Without the intervention of a casting team from the Discovery Channel at the turn of the 21st century, Orange County Choppers might well have remained just one of the thousands of excellent but anonymous motorbike repair and renovation shops which exist around the US. Thankfully for TV viewers – and lovers of memes – the father and son team behind Orange County Choppers would soon be given their own TV show, and become household names, as well as a byword for family dysfunctionality.
Based in Newburgh, New York State, Orange County Choppers creates imaginative motorbikes for clients, focusing on choppers as their name suggests. Paul Teutul Sr and his eldest son Paul Teutel Jr may have had difficulty seeing eye to eye on many of their projects, but that didn’t stop global corporations, sports stars, and Hollywood celebrities from giving them a motorbike to work on – especially when the TV cameras started rolling on the first series in 2002.
The Teutels went their separate ways in 2008, returning to TV in 2010 for a new series which saw Senior and Junior battle it out to create the best motorcycles. And the battling duo was eventually reunited when their show returned to the small screen in 2018, after six years off the air. Their tempestuous relationship often meant that projects didn’t quite go accordingly to plan, leading to some eccentric creations over the years…
19 The Peavey
Often it was the corporate commissions which led to the biggest arguments at Orange County Choppers, as the whole team would often have to curtail their own ideas in order to incorporate particular elements that the client wanted included on their motorcycle – no matter how bizarre the request.
The bike that Orange County Choppers made for electric guitar manufacturer Peavey in 2007, for example, featured a bizarre back wheel adorned with the outline of a guitar. The actual guitar that was created by Peavey with input from the Orange County Choppers team in the same episode, was much more stylish.
18 The B-2
In 2009, defense company Northrop Grumann commissioned Paul Sr and Orange County Choppers to create a motorcycle based on the design of the B-2 stealth bomber, to mark the 20th anniversary of its first flight. And so the “stealth bike” was created – about the worst tribute act since Fat Elvis started performing on the Las Vegas Strip.
The oversized gas tank not only makes the bike look pretty much unrideable but has been painted to look like the cockpit of a B-2 bomber, which gives the whole bike the appearance of a child’s toy, rather than a real homage to a military stalwart.
17 The Davis Love III
Sports stars make regular appearances on the show – in fact, the Discovery Channel even screened a special episode of the show in December 2014 which showed the Orange County Choppers teams (minus Paul Jr) creating a motorbike especially for basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal.
Now, Shaq is one of the most popular sports stars of all time, so it’s only natural that Paul Sr would be inspired, and that the audience would tune in. It wasn’t quite the same winning combination when Orange County Choppers was asked to make a custom motorcycle for mild-mannered golfer Davis Love III, and the bike ended up being as uninspiring as Love’s personality.
16 The Bebop
The Bebop bike isn’t strictly an Orange County Choppers creation; it was actually designed and built by Paul Teutel Jr after he had been sacked by his father and decided to set up his own business customizing motorcycles.
Aside from the fact that the Bebop bike is actually a trike – still considered sacrilege among many hardcore bikers – it has far too many bells and whistles, most of which have some sharp edges which look as though they could do you a bad injury if you got too close, let alone if you actually tried to take the thing out onto the road.
15 The NHL
From a bike which made no sense because of far too many extra features to one that underwhelmed viewers because of the apparent lack effort on the part of Orange County Choppers to come up with a creation that was up to their usual standards; a bike commissioned by the National Hockey League (NHL).
Perhaps the reason that the NHL bike was such a disappointment was that it featured in the same episode in which the Orange County Choppers team were also working on their over-the-top B-2 bomber tribute; and as any fan knows, the Teutels weren’t exactly known for being great multi-taskers.
14 The Abu Dhabi
Generally, the commissions which came into Orange County Choppers were from individuals with more money than sense, or companies looking for a custom motorcycle to promote their product or business. However, in Season Six, the Teutels were contacted by the Abu Dhabi police force who asked them to create a custom cop motorbike.
It was clear that while the guys at Orange County Choppers were intrigued by the proposition, working for the police didn’t seem to spark their creative juices in quite the same way as some of their other clients, leaving the end result something of a disappointment.
13 The Statue of Liberty
If the creative team at Orange County Choppers found it difficult to get inspired working for the Abu Dhabi cops, this next commission should have been an opportunity for the Teutuls to show off their patriotism. However, the “Liberty Bike” as it became known, which was built to mark the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty left many feeling distinctly underwhelmed.
While there were some nice design touches, such as using copper plating left over from the centennial restoration of the statue on the bike’s bodywork, the actual motorcycle ended up being far from Orange County Choppers’ finest moment.
12 The New York Yankees
Like the NHL bike, the motorcycle which Orange County Choppers created to honor the New York Yankees felt like an opportunity missed. Aside from the color scheme, and a couple of innovative uses of the Yankees logo, there was little of the Teutuls usual style in this creation.
However, the bike was eventually responsible for reuniting the feuding father and son when it came to their 2018 TV return. It had been vandalized and sold for scrap, and the first episode of the rebooted show saw Paul Sr and Paul Jr working together for the first time in years to restore their Yankees Bike to its former glory.
11 The Ferrari
Like the Cadillac bikes from the episode of Senior vs Junior, there was a certain amount of redundancy about the Ferrari motorcycle created by Paul Jr’s solo enterprise. Yes, the decision to paint it in the same red color that all gearheads have come to associate with the carmaker was a nice touch, but who would want a custom Ferrari motorbike when you could probably go out and buy the real thing for the same price, if not less?
Ferrari fans would no doubt be angry to see the great automotive giant’s name sullied by association with this chopper.
10 The Australia
Not all the episodes were filmed at the Orange County Choppers shop in New York; sometimes the Teutuls got to take their uncomfortable family arguments on vacation too! In 2007, they traveled to Australia, where Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe asked them to make a custom motorcycle inspired by his home country.
Sadly, the end result looked more like it had been inspired by Crocodile Dundee, with every cliché seemingly getting a look-in somewhere on the bike, from the shark-fin exhaust to the multiple kangaroo images, along with picture postcards of tourist attractions like the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
9 The World of Warcraft
Word of Warcraft is a classic board game which has been beloved by geeks for years. Given its traditional fan base, it was always going to be tricky for Paul Jr to create custom motorcycles that fitted the World of Warcraft aesthetic and kept the game’s devoted fans happy.
Junior actually created a series of motorcycles based on a World of Warcraft theme in 2014, for a web-based TV series but it was this bad looking trike which particularly caught the eye. It’s difficult to know which is worse here, the caterpillar tread rear wheels or the odd tusks which have been slapped either side of the front wheel?
8 The Chesapeake Energy
Think of motorcycles, and chopper bikes in particular, and you can’t help but imagine a throaty engine accelerating down the highway in a cloud of smoke. These vintage-style bikes aren’t known for their green credentials, which is what made the Chesapeake Energy a particularly bewildering choice for Orange County Choppers.
Chesapeake Energy asked the Teutuls to make the first-ever chopper powered by natural gas, as opposed to the much less environmentally friendly gasoline. No doubt it was a challenger for the Orange County Choppers team to go green, and the end result was a less than impressive set of wheels.
7 The GoDaddy
Despite the fact that they were the stars of the show when it came to the corporate commissions on the show, the team at Orange County Choppers ended up having very little creative control over what they could and could not include in the end product. Like the Chesapeake Energy bike, which required a complete overhaul of the mechanics of a motorcycle, the bike that the Teutels made for website hosting company GoDaddy.com had some pretty strict rules about the color scheme.
The GoDaddy logo is made of two colors, lime green, and bright orange, both of which had to feature prominently on the bike, despite the fact this made the end result look cheap and weird.
6 The QUBX
QUBX is another computing company who decided that the best way to promote their services was to have Paul Jr create a custom motorcycle to promote the ethos of their business – whatever that means. At least the QUBX bike, which Paul Jr built at his own shop, was significantly more tasteful than the GoDaddy model, featuring silver and blue bodywork, but was pretty dull compared to many of the creations that the Teutuls came up with over the years, whether together or alone.
Who knows whether were QUBX were happy paying $700,000 for what was essentially a chopper with a custom paint job.
5 The Gears of War
There were a lot of cultural crossovers with the various seasons of the show too, with Orange County Choppers being recruited to create motorcycles which would be used to promote the latest movie or computer games release. When the time came to launch the third installment of the popular Gears of War computer game, Epic Games turned to Orange County Choppers to create a custom motorcycle based on the game’s content.
The bike built by Paul Jr for Senior vs Junior was a ludicrously over-the-top interpretation of the game’s post-apocalyptic theme, complete with over-size tires on all three massive wheels.
4 The Geico
The Geico bike was another which suffered from having to adopt the style and branding of the commissioning company. Like the GoDaddy bike, there was nothing particularly wrong with the model built by Paul Jr for the insurance company in 2010. There were even some nice touches, including the detail of a lizard’s tale at the rear of the bike, in tribute to Geico’s gecko mascot.
However, the team had been instructed to stick to an eye-bleedingly neon green color when making the custom motorcycle, which rather detracted from any of the more positive features Paul Jr had put on the bike.
3 The Anti-Venom
Some fans love the Anti-Venom bike, the first motorcycle which Paul Jr built at his own company after he said goodbye to Orange County Choppers and all those crazy arguments with his father. It’s true that the custom motorcycle has a lot of charm, and has been enormously popular with viewers, but it is also a great example of how too much of a good thing can be a bad idea.
For the Anti-Venom theme, Paul Jr went crazy with the spider webs, a motif that would soon become his personal emblem, attaching them to just about every bit of bike where he could find space.
2 The Billy Joel
Celebrity appearances were common on the show, and these episodes always had a touch more glamour than the regular shows, which usually just focused on the rows between Senior and Junior! Singer Billy Joel was one of the famous faces who commissioned Orange County Choppers to build him a custom motorcycle – a vintage Indian bobber to be precise, so-called because the rear fender is shortened or “bobbed” in these style of bikes.
Sadly, this just left the Teutuls with less bodywork on which to be creative, and while the Billy Joel bike might appeal to purists, most viewers want to see more, not less.
1 The Cadillac
The Cadillac bikes featured in an episode of Senior Vs Junior from 2011, after Paul Jr had been fired from Orange County Choppers and set up his own business. However, father and son were happy to work together in a limited capacity, so long as it meant they could still enjoy TV fame!
At first glance there seems little to complain about with either Cadillac motorcycle; however, the very fact that someone thought that one of the most iconic car manufacturers in US automotive history needed a motorbike in order to promote their brand does seem misguided to say the least.
Sources - Orange County Choppers, Ride Apart, NHL, Auto Revolution