From left, Scott Jones, Kevin Mack and Danny Koker.
Jim Motavalli
From left, Scott Jones, Kevin Mack and Danny Koker.
 

If you’ve seen “Counting Cars,” the reality show on the A&E Network’s History, you’re used to the sight of Danny Koker, known as the Count, and his best buddy, Kevin Mack, cruising the streets of Las Vegas in search of restoration projects for their Count’s Kustoms shop. They spot old cars and trucks in parking lots, peeking out of garages and sometimes even cruising in the next lane. Some they restore and pass on to new owners whose smiling faces are displayed prominently on the show. Other cars Mr. Koker keeps; he owns at least 58 cars and 10 motorcycles.

Classic cars are harder to spot in Manhattan, which is where Mr. Koker, Mr. Mack and Scott Jones, the shop manager/bookkeeper, were on Wednesday. In an interview at the A&E network offices, the three talked about their car-buying strategy. “If it has a ‘for sale’ sign, it’s already too late,” Mr. Mack said. And Mr. Koker offered a diverse wish list of automobiles that he somehow doesn’t already own. The show features a lot of classic American muscle, but Mr. Koker has rather broad automotive taste.

Here are a few of his top picks:

 

Corvette Mako Shark

The two Mako Sharks were General Motors concept cars in the 1960s. During the 1970s, Motion Performance on Long Island built fewer than 10 full replicas of the later car as the “Maco Shark” and also sold hundreds of kits that could transform the look of post-1968 Corvettes, according to Martyn Schorr, a company spokesman and author of a book on the company. He said a “spectacular show car” built from such a kit might be worth $50,000. “I really love that look,” Mr. Koker said. “It’s not a hugely valuable piece, just something cool I like.”

 

Bill Mitchell, the General Motors designer, with a 1959 Corvette Stingray concept (background) and a 1961 Corvette Mako Shark concept.
General Motors
Bill Mitchell, the General Motors designer, with a 1959 Corvette Stingray concept (background) and a 1961 Corvette Mako Shark concept.
 
 

Lamborghini Miura SV

The Miura was a high-performance two-seat Italian sports car built from 1966 to 1972, and the SV designation added more horsepower to an already very fast vehicle. “My buddy has a 1972,” Mr. Koker said. “His car is a one-off built for the auto show in New York that year.”

Stutz Blackhawk

Mr. Koker owns a mechanically restored 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible built by Dunham Coach of New Jersey in the style of the ostentatiously customized Eldorado the company made for the 1972 film “Superfly.” A sighting of a similar car in Detroit in the early 1970s made a lasting impression on him. The Stutz Blackhawk, built on a G.M. chassis starting in the early 1970s, was built along the same outrageous lines. Mr. Koker, a fan of over-the-top 1970s style, notes that Elvis Presley was a very early Stutz owner. Dean Martin put the license plate “DRUNKY” on a Blackhawk, and fellow Rat Packer Sammy Davis Jr. also owned one.


Bizzarrini

Only really devoted fans of European supercars even know these cars – built by Giotto Bizzarrini, a former Ferrari engineer – exist. The original enterprise that bore the Bizzarrini name closed in 1969 after producing only a handful of lovely cars. “I like them a lot, but I’m not sure of the specific model,” Mr. Koker said.

 

A 1967 Bizzarrini P538.
Brett Weinstein/Wikimedia Commons
A 1967 Bizzarrini P538.
 

Mr. Koker, who began his television life as the auto restoration expert on the show “Pawn Stars,” said his collection is very eclectic. “If you saw the cars together, you wouldn’t believe they were owned by the same guy,” he said. Car hunting around Las Vegas is fruitful, he said, because the bodies tend to survive well in the dry desert climate, though rubber parts, interiors and paint are often shot.

“Counting Cars,” which is continuing with new episodes, has really helped the shop’s business, Mr. Jones said, and there’s a three-year waiting list to have cars restored at Count’s Kustoms.

“The show allows us to do what we really do,” said Mr. Koker who admitted to being addicted not just to restoring cars, but also to buying them for his own expanding collection.

 

 

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