American Chopper: 20 Less Than Flattering Facts About The Show

Love it or hate it, the American Chopper series has gained worldwide notoriety and has a massive fan base. The Teutul family sky-rocketed the success of the American Chopper to where it is today. The success of this show can partially be credited to the awesome builds and the obvious passion for custom-bikes that is shared among them all. However, the chaos and drama that each of these cast-members brought to the set of the show contributed to gaining traction with their fan base. This reality TV series aired in 2003 and followed the daily lives of the Teutual family as they ventured through life at the shop – and struggled with life with one another! Entertaining, quality television is never based on easygoing relationships, it’s always based on drama, and the Teutul‘s did not disappoint. Much of what is covered – and uncovered – leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s take a look at 20 Less Than Flattering Facts About The Show.

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20 Unable To Conceal Paul Sr's Addiction Issues

Via TheBlast

This is no secret. Unfortunately for Paul, life on the small screen meant that his entire personal life would be exposed as part of the natural process of fame. His issues with addiction in various forms were made public for the world to see, and we all quickly became aware of the fact that his first marriage suffered as a result of this. During the filming of the show, his outrageous antics and aggressive behavior can largely be attributed to his addiction issues, which he now claims to have under control.

19 Paul Sr. Wasn’t At Paul Jr.’s Wedding

Via YouTube

It’s certainly no secret that ongoing feuds between Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. were a constant issue for both the show, and for their personal lives as well. When Paul Jr. tied the knot with Rachael Biester in August of 2010, Paul Sr. was invited, but declined to attend. The father and son were in the middle of an ugly court battle at the time. He will forever be known as the guy who didn’t show up at his son’s wedding. We’re sure this added fuel for the fire and made for better TV on the show – but it’s definitely a bad move for their personal lives.

18 The Father & Son Fights Were Real

Via YouTube

On some level we’re sure you’ve all wondered if the Paul Sr. Vs Paul Jr. fights were dramatized for the show, or at the very least, finessed to make for more entertaining television. Discovery Channel publications attested that this is was in fact real, family drama. These two men really couldn’t find any equilibrium for a very long time, and sadly, the vile treatment they displayed towards one another was very, very real, and far from what viewers would have hoped for any father-son relationship.

17 There Are Numerous Internal Familiar Lawsuits

Via Wiki

Sadly, the facts are true on this one. The Teutul family was internally battling not just on air, but behind closed doors in the courtroom as well. The most famous and publicized lawsuit that took place between the family members was about the on-air firing of Paul Jr. Farrell Fritz Attorneys report extensively about this feud and explain the discrepancies about the value of their shares of the business. Ultimately, they were forced to patch up their disagreements in order to maintain their contract to stay on-air with the Discovery Channel.

16 They Had Legal Issues With Copyright Infringement


The good folks at American Choppers are not strangers to the courtroom scene. RecordonLine reports that Paul Teutul Sr. was sued for $1.4 million, stating copyright infringement as the reason for this issue. There were some issues surrounding the merchandise, products, and money that was transferred, and accusations were made that Paul filed for bankruptcy – after transferring these funds to safety. This is one lawsuit of many – there are too many to list, which added to the chaos both and off the set of this reality TV show.

15 The Teutul’s Were 2nd Choice

Via TVGuide

We are aware of what the success of the show is today, but what would American Chopper have actually been like if the network had secured the cast they actually wanted. In case you missed it, the Teutul family was their second choice. According to a Forbes interview with Craig Piligian, the producer of the series, the Teutuls were a last minute shoe-in, after he lost his flavor for his first pic, claiming he didn’t believe they “had the right mindset”. We wonder how he feels about his decision now….

14 The Stars Of This Show Were Aggressive

Via Scribbol

What would you do if your father fired you from work, on national television? While we may all handle this situation differently, it’s sad to see that Paul Teutul’s reaction to this situation was to launch a chair at his dad. Most episodes of American Chopper were a clear demonstration of anger issues, aggressive behavior, and physical violence. This show will forever be associated with physical aggressiveness.

13 Not Everyone Cared About The Show

Via Design By Joyce

Mikey wasn’t as hell-bent on running a custom bike shop as the rest of his family was. Clearly not the most mechanically skilled of the siblings, he was often the butt of many jokes and was seen loafing and generally failing at the most menial tasks. He became more of a therapist and social worker to his feuding family than a valuable employee of the shop. Between taking an absence from the show to deal with his issues with addiction, and then leaving the show altogether in 2012, it’s obvious that Mikey wasn’t really keen on living this lifestyle or following in the footsteps of his family, or of the American Chopper franchise.

12 Paul Jr Took Many Of Paul Sr’s Employees Away From The Show

Given the tumultuous lifestyle that developed through the filming of this show, it’s no wonder that Paul Jr. gave up on it entirely and chose to try something different. He launched his own company called Paul Jr.Designs and found success in his own right. He’s designed for many big names such as March of Dimes and Geico, but not without some drama of his own. In true Teutul fashion, Paul Jr. snatched up many of his dad’s employees and took them under his own wing at his new shop. Robert, Vinnie, Joe and of course his own brother, Mikey, were all recruited to Paul Jr. Designs.

11 Endless Lawsuits

Via CelebLiveUpdate

This show seemed to bring about the worst of everyone. It was clearly a toxic environment to film a reality television series, but of course, that made people tune in and helped their numbers to increase. Not even Cody left the show without bitterness and legal action. According to TMZ, he sued Paul Teutul Sr. for breach of contract and fraud, among some smaller, lesser charges. He claimed his brand name was used on American Chopper without his permission, and proceeds from merchandise sales were not received.

10 They Have Serious Financial Issues, Now Affecting The Show

Via RecordOnLine

All good things must end, right? That was certainly true for American Chopper and the family business. When the show was on air, life was good and the money kept pouring in. However, when it went off the air, the high paying corporate jobs ceased to exist and funds dried up quickly. Paul Sr. eventually revealed that his shop was filing bankruptcy. PageSix reported that he stated the truth about his finances and then declared the shop will do “anything to make money”, including repairing quads, snowmobiles, and cars”.

9 There Was A Scandal With Steroids


Scandals flew fast and furious around this show, and they were not able to keep the media out of this one. In 2011, Times Union declared that Paul Teutul’s name had appeared on a list kept by a dentist by the name of James D’Amico. Reports stated he had been caught providing steroids to clients and of course, Paul was the recipient of very large quantities over a 4 year period. The world watched as he showed off his physique – so this was perhaps less of a scandal and more so confirmation on what viewers were already thinking…

8 They Tried To Crowdfund For Their New Show

Via 1051

Times got tough and the Teutul’s saw the opportunity to launch an online new show by crowdfunding. The Looper website pegs this as taking place back in 2017, and state that it was a Patreon page that they were attempting to gain success with. The Teutul’s made a humble appeal for the donations to launch the show but the account was closed before it reached the targeted $6k due to some sort of violation of use. This web-series never saw the light of day. Maybe they shouldn’t have messed up American Chopper the way they did- they had a pretty good deal there!

7 The Show Lost Some Real Talent

Via Rideapart

Viewers of American Chopper loved Vinnie. He was often the mature voice of reason, yet had a light air about him that kept things comical and created a fun work environment. Vinnie was a dedicated employee and a true staple to not just the show itself, but the custom builds that were in progress. Sadly, good people won’t let their talent go to waste, and with the demise of the family’s relationship and the show overall, Vinnie left the show completely. He created V-Force Customs and later changed the name to DiMartino Motorsports. He took Cody with him and we’re sure they had a much more normal lifestyle with less drama after the big move!

6 Paul Sr. Is No Stranger To Fraud

In February of 2018, TMZ broke the story that Paul Sr. had allegedly been committing fraud in his business. He was accused by Thomas Derbyshire of misappropriating funds that were given to him for the purpose of bringing American Chopper back to life. Derby had made a sizable investment to the show Orange County Choppers : American Made for A&E, but Paul didn’t use the funds as agreed, and reportedly tried to change the balance of their partnership to a 50/50 stake, which was not their initial agreement.

5 Paul Sr.’s Home Went Into Foreclosure

Via TheBlast

It seems that the show was the demise of Paul Sr. in so many ways. His addiction followed him to the start of his fame, which amplified the family feuds, and so the story goes. When the show took a nosedive, the big accounts stopped rolling in, and Paul was no longer able to keep his creditors happy. His mismanaged finances took their final tumble when his home was foreclosed upon in February of 2018. Perhaps his issues played a role in the demise of the show.

4 Paul Sr Has No Knowledge Of Social Media At All

Via RecordOnLine

In an interview with VICE in April of 2018, Teutul went on an unclear rambling rant about how he isn’t savvy with his phone. In reference to a question about whether not he knew what a meme was, he responded by saying “…I’m not so savvy with social media so I didn’t even really kind of care what it was. So no. Did I know what a meme was? Absolutely not. Now I do”. We’re pretty sure the producers wouldn’t be impressed by any of this.

3 Daddy Actually Fired His Son

Via DailyDot

Well that doesn’t happen every day. It’s not often that a father will turn his back on his son by firing him from the family business. It’s an even bigger blow when it happens on national television, live and unedited. This is a bit of a catch-22 since the show used to thrive on the drama this family seemed to so effortlessly generate, yet that very drama was precisely what led to Paul Jr. getting fired. Despite the fact that this family had a long standing history of feuding both on the show and off the show, the chair launching incident was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back.

2 The Birth Of A Competing Company…

Via Affairpost

According to the report by Discovery Channel, part of the contractual deal that Paul Sr. had with his son was a non-compete clause that prevented him from starting his own company within a year. The moment the clock was up on that little detail, Paul started his own company. While we’re aware of the fact that he opened up his own place, the timing of this is what’s really relevant. It demonstrates the mean-spirited nature of their relationship and the ongoing feud that had yet to fizzle out. He was clearly so upset about being fired by his father that he patiently waited out the one year clause, all the while making plans to compete against him. It sure seems that this show brought out the worst in everyone!

1 The Show Was Intended As A Special, But Gained Popularity

Via Dupont

One of the most shocking things we uncovered about this show is surely one the producers never wanted us to stumble upon. According to the article released by Heavy, the original American Chopper premiered as a special in 2002 and was not intended to be anything more than that. The quick rise in the number of viewers was the reason the show blew up the way it did, and the Teutul family feuds surely played a large part in engaging a massive audience. It was reported by Heavy that at one point there were 3.4 million viewers per episode! It’s sad to see this show fall from grace the way it did.

Sources: TMZ, PageSix, Heavy, Looper, RecordonLine

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