Motorheads fanatic and famous are down with the Count


Walking into Danny Koker's shop off Highland Drive feels like entering an automotive and motorcycle museum.

The 45-year-old founder of Count's Kustoms is a car and bike aficionado who over the last decade has built an impressive customer base of people who share his motorized passion.

Koker's shop has built custom choppers for rock singer Ozzy Osbourne, country singers Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Matt Hughes and members of the rock band Motley Crue.

Koker's passion for cars and motorcycles was sparked at a young age. His father, along with a number of family members, worked at Ford Motor Co.

Koker's collection, which his father started in the 1970s and features 55 cars and eight motorcycles in museum condition, includes the only 1932 Ford Roadster in existence.

If you're interested in buying one of Koker's prized possessions, be prepared to pay.

"If somebody wants it worse than me, I suppose I'd sell it," said Koker, who got his first motorcycle, a Honda 100, when he was 8. "But I don't want to insult people and give them a stupid number when they know it's not worth that. But it's worth that to me because there's a reason I have it. There are a few that are not for sale, hands down."

Koker also has a passion for music, fed by his father who worked in gospel music, and ranges from Pat Boone to Johnny Cash and Mahalia Jackson.

Koker's family toured the world with evangelist Rex Humbard, with a young Danny Koker as a singer.

His passions led to a business relationship with Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil. The pair owns a tattoo shop and a rock bar and grill in Las Vegas and are looking to expand their business relationship.

Question: What type of motorcycles do you build?

Answer: The bikes are anywhere from a full custom, ground-up build where we start with, literally nothing, and build it from the ground up for the customer. It can be anything from long-ridged choppers, which are my personal favorite and what I ride on a regular basis, to pro street bikes, soft-tail bikes, bagger bikes. We do them all. I've also had a lot of customers bring me their existing bikes and want (them) personalized. We also do a ton of service work; oil changes, tuneups, brake work.

Question: Why do you enjoy collecting and building cars and bikes? Is it for the value or something else?

Answer: For me, it's all about the love affair with the cars and bikes. There are some vehicles that have a really strong value, and I feel fortunate for that, but that's not why they're here. They're here because I can tell you why I love each and every one of these things. It's an honest love affair with cars and bikes. I get offers all the time. I don't want to be rude, but people have got to understand that these are here for a reason. They're here because I love them.

Question: Who are your customers?

Answer: Because so many things we've done have been so high-profile and crazy, we've been fortunate enough to collect some really high-profile, celebrity-type customers, which is great because it gets us some publicity for the company. That being said, being a true motorhead and a passionate guy about it, I love everybody that comes here. I don't care if somebody's got an '84 El Camino and he barely has two nickels to rub together but he's passionate about it, and he wants somebody who is also passionate about it. Bring your stuff down here and let's do it.

Question: Who was your first high-profile client?

Answer: Ozzy Osbourne. We built him a full custom chopper from the ground up and it was absolutely stunning. It's arguably one of my favorite things that came out of this shop. He can actually ride, but it was more of a showpiece for him. It lived in his house for a while.

Question: How did your partnership with Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil develop?

Answer: It really started from a bad business deal gone right. A guy was doing some sort of scam with motorcycles and celebrities, and I am not sure exactly what he was doing. He came to me and talked about building certain motorcycles for certain people and Vince Neil happened to be one of them. I was the guy in the background behind the middleman and Vince. Partway through the build, the middleman had revealed himself as the con man he truly was, and it was bad. I figured out what he was doing and went right around him and called Vince. I invited him down to the shop to look at his bike and told him what (was) going on. So he came down and that's when we actually met. He did some research and came back to me and thanked me. Vince and I became friends out of that. Vince started with a chopper from me, and then I later built a '32 Ford, five-window chop-top coupe for him.

Question: Now you have a tattoo shop and a rock club together.

Answer: Yes, out of that, Vince and I grew to like each other as friends. We hang out whenever he's in town. From there, there was just a real comfort level between us. We're both of the same mindset in the entrepreneurial type of a mind, so we decided to do some business together. Initially, we were going to do a tattoo shop together. But before we got that done we ended up doing Feelgoods Rock Bar & Grill up on West Sahara (Avenue). Then Vince and I opened the tattoo shop Vince Neil Ink at the Rio. Both were designed by my team here at the shop. So when you go into these two establishments, you will see the work done by hot rod, motorcycle builders. Everything in there is custom.

Question: How many people work for you?

Answer: About 50, but this is not about me. I am surrounded by wonderful people. I don't only collect really cool cars, I collect really cool people. I can't stress enough the word team. This is definitely not about me at all. I can't do any of this without the team. This whole time line, throughout all of these years, I've been collecting wonderful people and we've all been together a long time. If it weren't for that team that I have, none of this would be possible at all.

Question: How did you get the name "Count?"

Answer: Starting in 1991, I began hosting a television show for 10 years on the WB. It was a late-night horror program called "Saturday Fright at the Movies," with your host Count Cool Rider. CC Rider was a vampire that loved Elvis and lived in Vegas. It was a really bizarre thing and it caught on like wildfire. I was the count and that's why the car business is Count's Kustoms. You go by the name Count for 10 years and pretty soon everybody just calls you that. So the lines got blurry between Danny Koker and Count Cool. The new owners (of the TV station) kept it on for three years and would have kept it on longer but I opted to pull it.

Question: Your family worked as musicians with the evangelist Rex Humbard when you were younger. Are you still religious?

Answer: Religious is not a good word. I have a firm belief in God. Absolutely good straightforward personal relationship one-on-one with the Man. I'm not a big fan of organized religion. I'm a fan of the Man upstairs. Organized religion can be so corrupt and I'm not a fan of that. I actually just read the Bible cover to cover. Do you know many people who have done that?

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

 

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