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Series / Counting Cars

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Counting Cars is a show on The History Channel.

After several appearances on Pawn Stars, Danny "The Count" Koker was given his own show focusing on his shop, Count's Kustoms, and his crew of employees as they buy, restore, customize, and sell various classic cars and motorcycles.

The cast includes Danny's right hand man and best friend Kevin, the shop air-brush artist Horny Mike (so named for his obsession with putting horns on anything he makes whenever possible), the shop's detailer and local Funny Foreigner Roli, project scout Big Ryan, bookkeeper Scott, and bike-shop manager Shannon. Episodes regularly show the team's various hijinks, conflicts, and occasional screw ups, but in the end it's always obvious why Danny refers to them as his "all-star crew"; they're very good at what they do.

A major part of the show is how Danny, while cruising around Vegas with Kevin, will go out of his way to chase down every classic car or bike he sees on the road with the intent of making an offer on the vehicle, sometimes following people for miles just for the chance to talk to them. He's variously met with either enthusiasm from fellow car fanatics or suspicion from those who don't like being followed. While he doesn't always make a deal, he always makes an offer, and if that fails leaves his business card, hopefully securing a new customer for the shop. Whenever possible, he'll take the car for a test drive, leaving Kevin as collateral (much to Kevin's annoyance).

Other aspects of the show include Danny's temptation to keep the vehicles he buys instead of selling them for profit; it's mentioned his personal collection is comprised of over fifty automobiles which are on display in the shop. Also touched upon is Danny's relationship with various celebrities and the work he does for them.

While everyone on the show clearly loves cars and knows what they're doing, it cannot be denied that much of the show is painfully staged for the camera in an attempt to show cool stuff and hijinks that will also pad out the running time. A good example is the time an extremely attractive woman was standing by their car carrier rig, ostensibly "admiring" it. She looks like she just got out of the make-up chair, shows no surprise at cameras recording her, and no reason whatsoever is given for her walking up to a car carrier parked on a street to "admire" it. Watch the sequence sometime. In a word, ouch.

This series provides examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Scott challenges Horny Mike to a race where Horny Mike is on his customized moped and Scott is on a bicycle. Scott wins. Justified in that Scott commutes between home and work by bicycle, and Mike's moped is really heavy.
  • All There in the Manual: Roli can't figure out how to reverse a Lamborghini Countach with a ludicrously tiny back window. Danny reveals that when you buy the car, the dealer and/or factory has to teach you a special method for doing so - leaning out the open door.
  • The Alleged Car: Horny Mike's bus is "the alleged bus". One episode is entirely focused on Danny effectively giving him an ultimatum to fix it up or take it out of shop, such is the state of the vehicle. Danny later goes back on his ultimatum out of charity and upgrades Mike's van for free to let him keep it there.
  • And Some Other Stuff: Danny installs an anti-theft device on a customer's car which was stolen - twice - and turns off the cameras while showing her. In all likelihood, it's a switch hidden under the dashboard in series with the ignition coil, published by Popular Mechanics every decade or so, all the way back in February 1925.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Danny.
    Kevin: He gets distracted easily. I'm not sure what he's got goin' on.
  • Audience Surrogate: Roli, being from Europe, isn't well versed in American automotive history, so will occasionally serve this role for Danny's exposition.
  • Badasses Wear Bandanas: The Count is never seen without his bandanna (except on the rare occasions that he's dressed up in pimp gear).
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Scott is regularly driven up the wall by Danny's inability to stay on budget and his habit of keeping cars for himself.
  • Berserk Button: Whenever Danny decides to keep cars for himself, Scott loses his shit. He usually can't truly lash out like most examples of this trope because Danny is his boss, so he can only complain strongly.
  • The Bet: Sometimes, the first example being Danny and Kevin having a bet on whether Danny can make profit on the Ranchero he bought. Danny wins, by giving up on the car and turning the rear half of the body into a billiard table.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The guys at the shop are quirky to say the least, but they are all damn good at what they do. Danny specifically lampshades this with Scott, who is, in his words, "an asshole", but he's very good at his job.
  • The Chessmaster: Danny. Whenever he and Kevin are rolling around Las Vegas to look for cars to buy or flip, he often tries to get drivers to pull over or to talk to the drivers. Even if he doesn't get a deal, he'll leave his business card. More than once, he has gotten customers to come to his shop to either buy his cars or to request a job from his shop. All thanks to simple, albeit weird, networking.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Some of Danny's punishments for the crew's mistakes, such as taking away the ladder when Horny Mike paints an unauthorised apple on a just painted truck still on the hoist, leaving Mike with no way down, or making Kevin complete an unauthorised sale of a bike by himself.
  • Cool Car/Cool Bike: Many, if not all the cars, bikes, and trucks seen on the show. If they are not cool when they arrive, Danny and his crew will make them cool.
    • Special mention goes to the custom built, 1927 Model T hot rod with two engines, pulling over 1000 horsepower. Much to Danny's extreme disappointment, this beauty simply was not for sale.
    • In fact, one of the problems the shop has is that Danny often refuses to let a project go out the door until he considers it sufficiently cool. He's such a perfectionist with his love of vehicles that between making something look better and keeping a good profit margin, the profit margin is such a distant second it doesn't even see coolness finish the race.
  • Creepy Good: They're nice fellows and absolutely harmless, but their tendency to randomly approach people (sometimes relentlessly) without warning and try to pull them over to buy their cars does terrify a bunch of people.
  • Crossover: With Pawn Stars, especially when Rick Harrison requests to make a car into the car from Bullitt. Since Danny is still the main car consultant on Pawn Stars and Rick will still bring cars to Danny on Counting Cars, the Crossover aspect happens quite frequently.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A more mundane form of the trope. Danny and his comrades dress and paint the shop with some very threatening and fearsome imagery, and Danny even naps in a coffin in his office, but they're actually really nice guys.
  • Determinator: When Danny wants to look at a car, it's extremely, extremely rare for him to stop before he's convinced its owner to pull over and talk with him about it, which frustrates (and occasionally frightens) Kevin to no end.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: They spend one entire episode trying to customize a car for a man's wife, and the exact second they finish the car Scott comes out and tells Danny the couple just split up and the man no longer wants anything to do with the project.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?:
    • In terms of the family of shows stemming from Pawn Stars, Danny does more haggling than Rick Dale, but not as much as Rick Harrison. The main difference between this one and any of the other History Channel reality shows where this is involved is that Danny has a problem with knowing when to stop. If the owner is willing to sell, he'll generally buy, no matter how much it costs... he just loves cars too much to pass one up that catches his eye.
    • He gets caught off guard when someone gets him to pull over and offers to buy his 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring Plus. Because they were obvious car people, he sells it for $34,000.
  • Dub Name Change: Danny's nickname, "The Count," gets changed in foreign dubs because the pun in "Counting Cars" usually does not translate to many foreign languages. For instance, in the Portuguese dub he's called Danny "The Crazy" and the series name is switched to "Crazy For Cars."
  • Dumbass Has a Point: In the episode "Ghost Rider", Kevin was reluctant to take on a couple's 1992 ambulance to be worked on, knowing Danny would be reluctant to take on a project like this. Horny Mike, however, makes a good point to Kevin that he should at least consider asking about the budget since the clients did mention earlier that they won $2 million in the lottery and that they would likely have a lot to spend on the project. Turns out Mike was right, as the clients reveal they have a $100,000 budget and Kevin immediately agrees to the project.
  • Dynamic Entry: In some occasions Danny does this with the customized car to display to his client just how great it looks.
  • Franken-vehicle: A lot of the Count's Kustoms projects involve putting parts intended for one car into another car. In one episode the team is commissioned to upgrade an elderly customer's old Cadillac convertible, but Danny is hesitant because the car is in such perfect working order as it is. Another team member compares the serial numbers and realizes the motor has already been replaced once with an engine from a different model of Cadillac, allaying Danny's concerns about ruining a seemingly all-original car, and they install a new engine and safety systems from a modern Caddy.
  • Friend on the Force: None of them are private detectives, but the basic logic still applies: Kevin's brother, Steve, is an attorney and judge in L.A., and he helps them with any legal issues which might occur.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Ryan and Horny Mike sometimes have disputes over which is the better painter.
  • Fun Personified: "The Count" is a very jolly and electric fellow.
  • Good with Numbers: Scott is often exasperated with Danny because he knows exactly how much Danny's car habits cost the the shop and how risky it all is.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Danny and Kevin - best friends and business partners.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Danny is a brilliant mechanic, but absolutely lost when it comes to things like cellphones. Lampshaded in Pawn Stars when Danny is brought in to evaluate a diagnostic machine for a car. He admits to being completely lost with more modern tech and cars, but falls in love with the diagnostic machine (which is simple enough to use, even for Danny).
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Danny, the crazy car guy, is also an ordained minister.
    • Roli was both a police officer and a soldier back in his native Hungary.
  • Indy Ploy: Danny sometimes does stuff at complete random (often for the art), such as buying a car for too high a price or spending too much on the remodel of a car and having to adjust his plans to make a profit off that.
  • Kill It with Water: One episode featured the shop's sprinkler system water main rupturing beneath the shop. They not only lost their parking lot, they came very close to losing the shop floor.
  • Mad Artist: The Count gets crazy with his cars. His teammates effectively think of him as such.
  • Manly Tears: Sometimes customers get choked up at seeing their restored cars. Danny also does this from time to time when he remembers his father or mother.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: One episode opens with Danny greeting his crew with "Good morning, gentlemen! You too, Mike."
  • Nice Guy: Danny is incredibly affable with all customers and potential customers. He also shows a special graciousness toward individuals with physical handicaps, such as the woman with MS whose husband needed his chopper tricked out so she could ride safely with her prosthetic leg.
  • No Indoor Voice: Scott has a recurring tendency to talk very loudly.
  • Only Sane Man: Scott often plays this role to the overall reigning madness of everyone else.
  • P├Ždo Hunt: This is why Danny painted his windowless van bright red. When it was satin black, he was pulled over by the police a lot, because "it looks like you're hiding something".
  • Patriotic Fervor: Danny and the crew are firmly in the Patriotism is Good camp; they love doing projects for veterans or other military causes. They are a mild example, though, as they never get into political issues. There's a good reason for this; Danny's father was a Green Beret, and he has nothing but respect and gratitude for the men and women who serve.
  • Pimp Duds: When the shop restores a Dunham Coach-built Cadillac El Dorado in the style of Superfly, Danny, Kevin, Mike, and Roli go cruising in it, appropriately attired.
  • Product Placement:
    • Roli and Horny Mike go to a Napa Store in order to buy a part about which they have very scant info.
    • The Count's Kustoms crew continues to carry on the classic Pawn Stars tradition of eating so much Subway that they probably crap sun yellow and forest green.
  • Put on a Bus: At the beginning of the third season, the Count's narration explained that Scott had moved to Tennessee.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The crew is composed of a truly bizarre collection of fellows.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • Kevin owns two small lapdogs and will baby-talk with them.
    • Danny himself has a soft spot for small animals as seen both on this show and once on Pawn Stars.
    • Horny Mike claims to own four cats that he will walk on a leash.
  • Red Baron: Danny "The Count" Koker.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Danny is significantly more overexcited and emotional than Kevin, who tries to be more logical and calm.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Kevin in particular likes showing off his guns.
  • Spin-Off: Not technically, but it's very clear that this show is a result of Danny's association with the stars of Pawn Stars (and his frequent appearances on that show).
  • Straight Man: Roli is one of these. Despite being a Funny Foreigner, just the fact that he's the closest thing to the Straight Man in a group of nonstop goofballs is enough to single him out.
  • Super Wheelchair: Danny once built an absolutely rocking wheelchair for a man who suffered a terrible accident that confined him to a wheelchair. Another one is a Meta Mecha-style example that doesn't involve customizing the wheelchair: a custom motorcycle with an oversized sidecar that not only allows a wheelchair to dock in it, but the man in the wheelchair can drive the bike.
  • Swapped Roles: Danny is always flagging down cool cars and bikes that he sees on the road and offering to buy them off the owner. In one episode, a guy flagged down Danny and tried to buy his car, insisting that he loved it and had to have it. Danny was caught off-balance and admitted that it felt very weird being in the role of the owner rather than the buyer, but much to his own amazement he ended up selling his car to the guy for $34,000.
  • This Is Wrong on So Many Levels!: Danny being driven in Mike's bus (apparently Mike forgot to clean the toilet).
    Danny: This is wrong on every level.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Danny and Kevin stop by a parked Cadillac and are looking it over when the owner shows up. The owner agrees to Danny taking a test drive. The owner comes along for the drive... and so does Kevin.
  • Tranquil Fury: It's fairly rare for Danny to get truly angry, but when he does he maintains his composure well; still, it's easy to see how much it's simmering beneath the surface.
    • A stellar example of this was actually on Pawn Stars, when he was called a lousy mechanic for saying a Porsche Boxster engine (stored outside unprotected for a long time) was likely seized and definitely in need of a total rebuild, and thus not worth the asking price.
    • It's cropped up on his own show a few times, such as when Horny Mike took it upon himself to paint a big apple on the side of a recently-painted classic truck (Danny walked off without leaving him any way to get down from his perch), or when Kevin decided to buy a bike without consulting him (Danny made him do the sale all by himself).
    • In one episode, Roli and Horny Mike accidentally break the brand new windshield for a Winnebago Danny had spent months restoring. Danny very calmly tells them they have exactly twenty-four hours to replace it.
  • Troll: Danny is a very nice guy, but he sometimes messes with his employees for his own amusement. It's all very light-hearted, but it's still there.
  • Two Decades Behind: A real life example. The Count's slang, cultural references, and manner of dressing seem stuck somewhere between the '70s and '80s, and he gleefully admits it.
  • Verbal Tic: Danny The Count has a two-fold one. He has a tendency to call everyone either "Brother" or "Man", and, most memorably and most frequently, the unholy combination: "Brother-man".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Kevin and Danny do some good-hearted bickering.
    • Horny Mike and Roli argue good-naturedly at times.
  • Visual Pun: Horny Mike is a walking one: all the vehicles and helmets he owns are covered with horns which he fabricates himself.
  • The Wonka: Danny's obsession with cars, flagging down standards, and inability to stay on budget either frighten or enrage his employees, but he does an amazing job and his customers are always happy, so he stays in business.