Counting Cars is one of History Channel’s most popular programs. The show began life as an offshoot of History’s flagship reality TV show, Pawn Stars. Rick Harrison, the owner of the pawn shop, would go to Count’s Kustoms for questions related to cars. Count’s Kustoms is owned by Danny Koker who, before long, was given his own TV show. The show began in 2012 and just finished its seventh season.
Danny Koker is a car expert with a team of funny, hardworking men who keep the shop running. Alone, Danny would likely not have been interesting enough to carry a show. The combination of the funny Hungarian Roli, best friend Kevin, rambunctious Horny Mike, and the calm and collected Ryan means he has a hit show on his hands.
The show is not staged. Danny has said that he knows car enthusiasts would be able to tell if a car show was staged, but somehow they’ve managed to make it interesting enough to keep it going for seven seasons. (And counting! See what I did there?)
People are always interested in what goes on behind the green curtain, and that’s what we’re here to discuss. Here are 20 things you didn’t know about Counting Cars onscreen, off screen, and behind the scenes.
20 Problems with a Famous Rock ‘n Roll Celebrity
Lead man Danny Koker is a well-known face thanks to his time on Counting Cars and Pawn Stars. He has thus garnered attention from famous people such as Elvira, Ziggy Marley, and Rob Zombie.
Many of his celebrity friends end up making appearances on the show. Vince Neil (singer for Motley Crue) was once on that list, but no longer. Apparently, after Neil was arrested in 2003 for assaulting a Nevada prostitute, and then again for assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2011, three of Koker’s co-workers expressed concern over Koker’s association with Neil. They said it was hurting the company image. Scott Jones went on to tell Neil to “stop hitting girls,” and that they could throw down at the shop if he didn’t like what he was hearing.
19 The Shop Has Exploded in a Short Time
In the six or so years since Counting Cars has been on the air, Count’s Kustoms has grown exponentially. This is mainly due to the exposure they’ve received from the show. When Danny’s best friend Kevin Mack joined the show, there were only seven employees.
By 2017, the number of employees had jumped to almost 50.
Their employment jump has also sped up production. Projects that used to take 12 to 24 months to complete can now be done in as little as 90 days. Count’s Kustoms has around 15 projects going at any given time, and they complete 30 to 40 projects per year. That means the jump in workers is necessary. None of the employees are lacking for tasks to complete.
18 How Danny And Kevin Met
Danny Koker, aka “The Count,” is real-life best friends with Kevin Mack. Whenever they’re on the road together looking for awesome cars, Kevin is usually riding next to Danny. He also acts as the muscle in case things get hairy.
One of Danny’s signature moves is to use Kevin as “collateral” whenever he takes a stranger’s ride out for a test drive.
The pair met while riding motorcycles 24 years ago. 15 guys would go riding around Southern California and Arizona, having fun and modding their bikes. The wait time to mod was always grueling though, so Danny opened his own shop. Count’s Kustoms got started working on bikes, but then cars came into the picture. Danny got really busy, so Kevin joined him. They've now been working together for over 12 years.
17 The Split From the Other History Channel Stars
Before Counting Cars was a thing, Rick Harrison and his family got the ball rolling on the History Channel with his reality TV show, Pawn Stars. Rick runs the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, and Kevin Mack explained that the Counting Cars crew had been friends with the Pawn Stars for a long time.
Kevin actually used to ride motorcycles together with Rick Harrison’s brother.
When Rick started seeing cars brought into his pawn shop, he asked Danny to be his car expert. Eventually, the production company for Pawn Stars got a hold of Danny and asked him about doing his own reality show. A pilot was made, the network liked it. They green-lit the show, and the first episode aired in August 2012. Counting Cars is now in its seventh season.
16 Danny Koker Is In A Band
Besides being “The Count” and running the shop, Danny Koker also has a band called Count’s 77. That makes sense, seeing as that Danny’s father was a baritone vocalist and pianist who played with the Cathedral Quartet for years. Music runs in Danny’s blood. Count’s 77 has been together for roughly eight years now.
Kevin Mack is actually the Road Manager for Count' 77.
On March 10, 2017, Count’s 77 came out with their second album. Later that year they released their first video for “Summer of ’77,” which is all about music from the ‘70s. All the band members are apparently very accomplished musicians. Kevin explained Danny's relationship to the band by saying “It feeds his heart, his soul… music is a big part of his life, it was a big part of growing up.”
15 Making Deals and Bargaining is Harder Now
Since Counting Cars has become such a hit for The History Channel, it’s also had some negative effects on Danny’s shop. One of Danny’s favorite activities on and off the show is bidding on cars he’d like to own. Big surprise: he’s a huge collector. But bidding on cars means haggling, bargaining and negotiating, which has become tough for Danny and the gang.
In 2013, he explained in an interview that now that people know how successful he is because of his show, bargaining is much more complicated than it used to be. People try to raise prices on him when they recognize him. Danny explained the irony, saying “the show has made the business more successful, while also making it harder to do some of the things that are vital to keeping it running.”
14 Selling Personal Cars is Harder Now, Too
In line with the entry above, Danny Koker's ability to sell his own cars has also taken a hit. One of the main points of conflict in the show is when Danny wants to buy a car that someone is very attached to. Be it sentimentality or nostalgia, people sometimes just won't part with their vehicles.
Even though Danny is trying to operate a business, he knows how these people feel. After all, he’s the same way. He’s told Las Vegas Weekly that it’s very hard for him to sell his own cars, not just because of the popularity of the show, but because of the sentimentality he feels toward some of them. As he told Weekly, he feels "like I put a piece of me in it.”
13 Why Scott Jones Left The Show
Scott Jones was the no-nonsense, brusque shop manager of Counting Cars for the first two seasons. He was hardly mentioned at all in season three, and all but forgotten by season four. Fans have always wondered why Scott left the show, as the question was never answered. This has led to some wild speculation.
One theory is that Danny fired him for embezzling from the shop.
That would certainly lead to a quick boot from the show. A second theory is that he got tired of being on camera, and this one may be a little closer to home. A recent interview with the Greenville Sun has shown that Scott missed being in his hometown of Greenville. He even stopped by to sign autographs and give hugs where he used to work, Kykers Extreme Automotive.
12 Danny's Not An Environmentalist
Danny Koker is a pretty interesting guy. Part car fanatic and part musician, he’s also part politician, or rather, part anti-establishment advocate. In a time when car companies worldwide have made great efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and emissions (citing extensive scientific evidence to prove their theories) Danny Koker is not buying it.
In an interview with the Canadian talk show, The Morning Show, Danny said that he has absolutely no use for green cars like the Toyota Prius, mainly because they don’t have power, and he needs power.
He likes it when “it gets four miles to the gallon and has 800 horsepower.” In the end, he declared that he thought environmental concerns were a “game staged by politicians.”
11 Danny Koker Hosted A Horror Television Show
Danny Koker used to be a horror TV host. Before he got famous for being on Counting Cars, he was still famous for being on the TV, just not under the same name (or even acting as the same person). Although in all fairness, his persona wasn’t that much different.
Danny used to be the host of a local Nevada station’s late-night B-movie horror program called Saturday Fright at the Movies.
He used to garb himself in a black jacket, wear dark sunglasses, and went by the moniker “Count Cool Rider.” One funny tidbit is that Danny would use a fake Transylvanian accent when introducing the evening’s feature program as well as during commercial transitions. He liked his time on that show so much that he eventually named his car shop after that persona.
10 Bad Reviews Plague Anyone Doing a Good Job
For the most part, the workers at Count’s Kustoms get great feedback from their clients. Customers are always pumped when they see the end result. Shows like Counting Cars and Pimp My Ride have viewers drooling and dreaming about what their car could look like when the job is finished. That’s the whole point of watching the show. However, what you see on screen is not entirely what’s true in real life.
TripAdvisor has shown that Count’s Kustoms gets pretty bad reviews every once in a while.
One tourist pointed out that the shop was in a scary part of town and was smaller that it looked on TV. Another said that the staff is rude and the souvenir merchandise is too expensive. Such is the cost of doing business, you simply can’t please everyone.
9 The Show Sometimes Contains Factual Errors
As knowledgeable as Danny Koker is when it comes to all things cars and automobiles, sometimes he’s not quite on the mark. Danny is someone who is an expert in his field. The Pawn Stars guys go to him when they have questions about cars because they expect him to know anything and everything under the sun.
But car fanatics can be cruel. These folk like to go online and point out inaccuracies that Danny occasionally makes. One commenter said that Danny claimed ’54 was the year Chevrolet started making the Corvette, when in fact it was ’53. Danny also said only 600 were produced and that the car was a failure, when in fact 300 were made that year and then several thousand the next year. That's just one example. At the end of the day though, it's all just nitpicking an expert.
8 Danny’s Political Beliefs Makes For Good TV
The whole point of Counting Cars is to learn something about the company that these people work for as well as the staff behind the store. People are interested in learning about the ins and outs of the people running the shops, like Rick Harrison and Danny Koker, which is why Danny’s political beliefs makes for good ratings. They might sometimes hurt his business, though.
During the 2016 presidential election, Danny made it clear who he was voting for, even if it was detrimental to his business.
Danny openly supported Trump, thinking that he would lower taxes on small businesses like Count’s Kustoms, while also rolling back regulations that would hurt his company. Despite Pawn Stars’ Rick Harrison seeing his business take a big hit after openly supporting Marco Rubio, Danny wasn’t worried about anti-Trump supporters hurting his business.
7 The Best Part of Being on the Show
Counting Cars has become a huge operation. As mentioned earlier, there are currently over 45 employees working at the shop on at least 15 projects at any time, and finishing between 30 and 40 a year. There was a recent meet-and-greet in Las Vegas, at Danny’s bar. (Yes, he owns a bar, too!)
There, people got to meet the stars of the show and ask them questions. Ryan Evans is the head painter and graphic artist, Mike “Horny” Henry is the airbrush artist, Shannon Aikau is the bike shop manager, Roli Szabo is the detailer, and Kevin Mack is Danny’s right-hand man.
When asked about their favorite part of the show, Danny told the story of finding and restoring a car for a family who had lost their husband/father. They thought the car was lost forever, and Danny loved seeing the happiness in their eyes.
6 That Time a Worker’s Trailer Was Stolen
Roli Szabo is the shop’s detailer. He polishes and cleans every vehicle that leaves the shop. He has a thick Hungarian accent and often acts as comic relief, making him quite a popular cast member. Being noticed on a TV show has its downfalls, especially when you’re recognized for your stellar work.
In early 2017, a specially-made trailer with Roli’s detailing equipment inside it was stolen from the parking lot of a Las Vegas business called Mango’s Beach Bar.
Surveillance cameras showed the perpetrators unhooking and stealing the trailer, which had Roli’s name and face on the side of it. Obviously, if Roli was not famous, that probably wouldn’t have happened and he wouldn’t have lost thousands of dollars of equipment.
5 There Was Another Robbery
All of the awesome high-tech gadgets that are put into cars at Count’s Kustoms are worked on by Joseph “Doc” Duggan. He's the tech guy. While his coworkers are very traditional (big horsepower, low gas mileage, high speed, big engines, etc.), Doc is a bit more practical, and his beliefs often clash with those of his coworkers.
After returning from a Thanksgiving trip in 2015, Doc found his house had been burgled.
Only some dishes and clothes remained. Otherwise, the whole house had been emptied. Strangely enough, the burglars ran the dishes through the dishwasher before leaving, and they also used the bathroom. Since Doc reasoned that his fame had caused the burglary, he added cameras, stronger locks, and more powerful security measures to the place, as any tech guy would likely do.
4 The Third Robbery Was The Worst
In our last entry of three covering the burglaries and robberies of Counting Cars, we'll look at one that hits close to home. In March 2016, Danny Koker accused former staffer Joseph Frontiera of taking $75,000 from the company.
Frontiera was alleged to have stolen the cash to buy plane tickets, and to make a down payment on a new Range Rover. They also alleged that Frontiera failed to pay their income taxes on time, leading the IRS to fine them $18,000.
Count’s Kustoms sued Randstad Professionals (the company who referred Frontiera to the shop), claiming that Randstad knew Frontiera had prior embezzlement charges against him before vouching for him. Randstad then counter-sued, saying Frontiera’s agreement with the car shop should have prohibited him from ever handling money in the first place.
3 Danny’s Relationship with His Father’s Cars
It’s no secret that Danny Koker was very close with his dad. The two shared a great relationship before the elder Koker's untimely death in 2008. Danny has described his father as his best friend and a business partner. As such, Danny’s father’s death was very tough for him, with Danny telling the Las Vegas Weekly that, “When I lost Dad, I kind of lost my mind.”
He went on to say that he had to get busy, because if he idled, he’d go to bad places. However, Danny couldn’t bring himself to work on his father’s cars. After digging some of them out of storage, Danny realized these cars were too personal to his dad, and now him, and that he couldn’t look at or touch them. He does hope to share them with fans sometime in the future, though.
2 Danny’s Best Car Fix… Bringing Families Together
Here’s arguably Danny’s best car fix, and a great example of “bringing families together.” Danny wanted to find the lost car which once belonged to legendary singer-songwriter Barry White, a ’79 Stutz IV-Porte, or “The Car of Kings.” White’s wife, Glodean, really wanted the car back because it was very sentimental to her.
While filming the pilot episode, the show’s producers told Danny and Kevin to “go to the end of the road and take a left around the block and come back.” They accidentally took a right and ran into the Stutz sitting in a driveway, covered in cobwebs.
Glodean started crying when she learned of its discovery. Danny left a note on the car for the owner to call, and he ended up “paying too much” to buy it. He restored it and finally presented it to Glodean in episode 12 of season 1. Kevin Mack said “The family fell in love with the car again… we put that piece of history back to a family member that lost someone.”
1 Danny’s Dream Car: Lost, But Not Forever?
Just like anyone else who’s interested in cars, Danny Koker has a dream car. It's a 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV. He told American Profile that its always been his dream to own and restore one of those bad boys. Considering that he's someone who has a lot of money and is always around rare cars, it’s kind of shocking to learn that he doesn’t have it. As Danny told American Profile, “Between 15 and 20 years ago, I almost had a deal on one, then it fell through.” That’s all he said, but we KNOW it wouldn’t have fallen through if he had the kind of career then that he does now. Either way, his dream of owning the car is still alive, even though these cars become rarer and more valuable with each passing year.
Sources: screenrant.com; history.com; apexautomag.com