In 2003, a simple motorcycle garage in New York took the world of reality TV by storm. ‘American Chopper’ fascinated viewers since it first aired. Fans loved watching the amazing bike transformations and were immediately hooked. Aside from the motorcycles, the people involved in the reality show were quite entertaining, making viewers come back for more. Nobody wanted to miss the explosive fights between the father-son duo, Paul Sr. and Paul Jr.
The successful show aired for 7 years, and a lot has happened. Initially, ‘American Chopper’ was one of the most-watched reality shows, and audiences couldn’t get enough of the drama between the two Pauls. But the series disappeared. Motorcycle fans were ecstatic when the show returned for a reboot in 2018.
Here is everything you need to know about the cast of the hit reality show, ‘American Chopper.’
‘American Chopper’ is a reality show that is a huge hit, loved by millions of people all over the world. When the cameras stop following the Orange Country Choppers around, it was difficult for the shop to deal with a decrease in customers. One person in particular who suffered from the show’s cancellation was Paul Jr.
The talented chopper creator was selected to create the bikes for the 2016 version of the comic book action movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Out of the Shadows.” Production didn’t really give him much to work with and put a lot of faith and trust in his expertise. He was given free reign to create one bike. The director, Michael Bay, was so impressed with his work that he wanted Paul Jr. to make another.
If you watched American Chopper years ago, back when it first aired, you probably remember Cody Connelly. He worked as a shop hand in the garage. He spent years working and learning his craft under the guidance of Paul Sr., years before the show even approached Orange County Choppers. Before the show, the shop focused a lot of their efforts into ‘The Cody Project’ custom chopper; it was sold in 2003 at Daytona Bike Week.
The bike was sold for an undisclosed amount, and as payment, Cody got a custom chopper. However, Cody later sued Orange Country Choppers after claiming not to have received the bike. He sued for $250,000 in damages and also claimed that the Orange Country Choppers were using him on promotional material after he left the shop.
After Paul Sr. stopped showing up on our screens for a while, rumors that he passed away started going around. What viewers seemed to have forgotten was that his main job was with the Orange Country Choppers and his TV work was on the side. After ‘American Chopper’ ended, Paul Sr. continued to work hard in order to pay the bills.
In 2016, it was reported that Paul Sr. died after a motorcycle crash. Someone went as far as doctoring an article to make it appear as if this was the case. As soon as that article surfaced, Paul Sr.’s family was receiving condolence messages through social media. Thankfully, Orange County Choppers shot down these rumors after showing the man to be alive and well.
‘American Chopper’ fans might remember Paul Sr. and Jr. butting heads. Their arguments were a staple of the show, but at a certain point, these two couldn’t even be in the same room together. Eventually, Paul Jr, couldn’t stand it anymore and went his own way. He decided to create his own custom chopper business in Rock Tavern, NY, called Paul Jr. Designs.
Unfortunately, before Paul Jr. even opened the doors, tragedy struck when a contractor fell right through the roof of the shop. The man was hired to fix the roof before they opened the shop, but sadly, his injuries were fatal. None of Paul’s staff were on the premises when the tragedy occurred.
It appeared that ‘American Chopper’ fans couldn’t survive without some Orange County Choppers in their lives. The reality show ended in 2010, and it seemed like we may never see Paul Teutul Senior on TV again. But in 2018, fans were thrilled when the show got a reboot. It returned on The Discovery Channel – its original network.
The series was practically doomed in 2008 when it switched to TLC, but ‘American Chopper’ returned with a bang! Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. came back and tried their best to work through their tensions and differences from the past. In a way, the reboot was therapeutic for the family and brought them close together once again.
There was a lot of heartbreak surrounding Paul Sr., and Paul Jr.’s falling out. For the youngest of the pair, things seemed to have been working out. Sure, he had a strained relationship with his father, but it did inspire him to branch out on his own. He tried to convince him to sell his 20 percent share of Orange County Choppers, but that didn’t stick.
At the end of the day, Paul Jr. thinks that leaving his father’s shadow was a good thing. He finally managed to branch out, creating his own business and his own image. Due to a clause in his contract, Paul Jr. was obligated to take one year off, but in 2010, after reality TV left him behind, he went back to his own business.
Thanks to the success of the reality show, Orange County Choppers was one of the busiest ships in the country for some time. Thanks to its exposure, everyone wanted to see what this motorcycle shop was all about. As business was booming and huge corporate contracts were coming in, Paul Sr. left in order to expand.
Unfortunately, as soon as the cameras stopped filming the crew, the business started to drop. That’s when Paul Sr. realized he had far less money coming in and needed to make some sacrifices. Rumors that the shop was closing began going around after it was discovered that the building where Orange County Choppers was held in was being sold. It turned out that OCC was just leasing the premises; it was the property owner who was in trouble.
Sadly, the owner of the OCC location wasn’t the only one with financial difficulties. Paul Sr. later admitted he wasn’t always responsible when it came to the finances of his company, and he couldn’t keep up the costs after expanding. As soon as the big projects stopped coming in, Paul Sr. and Co. took whatever jobs they could.
This meant they fixed things like cars, quad bikes, and snowmobiles just to make ends meet. Paul Sr. was forced to dip into his personal finances so that his shop workers can make a living. Times were tough for Orange County Choppers, and it would take a lot of resilience for Paul Sr. to bounce back.
After Cody left Orange County Choppers, he stayed in the motorcycle industry, well at least for a little while. When Cody joined the shop, he was just a young boy right out of school, but his acquired skills went to good use. Cody was a helpful addition to Orange County Choppers, but when Vinnie DiMartino left the shop, he took Cody with him.
Cody helped Vinnie set up his new garage. He was basically doing just what he did at Orange County Choppers, but for a new boss, Vinnie DiMartino. Cody worked for Vinnie for a while before returning to Paul Sr., but by the time he did so, it was with his son, Paul Jr.
Craig Piligian, the creator of ‘American Chopper,’ didn’t think that the Teutuls were the right family for the show. Although the reality TV family was an essential part of the show’s success, Piligian had originally had his eyes on a different garage – but that one didn’t work out. The other garage was located in New Hampshire, but the creator was worried that the individuals running the shop had the wrong mindset.
So ultimately, he chose to go with the Teutuls, which was obviously the right decision because they made the show what it was. The series was intended to focus more on the actual bikes that the shop was working on, but as reality shows go, it ended being about the relationships and the drama.
After a little while, Piligian thought that it was more of a sitcom than a reality show. He was imagining ‘I Love Lucy’ playing out on the screen. It didn’t take long for him to realize that the story audiences were interested in was the relationship between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. The father-son duo is what made viewers come back for more.
Piligian admitted that he might have played a small part in making Junior go missing once in a while and for Mikey not showing up at all. It ultimately makes for great TV, but I’m sure Paul Sr. would have appreciated a heads up or a little more help around the shop than what he was getting.
There was no shortage of drama between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr., but at the end of the day, they always found a way to forgive each other. Sometimes the fights between them looked staged, but reports revealed the heated beef between the father and son was, in fact, real. Often times, both of them lost their tempers, and while working at the same shop, emotions ran high.
However, things seemed to have gone way too far when Paul Jr. threw a chair at his father. Paul Sr. felt like he crossed the line, and he couldn’t let go. He got so angry that he destroyed a water cooler when he fired his son. Most agree with Paul Sr. calling out his son, but it seemed like there was no coming back from that incident.
After the disputes, his father, Paul Jr., felt like he needed to get away from Orange Country Choppers in order to cool off. When he wanted to return to the chopper-making business, he chose to go bother his dad one last time. The younger Paul stole a lot of his father’s workers from Orange County Choppers.
The employees were searching for a different way to work and decided to leave the unstable nature of Paul Sr.’s shop behind. Some of the recognizable faces that followed Paul Jr. were Robert ‘Nub’ Collard, Joe Piliafico, and of course, his brother Mikey. I’m guessing that didn’t go down well with Paul Sr. considering half of the workforce betrayed him and joined his son.
Paul Sr. certainly doesn’t seem like the type of guy many people would want to mess with. He was a very vocal and outspoken cast member on ‘American Chopper.’ According to some unhappy investors, back in 2011, Paul wanted to break out into the restaurant industry. At the time, he was at the height of his reality show fame, but then Paul Sr. was accused of running a Ponzi Scheme.
A Ponzi scheme is where company investors are supposedly earning money through business profits, but in reality, that money comes from other investors who join down the line. It becomes a vicious cycle where investors are getting paid with other investor’s money, and profits may not actually be coming in through the business. This is a serious allegation and could land Paul Sr. in some hot water.
A number of investors in the ‘American Chopper’ restaurant felt like they were out of pocket for no legitimate reason. The investors said that collectively, they were duped out of about $15 million. They claim Paul Sr. was issuing shares with his business partner in other companies that were worth nothing.
Allegedly, Paul Sr.’s business partner decked out his office in fancy furniture in order to make his investors think they were investing in a luxury business. The Orange County Choppers owner also supposedly let these investors work out of headquarters in New York for five days. Despite all these claims, Teutul’s business partner denied it.
It appeared that things might be looking up for Paul Sr. in 2018 when he got the good news that ‘American Chopper’ was getting a reboot. Things were going incredibly well for Paul Sr. when his show was in the limelight, but after being off the air for so long, things took a turn for the worse. The night that his show aired in 2018, Teutul needed to file for bankruptcy.
Even though with the show back on TV, the family’s future was looking bright, past mistakes caught up to Paul Sr. By this point, he owed 50 creditors over $1 million. His net worth was at $1.8 million, and bankruptcy seemed like the only way Paul Sr. could dig himself out of his hole.
In theory, Teutul would have been able to pay off his debts. The problem was that it would take him an eternity. Paul Sr. was earning about $15,000 per month, and his debts were just $12,600. If you add in living costs, Paul Sr. wouldn’t have been able to pay off the debt on his own.
Teutul had plenty of bills to worry about, including outstanding fees on judgment, medical bills, credit card debt, and taxes. While he was concerned about getting rid of his debt, he wasn’t completely cleared because of a documentation issue. Reportedly, Paul Sr. didn’t supply the correct paperwork from the beginning, which resulted in complications in the bankruptcy process.
As the Orange Country Choppers owner was in the midst of his financial troubles, he thought he had one saving grace that would help him get out of this problem. Paul Sr. owned a large property in Montgomery, New York. The property includes a waterfall and 38 acres of land; Tuetul thought he could sell it and put it on the market for $2.9 million.
That amount of money should have definitely been enough to dig Paul Sr. out of his financial hole, but unfortunately, he found it very difficult to sell the house. There was even a volleyball court and pool on the property, but it seemed no one wanted to spend that much for it. In 2019, the asking price dropped to $1.65 million, and it appears as though his money struggles may continue.
Paul Teutul Sr. had some personal demons to overcome from long before he starred in the hit reality show. The leading member of the Orange County Choppers garage checked himself into rehab back in 1985, after his wife asked him to. He was struggling with both drinking and substance abuse, and he knew his only option was to quit.
The mechanic never saw himself quitting alcohol, but he was ultimately thrilled that his wife managed to talk him into it. Thankfully, Paul Sr. was able to handle his own addiction, but he quickly found out the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Both of his sons, Paul Jr. and Mikey, had their own drinking problems when they were young men.
‘American Chopper’ had many characters, and one of the most beloved was Mikey, Paul Sr.’s other son. Both Pauls loves choppers more than anything else in the world, but the motorcycle business wasn’t as appealing to Mikey. Instead, he decided to use his time on the show to create something that he was actually passionate about.
In 2010, Mikey Teutul opened a Wolf Gang Gallery. Meanwhile, his family was tearing itself apart in court. This allowed Mikey to finally showcase his talent through his paintings. Sadly, he had to close the Gallery two years later so that he can focus on his and his family’s health. Later on, Mikey started a new business involving something else he loves: food. The youngest Teutul created FarQueue Products, a line of gourmet pasta sauces.
You know a show is a hit when other networks come and rip off the formula to create their own version of the series. ‘American Chopper’ was no exception. During the height of its popularity, the reality show got a duplicate version that was aired on Comedy Central. The network spent a lot of money creating a parody show called ‘American Body Shop.’
On paper, the idea seemed like a recipe for success. However, viewers would rather see the real feuds between the two Pauls. The fake drama created for the parody show just didn’t cut it for ‘American Chopper’ fans. After just one season, ‘American Body Shop’ was canceled.
This may sound a little unexpected, but the Orange County Choppers play a significant role in the professional wrestling world. The guys in the shop are actually the ones who made a lot of the belts used in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). I guess it makes sense that their talents can work in the wrestling industry because they are experts at turning steel into artwork.
A lot of the WWE superstars spend a lot of time at Paul Sr.’s shop since they make the majority of the belts. However, Orange County Choppers said that the company doesn’t make the side plates. Still, that’s a pretty important contribution to an industry you may have never associated with a company that makes custom choppers.
Throughout his lifetime, Paul Sr. created plenty of custom choppers, but he had to start somewhere. Maybe he started chopping bikes before True Blue, but this was the first custom soft-tail that Paul Teutul Sr. ever created. Paul Sr. reportedly wanted nothing to do with soft-tail bikes at first, but once he realized how much people loved them, he had no choice.
It made sense to get into the soft-tail world as a smart business decision, and it was working out quite well for Paul Sr. Obviously, there were numerous bumps along the way, but his career and life could have gone in a completely different direction if he ignored soft-tails as he initially planned to.
A man named Chris Tavantzis sued the Orange County Choppers in 2014, for what he thought was copyright infringement. Tavantzis was living with polio and was in a wheelchair for a significant amount of time. He claimed that he was the brains behind the idea for a wheelchair-accessible three-wheeled motorcycle; not Paul Sr. or his company.
He went on to say that back in 2008, he pitched the idea to the shop, which started to make them in 2010. The case was taken to court, but due to the wording of the original appeal, it was dismissed without prejudice from the courts. Tavantzis was given 14 days to change the wording and resubmit his appeal. Whether he did or didn’t remains unclear.
After a number of years being off the air, Paul Sr. and his son, Mikey, were trying to bring the appeal of their shop back to the masses. The Orange County Choppers weren’t doing too well, and the family was hoping fans of ‘American Chopper’ can help them get a new show off the ground. The company wanted to have more creative control of their show and asked for support through Patreon.
By funding their potential new show, the Teutuls thought that with creative control, they could show viewers who they really are. By paying, viewers were able to get exclusive access to content, including a live video chat with the shop owner, Paul Sr.
Their appeal was removed from the Patreon website, so it’s unclear if Paul Sr. and Mikey reached their goal. But in recent years, Orange County Choppers started sharing some videos on YouTube. The platform is a good way for fans to keep up with the family and the shop’s latest projects without waiting for it on TV.
The channel quickly gained 60 thousand followers, and this is just the beginning. For such a technologically advanced world, one platform wasn’t enough; you can find the Orange County Choppers all over different social media platforms. The company’s Instagram account currently has 264 thousand followers, which proves their fans’ dedication and interest in the shop years later.
A lot of people tuned into ‘American Chopper’ so that they can see the drama unfold between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. While the father and son were arguing, some people needed to hold down the shop and make sure things were getting done. One of these workers was Vinnie DiMartino, who often ignored the drama and focused on work.
Due to the Volatile nature of the shop, in 2007, Vinnie decided it was time for him to find another workplace. His talent quickly landed him a job in another garage, but he switched from two wheels to four. He founded his own shop focused on bikes, but then shut it down. After this, he founded DiMartino Motorsports – which fixed cars.
If you watched the show, you probably noticed that there was not much Paul Sr. and his son could agree on. However, both of them appreciated the talent and craftsmanship of Rick Petko, a fabricator and builder. Petko joined the crew shortly before season one of ‘American Chopper’ aired and proved to be a valuable member of the team.
When Paul Sr. and Paul Jr, split up into two different shops, Petko chose to stay with Paul Sr. but maintained a good relationship with the younger Paul. Rick was a good guy, and both Pauls were at his wedding in 2012. Rick loves his job at Orange County Choppers but ultimately decided that a 90-minute commute to and from work was too much and found a job closer to home.
Some of the arguments between the father-son duo on ‘American Choppers’ didn’t seem very Christian, but eventually, the younger Paul did find God. On the SOS Radio Podcast, Paul Jr. opened up about his personal life. He mentioned how he was able to have a much more meaningful relationship with his wife Rachael after he found God.
He admitted that even though he has always been Christian, he knows he wasn’t acting like one, especially at the beginning of his relationship with Rachael. After spending a weekend in a religious retreat, the reality star claims to have gotten some renewed clarity about himself. Whatever makes him change for the better.
After booking himself on a religious retreat, Paul Jr. found God and a new sense of purpose, and so did his wife. The couple moved in together while they were dating, but after Paul’s weekend retreat, they decided that Rachael should move out. In order to live a more Christian lifestyle, they committed to becoming celibate until they were husband and wife.
It lasted nine months until their wedding day came, and the pair could finally start their married life together. Rachael wasn’t religious before meeting Paul Jr., but she opened herself up to the idea. Nowadays, the couple believes that their bond was strengthened because of their commitment to faith and honoring religion together.
When Paul Jr. became committed to his faith and religion, he didn’t want his world to be empty. He followed through on the commitment he made and has since become actively involved in the church. He was also thrilled to take on speaking roles within his community.
Rachael also dove into the church community and is an active member. In his autobiography, ‘The Build: Designing My Life of Choppers, Family, and Faith,’ he makes it clear how significant the church is to his life. The book is meant to motivate people to express their God-given creativity and find ways to live life to the fullest.
There are numerous instances of Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. blowing up at each other during explosive fights, and for fans of the show, the drama was entertaining. The garage always seemed like an unstable environment, but everyone knew that the Pauls would make up at the end of the day. Sometimes their arguments got heated, but viewers were used to it.
There were a few times where the line was crossed, and a particular argument between the Pauls escalated to the point where there might not be a way to reconcile. Paul Sr. was getting sick of his son sleeping on the job and called him out on it. Paul Sr. went as far as to fire his son on the spot because of his bad attitude.
When we watched the meltdown in 2009, it was just the start of the war of words. The argument may have been the start of the strain between the father and son relationship. Things got so bad that the father and son went to court, each trying to get as much money as they can out of the other. Paul Sr. was not joking when he fired his son.
It wasn’t just an empty threat, and Paul Jr. was actually let go from OCC. However, he was still in a contract with TLC, meaning he needed to remain on the show. Since his spot on the reality series was secure, Paul Jr made his way back to his father’s shop. Paul Jr. was hired as an independent contractor, but this only made the fractured relationship between the father and son worse.
When Paul Jr. returned, he was hired on a consultant basis. In terms of his new contract, Paul Sr. had the option to buy out his son. Paul Sr. didn’t want to waste any time and was ready to buy Paul Jr. out of his business. However, Paul Jr. wasn’t going to make this easy. Paul Sr. tried suing his son for $1 million in damages, and the two ended up in court.
Paul Jr. wasn’t going down without a fight and wasn’t going to let his father bully him out of the business that he helped grow. Ultimately, Paul Jr. wasn’t terminated from the business and kept his place in the company. Paul Sr. realized it would be a lot harder for him to get rid of this son than he thought.
The biggest shame that came from ‘American Chopper’ is the ordeal between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. and their damaged relationship. A highlight of the series was showing the father and son settling their differences after the name-calling was over. Now that they were headed to court, it didn’t seem like there was any reconciling.
The show featured many touching moments of love and kindness between the father and son. Sadly, that’s something they may never get back. The two Pauls have very different perspectives and couldn’t see eye to eye. It was going to take something very special to bring them together. They finally got their chance for redemption in 2018, when the show was brought back.
As if dealing with his son wasn’t difficult enough, Paul Sr. found himself getting sued by another business partner. Thomas Derbyshire was the next man to take the Orange County Choppers to court. He made claims stating that he was financing a new show focused on Paul Sr. called ‘Orange County Choppers: American Made.’
The investor said he put down $1.8 million into the new show for a 51% stake of the business. Reportedly, right before filming, Paul Sr. wanted to renegotiate the terms and make the partnership and equal 50/50. Derbyshire alleged that Paul Sr. didn’t even use the investment money for the show or shop. Instead, he used it to pay off expenses for his garage.
Derbyshire claimed that after deciding to work with Paul Sr., he noticed that things weren’t all roses like the shop owner liked to think. The investor said that Paul Sr. misrepresented how well the garage was doing because he claimed they were making enough money to stay afloat. Derbyshire soon discovered that they were operating at a loss.
Even though these were just accusations, things weren’t looking so great at Orange County Choppers. The days were gone where Paul Sr. would make gold-plated custom choppers for the president of the United States. It seems only Paul Sr. would know how well the business is performing now.
After the show ended, Paul Sr. found himself in the courtroom a lot. After the escapades with his son, angry restaurant investors, and his former business partner, the shop owner found someone else to argue with. In 2018, Paul Sr. was involved in a lawsuit, following a clash between attorneys at JTM Motorsports.
The company claimed that Teutul made an agreement with them. In exchange for fixing his Corvette, the reality star was supposed to promote their business. As it turned out, Paul Sr. did not promote their company, so JTM Motorsports charged him $50 a day for housing his car. The fee is ongoing until the legal disputes can be settled.
The beef between Paul Sr. and JTM Motorsport seemed to be unending because neither side wanted to compromise. Eventually, both parties were required to undergo a period of mediation, where they should come to an agreement without the cost of involving a judge. The lawyers on both sides were willing to discuss the situation.
It was clear that Paul Sr. was getting frustrated during the discussion. Reportedly, he got sick of listening to the lawyers talk, got up, and screamed at someone from JTM to give him his car back. Then Paul Sr. supposedly lunged across the table at someone. The discussion was halted until Teutul was removed from the courthouse.
Paul Jr. managed to find love during the heated feud he had with his father. During an episode of ‘American Chopper,’ he met Rachael Biester, and the couple quickly fell in love. Even though they met while Paul Jr. was working at his dad’s shop, the father and son weren’t on speaking terms leading up to the wedding.
Marriages can bring people together and are an opportunity to repair damaged relationships, and Paul Sr. was invited to his son’s wedding. This could have been a moment to set aside their differences, but Paul Sr. didn’t accept the invitation. Unfortunately, he missed out on the most important day of his son’s life. But to be fair, they were in the middle of a court battle.
Paul Sr.’s falling out with Paul Jr. was pretty publicized, but Paul Sr. had another son who also didn’t have the greatest relationship with him at times. On ‘American Chopper,’ Mikey Teutul was seen as a guy helping around. He would empty garbage cans and answer phones before becoming a significant member of the team.
He wasn’t as passionate or intense as his brother and father were; he preferred to keep things as chill as possible. In 2012, he left the shop to focus on different projects and find himself, but he did want to work on his relationship with his dad. When Mikey thought the time was right, he returned to motorcycles and worked at his father’s shop, and also at his brother’s.
Even though Mikey wasn’t the most famous person, he wanted to use the fame he did have to highlight what he strongly believed was a problem in New York. The reality star made his own YouTube web series, where he wants to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness in New York. The youngest Tuetul always came across as sensitive, especially in comparison to his brother and father.
His YouTube channel was called ‘Bummin’ Around,’ and it features homeless people around New York City, and how they live their lives. In the show, Mikey gives the camera to a man who used to live in the streets for a period of time. He explained what it was like to live a nomadic existence.