'Counting Cars' Isn't 100 Percent Real, but Then Again, Neither Is Most Reality TV
'Counting Cars' fans want to know just how real the show is, and if there's any amount of fakeness happening behind the camera.
Nearly every reality TV program happens to have some level of production to it. Whether it's staging of cameras, asking on-air talent to repeat certain lines, or creating scenarios and situations for them to participate in, there's always a team "guiding" the action behind-the-scenes. However, there's a fine line between outright staging things for ratings, and doing some light production work here and there. So how much fakeness goes on in Counting Cars?
Is 'Counting Cars' entirely fake?
The History channel series follows Danny Koker and his team of gearheads at Count's Kustoms, an auto restoration and custom company that creates some pretty memorable and unique whips. The program's been around since Aug. 13, 2012 and has featured a litany of memorable guests like Elvira aka "Mistress of the Dark," Dee Snider, Ziggy Marley, among many others.
Sometimes, when a show's been on for several seasons, producers will want to "up the ante" in order to help keep things from going stale in order to keep viewers engaged. And sometimes that backfires in one of two ways: Either OG viewers get turned off because the program isn't what it used to be, or ratings stay steady or increase, but there's a huge air of BS that people begin sniffing out because things start getting staged.
Heck, Storage Wars was called out from one of the program's former stars for being completely and entirely staged. Units would be planted with items, certain personalities on the show were selected to get treasure-packed units, rare antique collectors were called up to feature their possessions in the program (for a fee, of course), and just a whole lot of other reportedly grimy activity occurred.
So, how much faking went on over the years with guys like Roli Szabo, Cowboy Steve, and Scott Jones?
While Danny Koker does state that everything on Counting Cars is real, the show is purportedly faking it up in some aspects. For one, the per project budgets aren't as strict as they are portrayed on the series. Neither are the "time limits" to get a job done on a particular vehicle. A lot of that is played up for camera to make it seem like there's a sense of urgency to the builds.
The topic of money or not having enough to use for a particular build is also completely bogus: Danny's shop is extremely successful, and History pays the cast members a decent salary on top of what they're already earning at their job. Then there's the fact that Danny came from a pretty well-to-do family and he owns other businesses, like a super profitable restaurant. So no, money isn't an issue for these folks.
Then there's the topic of "surprise" builds: No, those enhancements Danny and his boys make to the cars aren't done without the customer knowing. They're 100 percent privy to the work being done on these cars because no paying patron is going to be all right with modifications being done to their vehicle without their say-so or knowledge.
Finding sellers for the vehicles really isn't that difficult as the show makes it out to be, either. Most of Danny's custom whips are well taken care of and thanks to his celebrity status, offloading them for a decent price shouldn't be that hard. If you think the cars they're buying from these "random" folks are really by luck or happenstance, they're in talks with production well before they appear on camera.
Also, most of the people we see on the show working on the cars aren't the only ones actually working on the cars. There are tons of other folks off-camera who are making these custom monsters that shine so nicely for the viewers at home. Producers will often lie about the origins of a vehicle to dramatize them for camera, like an "abandoned" Chevy that was supposed to be in terrible shape, but the truth is it was decently maintained.
The show has entirely scripted conversations and back-and-forths between characters, and sometimes, Danny gets well-known car facts wrong, like being off about the year Chevy introduced the Corvette and the number of vehicles it originally produced for the now iconic American model. Also, the "sudden buys" Danny does are staged, but you probably already knew that. So, is Counting Cars fake? Yeah, a lot of it is, but this kind of fakery is fairly standard on reality TV.