Counting Car's Danny Koker: 'I cried when they drove it away!'
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Counting Cars begins on History Channel on Thursday evening and we caught up with car-lover and serial car-modifier Danny 'The Count' Koker to talk about his new series, his first car and the craziest request that a customer has ever made..
Do you feel like you're bringing cars back to life on this series?
I'm the luckiest man in the world because I'm doing something I Iove doing for TV! I do have a passion for restoring cars but also for modifying them, which is why our garage is called Count's Kustoms. For me it's all about putting my own flavour on cars..
Everything that comes out of your workshop is unique?
Pretty much. Occasionally we'll come across a vehicle that should not be modified because it would be dangerous, but for the most part we like to customize things.
You must have owned hundreds of cars ion your life. Can you remember your first?
Absolutely, my first car was a 1979 Z28 Camaro and I actually still have her! I got her when I was 15 and I've been fortunate enough to be able to hold on to her ever since. I'm hoping that next year I'll get the opportunity to restore her.
Would you ever sell her?
God willing, it's a car that I'll never have to sell.
What's the worst thing you can do when modifying a classic car?
That's a really good question. You've got to have an eye for the car and know how to compliment the vehicle in the best way, how to take the car's existing characteristics and make it the best it can be. The tragic thing is that a lot of people don't see what the best way of complimenting a car is, they just do something to it because it might be the trend. But that might not necessarily work on the car. A common mistake that I see all the time is something as simple as the tyres. This craze of adding huge tyres is crazy. Sometimes is looks good, but often people just shove on a big set of wheels and it looks horrible.
Have you ever given up on a car in your time?
I've never really written off a car. I'm a car nerd so I'll find something to love about any car..
You wait until you see my car!
What have you got?
A Fiat Punto...
Well maybe one car (laughs) I'm just joking! I guarantee that if you brought that thing round to my place we could do something with it!
What's the worst car you've ever modified? Has anyone ever brought in a Volvo?
No one's brought a Volvo in yet, but if they did I'd be up for the challenge. I think it would be fun to do a car like that. In this series we got an old Ford Falcon Ranchero which we had to do up - that was quite a job!
What's the weirdest request you've ever had from a customer?
Not too long ago I had a girl come in who wanted me to make her Chopper motorcycle look like a horse! It's not something that we couldn't do, but it's something that I wouldn't do. I respectfully turned her down. She had a good budget and she was ready to spend the money, but that's just not what we do!
Was there a project in the series where you feared that you'd bitten off more than you could chew?
Yeah you'll see that nearly happens a couple of times! What's interesting about the series is the fact that the producers and the directors let us do what we wanted. Count's Kustoms has been around for over 15 years and I've been doing it longer than that as a hobby so they're allowing us to do what we normally do. The show is very very real. You'll see quite a few times where we take on challenges that maybe we shouldn't have. The biggest challenge is the fact that I fall in love with vehicles and I want to make them the best that they can be. There's a competition between my vision versus budget! I'm a left-side of the brain guy and I'm all about creativity, so I need people around who will hold me back and count the beans, which is where my team come in. Sometimes the car wins, but we don't necessarily win money-wise!
Was there a car that you really didn't want to sell after you finished it?
Almost every one! One that I sold that I wish I hadn't was a 1973 Plymouth Satellite Seabring, which was like a Roadrunner of the 1970s. That car was absolutely gorgeous and I was just in love with her. When I got her my intention was to sell her. I had a buyer for her and when it fell through it didn't break my heart, I decided that it was fine and I would keep her. Then some very nice folks from Texas came along and they were not going to leave my shop until they purchased it and eventually we cut a deal. It still haunts me - I wish I hadn't sold that car. There was a tear in my eye when they drove it off!Counting Cars starts with a double-bill on Thursday February 21 at 9pm on History Channel.