American Chopper: 20 Behind The Scenes Facts Fan Should Know

Back in 2003, we were all amazed by the craftsmanship that started being portrayed on the reality TV show (or shall we call it a documentary series?) American Chopper. From New York to the world, the motorcycle garage Orange County Choppers gave us easy entertainment, art, and something that every reality TV show has to offer: family feuds. The explosive duo, Paul Sr. and Paul Jr., turned transforming motorcycles into a form of art. But much has been left behind the scenes, so keep reading to find out more about it!

Image Credits: Getty Images / M. Caulfield / WireImage | Paul Teutul, Paul Teutul Jr. and Mikey Teutul of "American Chopper" present the Big Family of '04 Award.

Image Credits: Getty Images / M. Caulfield / WireImage | Paul Teutul, Paul Teutul Jr. and Mikey Teutul of "American Chopper" present the Big Family of '04 Award.


AMERICAN CHOPPER: THE TEUTUL FAMILY

Quickly becoming one of the most-watched reality shows ever, the show that followed the daily lives of the Teutul family, made it to the screen in 2003, and for four years it filled the fans’ day with drama and art. With a reboot in 2018 that came as a dream come true to the avid watchers, the show has left many hidden facts out of the screen.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Matthew Peyton | American Chopper cast Mike Teutul, Paul Teutal Sr. and Paul Teutal Jr. arrive at the celebration of the "Must List: The 137 People & Things We Love This Summer" at CroBar June 17, 2004 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Matthew Peyton | American Chopper cast Mike Teutul, Paul Teutal Sr. and Paul Teutal Jr. arrive at the celebration of the "Must List: The 137 People & Things We Love This Summer" at CroBar June 17, 2004 in New York City.


THE MEN BEHIND THE CHOPPERS

The show follows the lives and work of Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr., the father and son dynamic duo whose relationship is as explosive and chaotic as an erupting volcano. But Senior and Junior were not the only men responsible for making the show as exciting as it is.

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr. with custom made "I, ROBOT" motorcycle for Will Smith.

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr. with custom made "I, ROBOT" motorcycle for Will Smith.

The documentary series also follows Vinnie DiMartino, fabricator and mechanic, Rick Petko, builder and fabricator, Mikey Teutul, the younger brother who got a beginner job at the shop, and Cody Connelly, the (at the time) 14-year-old intern. The variety of characters and personality offered by this team of men gave us the entertainment we didn’t know we wanted!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dilip Vishwanat | (L-R) Kyle Petty of Petty Enterprises, Vince DiMartino, Paul Teutul Jr. Paul Teutul Sr. Mikey Teutul (of Orange County Choppers) and Richard Petty of Petty Enterprises, unveil the OCC Custom Sunoco Motorcycle prior to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Crown Royal 400 May 6, 2006 in Richmond, Virgina.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dilip Vishwanat | (L-R) Kyle Petty of Petty Enterprises, Vince DiMartino, Paul Teutul Jr. Paul Teutul Sr. Mikey Teutul (of Orange County Choppers) and Richard Petty of Petty Enterprises, unveil the OCC Custom Sunoco Motorcycle prior to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Crown Royal 400 May 6, 2006 in Richmond, Virgina.


THE UNTOLD TRUTH OF AMERICAN CHOPPER

What brought the viewers and fans to the series was their love for custom-bikes, however, what made them stay was the chaos and drama that was brought to us every single episode. But much has been left behind the scenes, so let’s take a look at the 20 most interesting facts that didn’t make it on the show!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ray Tamarra / FilmMagic | TV personality Paul Teutul Sr. enters the "Late Show With David Letterman" taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on August 28, 2012 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ray Tamarra / FilmMagic | TV personality Paul Teutul Sr. enters the "Late Show With David Letterman" taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on August 28, 2012 in New York City.


1. PAUL JR. AND HIS HIGH-END WORK AFTER THE SHOW

After leaving the show, Paul Jr. worked for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Out of the Shadows”, which ended up being better than what he was promised. "They never do anything without drawings, but they trusted me and my process. (Bay) liked it so much he asked for a second bike,” Junior commented.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David John Griffin / Icon Sportswire | Grand Marshal Paul Teutul, Jr. prior to giving the command to the drivers to start their engines for the 21st running of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series TruNorth Global 250 race on March 23, 2019 at the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David John Griffin / Icon Sportswire | Grand Marshal Paul Teutul, Jr. prior to giving the command to the drivers to start their engines for the 21st running of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series TruNorth Global 250 race on March 23, 2019 at the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA.


2. “THE CODY PROJECT”: HOW CODY’S INTERN BIKE MADE HIM GOOD MONEY

If you watched the show from the beginning, you might remember how Cody was working on his own custom-bike project as his little initiation work. The custom chopper was sold in 2003 and, as payment, Cody was supposed to get a custom chopper himself, but that didn’t happen, which led him to sue the company for $250,000 in damages.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Andrew H. Walker / WireImage | TV personality Paul Teutul Sr. speaks onstage at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 19th Annual "A Magical Evening" Gala at the Marriott Marquis on November 9, 2009 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Andrew H. Walker / WireImage | TV personality Paul Teutul Sr. speaks onstage at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 19th Annual "A Magical Evening" Gala at the Marriott Marquis on November 9, 2009 in New York City.


3. THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME: PAUL SENIOR’S LIFE

It might come as a surprise for those that watched the episodes that Senior suffered from alcohol and drug addiction, and for fifteen years the chopper-artist kept on indulging it. According to his book, his wife convinced him to go into rehab in 1985, which seems to have worked, as there were no signs of this behavior on the show.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bob Gevinski / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr. of "American Chopper" at the Orange Country Choppers presentation of the M3Power Nitro Chopper to Gillette.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bob Gevinski / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr. of "American Chopper" at the Orange Country Choppers presentation of the M3Power Nitro Chopper to Gillette.


4. DON’T WORRY, PAUL SENIOR IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL

Drama has always been a part of the American Chopper, and such is also true for the family’s out of screen life. In 2016 a report was published announcing that Paul Sr. had passed in a motorcycle accident, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Shortly after the news made it online, the family came forward denying the rumors.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeffrey Ufberg / WireImage | Orange County Chopper's Paul Teutul, Sr. visits "Late Show with David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on March 12, 2009 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeffrey Ufberg / WireImage | Orange County Chopper's Paul Teutul, Sr. visits "Late Show with David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater on March 12, 2009 in New York City.


5. THE FAMILY DRAMA WAS ALL REAL

Many reality TV shows have scripted drama to amp up the audience, but the same didn’t happen with American Chopper. Discovery Channel stated that the family beef and chaos that you can see on each episode is 100% true, and unfortunately, the father and son duo simply couldn’t get along.

Image Credits: Getty Images / dlrphoto / FilmMagic | Paul Teutul Jr, Paul Teutul Senior and Mikey Teutul.

Image Credits: Getty Images / dlrphoto / FilmMagic | Paul Teutul Jr, Paul Teutul Senior and Mikey Teutul.


6. PAUL SENIOR DIDN’T COME TO HIS SON’S WEDDING

Junior had met Rachael Biester on the show, a model that sometimes would work along with the family. Once he left the business, the couple decided to get married in an extravagant affair. Even though the event counted with many A-listers, Senior was not one of them, even though he was invited.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Stephen Lovekin | Rachel Biester and fiance TV personality Mikey Teutel attend the after party for the premiere of Discovery Channel's "Life" at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on March 4, 2010 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Stephen Lovekin | Rachel Biester and fiance TV personality Mikey Teutel attend the after party for the premiere of Discovery Channel's "Life" at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on March 4, 2010 in New York City.


7. LAWSUIT AFTER LAWSUIT, THE NEVER ENDING FIGHT

Known for its on-screen fights, the Teutul family didn’t change their behavior behind closed doors, and sometimes even had to get lawyers involved. The most famous lawsuit that arose from the show was about the on-air firing of Paul Junior, which led to reports of discrepancies in the distribution of shares of the company.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason Kempin / FilmMagic | Paul Teutul, Sr. during Paul Teutul Sr., Paul Teutul Jr., and Mikey Teutul in Store Appearance for Their New Book "Orange County Choppers - The Tale Of The Teutuls" - October 19, 2006 at Barnes @ Noble - Astor Place in New York City, New York, United States.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jason Kempin / FilmMagic | Paul Teutul, Sr. during Paul Teutul Sr., Paul Teutul Jr., and Mikey Teutul in Store Appearance for Their New Book "Orange County Choppers - The Tale Of The Teutuls" - October 19, 2006 at Barnes @ Noble - Astor Place in New York City, New York, United States.


8. THE TEUTULS ARE NO STRANGERS TO THE COURTROOM

Apart from the in-family lawsuits, the cast was also being dragged to courtrooms by other people. It was reported that Senior was sued for $1.4 million for copyright infringement, mostly with issues around the merchandise, products, and ill-transferred money. Some people went as far as accusing Senior of filing for bankruptcy once he transferred said funds to a safe account.

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr. during Access Hollywood Stage at the World Premiere of "I, ROBOT" at Mann Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States.

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr. during Access Hollywood Stage at the World Premiere of "I, ROBOT" at Mann Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States.


9. JUNIOR’S VENDETTA: HOW HE TOOK AWAY THE TEAM

After being fired from the show, Junior went on with his life and opened up his own business, Paul Jr. Designs. The employees of Orange County Choppers were also looking for a healthier environment to work, so they joined Junior in his own affair. Robert, Vinnie, Joe, and of course Junior’s baby brother, were all taken into the new business.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Gregg DeGuire / WireImage | Paul Teutul Jr. during "I, ROBOT" World Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Gregg DeGuire / WireImage | Paul Teutul Jr. during "I, ROBOT" World Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States.


10. TRAGEDY ENSUES AT PAUL JR. DESIGNS 

Right before Junior opened up his own shop, he contracted a worker to fix the roof before the big opening. Unfortunately, a tragic accident happened when the worker fell through the roof of the shop, which sadly left the man with fatal injuries. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bryan Mitchell | Paul "Paulie" Teutul Jr. and his father Paul Sr. from Orange County Choppers and the television show American Chopper talks to the automotive press about the Lincoln Mark LT Chopper they built January 10, 2005 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bryan Mitchell | Paul "Paulie" Teutul Jr. and his father Paul Sr. from Orange County Choppers and the television show American Chopper talks to the automotive press about the Lincoln Mark LT Chopper they built January 10, 2005 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.


11. CAMERAS OFF, BUSINESS OFF

Orange County Choppers had a lot to thank for the reality TV show, especially when it comes to the exposure it gave them and the business it attracted. However, the moment the show stopped in 2007, the business started going down, and Senior realized the income he was getting was not enough.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Astrid Stawiarz | Paul Teutul Sr. attends the 2012 UJA-Federation Of New York's Leadership Awards Dinner at 583 Park Avenue on April 3, 2012 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Astrid Stawiarz | Paul Teutul Sr. attends the 2012 UJA-Federation Of New York's Leadership Awards Dinner at 583 Park Avenue on April 3, 2012 in New York City.


12. STEROIDS: HOW TEUTUL BECAME FAST AND FURIOUS

In a statement from Times Union in 2011, Teutul Senior was connected to James D’Amico, a dentist who had been caught providing his clients with steroids illegally. According to the report, Paul had been getting large quantities of steroids for a period of over four years.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Chris Haston / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal | Paul Teutul Sr.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Chris Haston / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal | Paul Teutul Sr.


13. THE PONZI SCHEME AND HOW SENIOR WANTED TO GET RICH FAST

In 2011, Senior managed to make the news with another scandal, this time involving investors in the restaurant industry. The American Chopper was accused of running a Ponzi Scheme, where investors who were supposed to earn money through the profits of the restaurant, were in fact getting paid with other investor’s money.

Image Credits: Getty Images / James Devaney / WireImage | Paul Teutul, Sr. visits the "Late Show with David Letterman" on January 17, 2008 at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / James Devaney / WireImage | Paul Teutul, Sr. visits the "Late Show with David Letterman" on January 17, 2008 at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.


14. MISMANAGED FINANCES, BANKRUPTCY, THE USUAL DRAMA

We can understand how Senior is not very responsible, but his mismanagement of finances really took him down. In February 2018 his home was foreclosed and, even though there was some light at the end of the tunnel with the reboot of the show, he had to file for bankruptcy as he owed creditors over $1 million.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bennett Raglin / WireImage | Paul Teutul Jr. and Paul Teutul Sr. at a pre-race press conference to announce the unveiling of their "Sunoco Bike" to benefit the Petty's "Victory Junction Gang" camp at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Crown Royal 400 Saturday, May 6, 2006, at Richmond International Raceway Richmond, Virginia.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bennett Raglin / WireImage | Paul Teutul Jr. and Paul Teutul Sr. at a pre-race press conference to announce the unveiling of their "Sunoco Bike" to benefit the Petty's "Victory Junction Gang" camp at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Crown Royal 400 Saturday, May 6, 2006, at Richmond International Raceway Richmond, Virginia.


15. MIKEY’S REAL PASSION (SPOILER ALERT: IT’S NOT CHOPPERS)

Mikey, the baby of the family and one of the fans’ favorites, decided to follow his dream and in 2010 opened up Wolf Gang Gallery. He was able to finally devout his time and focus on his art, and showcase his talent through his paintings. Unfortunately, he had to close the gallery just two years later to help his family.

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Mikey Teutul during VH1 Big in '05 - Arrivals at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, United States.

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Mikey Teutul during VH1 Big in '05 - Arrivals at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, United States.


16. GO FUND ME, OR BETTER YET, FUND THE AMERICAN CHOPPER

Before the announcement that the show would have a reboot in 2018, the Teutuls opened up a crowdfunding account on Patreon, with the goal to raise $6,000 in order to do their own show. Unfortunately, before reaching their goal the account was shut down due to “not complying with Patreon Community Guidelines.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / Matthew Peyton | Orange County Choppers dad Paul Teutul Sr. attends the 18th Annual Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel September 30, 2003 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Matthew Peyton | Orange County Choppers dad Paul Teutul Sr. attends the 18th Annual Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel September 30, 2003 in New York City.


17. AMERICAN CHOPPER AND WWE, A MATCH NO ONE WAS EXPECTING

Many of the belts used in World Wrestling Entertainment, another big entertainment platform, were actually made by the guys at Orange County Choppers. Turning steel into art is their business, and many of the WWE wrestlers spend a lot of time at Senior’s shop.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Robert Laberge | A replica of the WWE world championship belt rests on top of Kyle Busch's #18 Z-Line Designs/WWE Smackdown Toyota prior to the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Robert Laberge | A replica of the WWE world championship belt rests on top of Kyle Busch's #18 Z-Line Designs/WWE Smackdown Toyota prior to the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 7, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.


18. VINNIE, ONE OF THE FANS’ FAVOURITES, MOVED ON WITH HIS LIFE

Vinnie, who often focused on his work rather than the drama around him, decided to leave the shop in 2007. Due to his talent and skill, he quickly found a new job working with four-wheeled vehicles, and soon opened his own bike shop, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Vinnie went on to create DiMartino Motorsports, where he fixed cars.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bob Gevinski / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr., Nichele Szynal, Mikey Teutul, Paul Teutul Jr. and Vinnie at the Orange Country Choppers presentation of the M3Power Nitro Chopper to Gillette.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Bob Gevinski / WireImage | Paul Teutul Sr., Nichele Szynal, Mikey Teutul, Paul Teutul Jr. and Vinnie at the Orange Country Choppers presentation of the M3Power Nitro Chopper to Gillette.


19. MIKEY DECIDED TO HELP OUT THOSE IN NEED

Mikey was never the most famous character in the show, however, he wanted to put the little fame he had into good use. He made a YouTube series in order to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness in New York, which was called “Bummin’ Around”, and followed the lives of homeless people in the city.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jacob Andrzejczak | TV personality Mikey Teutul arrives at Hawaiian Tropic Zone's 'Torrid' Nightclub at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on September 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jacob Andrzejczak | TV personality Mikey Teutul arrives at Hawaiian Tropic Zone's 'Torrid' Nightclub at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on September 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


20. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO JUST BE A SPECIAL, WHAT?

Heavy published the biggest fact about the show, and one we were not expecting at all. Apparently, the original American Chopper premiered as a special in 2002, and that was supposed to be it. But due to the ever-growing audiences, the producers just kept the show going, and at one point they had 3.4 million viewers per episode.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dana Edelson / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal | Motorcycle designer and builder Paul Teutul, Sr. during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on January 19, 2010.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dana Edelson / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal | Motorcycle designer and builder Paul Teutul, Sr. during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on January 19, 2010.

The documentary series that brought us real-life drama, family arguments, lawsuits, but above all amazing artwork, will forever be remembered as one of the most popular shows by the Discovery Channel. Surely the cast will still be making headlines in the years to come, so we just need to keep tight and wait for the next news!

ⓘ The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on, or available through this ENG.AMOMAMA.COM is for general information purposes only. ENG.AMOMAMA.COM does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.

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