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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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