- Profession: TV host and entrepreneur
- Age: 47
- Hometown: Detroit
- The cars: Has “around 58”
- Owned a television station in Las Vegas
- Has operated Count’s Kustoms, a vehicle restoration and repair shop in Las Vegas, for more than 15 years
- Counting Cars airs on History Channel, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
He’s best known as “The Count” from his recurring roles on the hit TV reality shows, Pawn Stars and American Restoration. But Danny Koker has now taken centre stage in his own series called Counting Cars on The History Channel.
The self-taught mechanic is a car-and-bike aficionado who restores, customizes, and flips vehicles out of Count’s Kustoms, his custom auto repair shop in Las Vegas. On set, Koker drives his 1956 Chevy Stepside pickup hot rod in satin black with red flames. Off set, his ride is a 1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham – one of dozens of vehicles Koker owns.
How many cars do you have in your collection?
The current count is around 58. I have about another seven-eight motorcycles, too. I’m truly addicted. I think I need an intervention. I need some help! I have a lot of different cars from very high-performance exotic cars and sports cars to hot rods. I have a soft spot in my heart for the really big, pimpy Cadillacs. My daily driver is a 1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. It’s huge. It’s an absolute land yacht. It’s white with a black vinyl top. I’ve got the big gangster whitewalls on it. I’ve done an all-black fur interior in it. It’s my cruiser. It’s the Detroit in me. It reflects the way I grew up.
When did this obsession with wheels start?
When I was eight, my father bought me my first motorcycle.
All my relatives are from the Detroit area. A large part of my childhood was spent in Detroit and so many of them worked at Ford Motor Co. My uncles and my father always had hot rods and cool cars. Some of my uncles had motorcycles. As a kid, I was always growing up around cars and bikes. It’s been in my blood forever. It runs in the family.
What are the prized possessions in your collection?
I own a 1932 Ford Roadster that is the original Mattel Hot Wheels car. It’s the car that Mattel made their little ’32 toy off of. This car is a significant hot rod. The first time it was ever cut up and turned into a hot rod was way back in 1949. Its one of the oldest and historic hot rods in the nation. I acquired the car back in the early ’80s and it’s been with me ever since. It’s one of the crown jewels in the collection.
Another one that’s important to me on a personal level is a 1966 Mustang GT350. It’s a car that my father purchased when I was nine. It’s been in the family forever. I lost my father a few years back and now the car belongs to me.
It’s one of the most significant cars on a personal level because it was his. And frankly it was the one that started it all. He bought that car when I was nine and from there he and I just started playing with cars together and we started collecting cars together. I’ve carried the tradition on throughout the years. I look around the shop and I have a handful of vehicles that he and I have collected together.
What was the first car you and your dad bought together?
It was a 1966 427 AC Cobra. It was a fantastic car. I still have it. That’s another one that’s not going anywhere.
Is there any car you wish you never sold?
Yes! Yes! Yes! I regret every one I’ve sold! I swear to you – I love cars so much, it’s crazy. Business-wise, it makes sense. You purchase cars. You fix them up. You put your style on them. And somebody comes along and has to have it. Just recently, I completely restored a car that I had no intentions to sell. It’s a 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring R – which is very much like a Road Runner in pin-crazy purple, black graphics, big block engine – all kinds of wonderful things I did to this car. My intentions were to keep it for myself and some folks came in and wanted to buy it. They kept upping their offer until the point where it was, like, it’s ridiculous. I could go build two more for the offer they were giving me. So I sold the car and I still regret it to this day.
What’s the most you’ve spent on a car?
I shop really well. I’m a very frugal buyer. The most I’ve laid out on a car would be about $115,000. And that was a 1999 Shelby Series 1.
It must be worth a fortune now, especially with Shelby’s passing?
Shelby was a beautiful man, a genius, and an amazing character. The value of Shelby cars have gone through the roof. I spent $115,000 purchasing it, but the value of this vehicle is really unknown. It’s a car that I’m not looking to sell. But I’m certain it’ll fetch a pretty penny.
They only made 249 of them. They’re very rare cars. Built and designed by Carroll Shelby. This one is the only Shelby car that is 100 per cent designed and built by Carroll Shelby.
The Shelby Mustangs, of course, started life as Mustangs and then he gave them the Shelby treatment. The Shelby Cobras started life as AC Bristols, which is a British sports car. He gave them the Shelby treatment and made them Cobras. But the Series 1 was a car that was 100 per cent built and designed by Shelby from the ground up. As a collector, I can appreciate the value of that.
All of the cars came from the factory silver. Some guys who wanted a different colour painted their cars different colours. But I knew Shelby and I knew all the guys at the Shelby factory. I wanted mine black so I convinced them I wanted mine from the factory black. Technically, there are 248 silver ones and one black one and that’s mine, which makes it much more rare.
What do you look for when buying a car?
For me, it’s about style.
I love all kinds of cars – they can be anything from street cars to muscle cars to exotic cars to sports cars to classic cars. I don’t have one flavour or style that draws my attention. I’m all over the board.
What I look for is potential in a car. I look at a car and study the lines and think, what can this car be? What can I do to make this car stand out? I think to myself – that car could be bad. That’s what gets my attention with certain vehicles.
This interview has been edited and condensed.