How did Danny Koker of “Counting Cars” get started in his business?
—Jesse Villanueva, Truth or Consequences, N.M.
Koker, aka The Count, may have been born in Akron, Ohio, but he spent summers with relatives in Detroit, Mich., so he says that his interest in cars started before he can remember. He jokes that his mother used to tell him that as soon as he started talking, it was about cars.
“When you spend literally your entire life—starting as a hobby and then evolving into an actual business—it really is a self-taught type of thing,” says the 48-year-old owner of Count’s Kustoms in Las Vegas, Nev., where the History Channel’s “Counting Cars” films. “The only really schooling I had was what you can get in high school and that is your basic shop class and automotive class. Other than that, it is just a matter of getting your hands dirty and taking something apart to see how it works. Then you’ve got to figure out how to put it back together.”
Koker, whose celebrity clientele includes rockers Ozzy Osbourne, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, owns 56 cars that he has restored, but there is still the one that got away: a 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV.
“Somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago, I almost had a deal on one and then it fell through,” he recalls ruefully. “I lost the car and I am still looking for one. They get more and more expensive every day.”
Koker, who comes from a family of Ford Motor Company employees, is also keeping his eye out for a Mako Shark Corvette. He says, “The body style of the C3 Corvettes from 1968-1982 was based on a Mako Shark show car. It was a company called Baldwin Motion that put out versions of the Mako Shark Corvette. I might have one right now in Texas. I am trying to close the deal on it. We will see.”
One lesson he has learned and is happy to pass along is that there is no point in restoring a car that people aren’t looking for. The key to a successful restoration starts with finding the right vehicle.
“You’ve got to start with a decent enough vehicle that you feel you can make a profit by the time you’re done with it,” he says.