any Hollywood star.
6 Lincoln Continental
The Lincoln Continental is a beast of a car and one that has a fascinating history. Lincoln was first launched as a division of Ford, and the Continental was a luxury car created especially for Edsel Ford, son of Henry and President of the company his father created from 1919 to 1943.
The Lincoln Continental which the Counting Cars team got their hands on didn’t quite have that kind of pedigree, but it did date from 1978, just after the car had undergone an extensive remodeling and relaunch.
The team gave their Lincoln a delicious two-tone custom paint job of silver and maroon, with a matching luxurious maroon interior.
5 Vamp Rod
Not all of the projects on Counting Cars were as successful as the previous entries on this list. Some of the less than impressive makeovers might have been eye-catching, but that isn’t always a good thing! The Vamp Rod was a classic Hot Rod but given a Halloween twist; a jet black paint job with blood red details. While Hot Rods may be the epitome of cool, less is often more when it comes to creating these vehicles. The last thing you want to do is wipe any trace of the original classic car, as has happened with the overly-detailed Vamp Rod.
If a Halloween-themed Hot Rod isn’t creepy enough for you, then how about a car that even the Addams Family would think twice about driving?
Believe it or not, one of the episodes of Counting Cars saw the team restore an old hearse, giving it a powerful V8 engine which sucked out of the hood, and another black and red custom paint job; in case just black was a little too grim for a vehicle that used to be driven to funerals. While the owner was delighted with the end result, it’s not a restoration job that anyone could imagine Danny and the team being asked to take on too often.
3 Sparkles 2
To be fair, both the Vamp Rod and the restored hearse do at least fit with Danny Koker’s bad boy image, and the brand he has designed and developed for Kount’s Customs.
What is perhaps more unusual is seeing the team create a fun and funky dune buggy, christened "Sparkles 2," in Season Four of the show.
And yet the original dune buggy which bore the name did actually belong to Danny himself, who had been looking for a replacement for some time. The finished product was about as far from a Counting Cars restoration as you can imagine, and yet Danny seemed to love it.
2 Chevrolet Sedan
The 1960 Chevy Sedan is not exactly a graceful vehicle, which makes restoring an old version of this car into something modern, up-to-date, and eye-catching a huge challenge for guys like the team at Counting Cars. When they were asked to renovate a 1960 Chevy, they decided to go for an unusual white and almost neon pink combination, complete with garish sixties-style patterns on the hood and the side panels, as well as a glaringly white interior that required shades before you could get into the driver’s seat. A rare swing and a miss for the team at Kount’s Customs.
1 Sebring Vanguard CitiCar
The Sebring Vanguard CitiCar is like no vehicle US streets have ever seen before, and certainly raised a few eyebrows when it made an appearance on the show. However, while it may look like something a kid has knocked up in their garage for a soapbox derby, this creation was actually a forerunner of today’s electric vehicles, despite being launched back in 1970. One of the guys on the Counting Cars team spotted this quirky little motor and decided it deserved to be shown a little TLC. The best to be said about this restoration is at least someone was willing to show a little love to this ugly four-wheeled creation.
Sources: Countkustoms.com, greencarreports.com, history.co.uk