Since 2003, car enthusiast Mike Brewer, designer Ant Anstead, and master mechanic Edd China have all worked to buy, restore, and resell vintage cars in the reality series Wheeler Dealers. But the show is more than cosmetic touchups and hardcore tuneups. A lot goes on behind the scenes.
From the award ceremony Brewer founded to some of the restorations not paying off, here are some fun-fueled facts about the British car series.
Edd China Created The Fastest Road-Legal Couch In The World
Mechanic Edd China has always had a passion for cars, specifically mechanics. He is such an enthusiast that he actually made the fastest road-legal couch in the world!
China created “Casual Sofa,” a couch that wound up winning a Guinness World Record for the fastest road-legal vehicle, going a solid 87 miles per hour. The sofa is even equipped with a pizza box steering wheel! Talk about a custom job.
Mike Brewer’s Always Been Into Cars
Mike Brewer, the car enthusiast on Wheeler Dealers, is one of those lucky people who found his passion very early in life. Ever since he was a teenager, Brewer has had a passion for cars.
He knew that one day he’d make a career out of his love for automobiles. Eventually, he entered the car trade, making a name for himself as one of the most honest people in the business.
Ant Anstead Had A Career In Law Enforcement
Before making his way into the entertainment industry and hosting Wheeler Dealers, Ant Anstead had a very successful career in law enforcement. Starting in 1999, he joined the police force at Hertfordshire Constabulary, becoming a Police Constable.
Then, he moved to the Chestnut police station, where he joined the Tactical Firearms Team. During his time as a police officer, Anstead was honored with two commendations for acts of bravery. He retired from the force in 2005.
Mike Brewer Ended Up In The Middle Of A Firefight
In 2010, Wheeler Dealer host Mike Brewer was in Afghanistan, filming a segment for the series Frontline Battle Machines. His main focus for the episode was a Chinook helicopter flown by a British army pilot, Lt. Ian Fortune.
Little did he know that the helicopter was going to land in the middle of a firefight. According to Brewer, “the Chinook landed in a firefight. There was a battle going on. On the way in, we could never have imagined it would become this kind of mission.”
China Turned A Milk Float Into A Drag Racing Machine
Apparently, Wheeler Dealers mechanic Edd China has a knack for making it into the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2012, he broke the record for the world’s fastest milk float.
That year, he and his friend Tom Onslow-Cole took on the eBay-sponsored challenge: turning a milk float into a drag racer. Considering the World Record status, it’s safe to say that they won the challenge and then some.
Mike Brewer’s Show Biz Career Started With A Lucky Phone Call
Mike Brewer was a car dealer from South London. But the universe had other things in mind — the entertainment industry. While Brewer had never thought about television or hosting a series, something lucky happened.
He wound up picking up a friend’s cellphone while they were hanging out. On the other end of the line, there just so happened to be a television producer. After they talked for a few hours, Brewer was hired to host his first-ever series Deals On Wheels.
Ant Anstead Is A Man Of Many Talents
Aside from being a former host of Wheeler Dealers, Ant Anstead has embarked on many different career paths. From 1999-2005, he was a police officer, and for over 15 years, he played semi-professional football (soccer) at Ryman level.
He’s even a successful author! Anstead published two books in 2018, Cops and Robbers: The Story of the British Police Car and Petrol Head Parenting: The Essential Guide to Diagnosing and Nurturing a Petrol Head.
Mike Brewer Founded And Hosts The Used Car Awards
Mike Brewer started as a car dealer in London, moving on to be a television host for multiple car restoration shows. As such, he’s a huge proponent of the used car community. He even founded the annual Used Car Awards.
Each year, Brewer hosts the ceremony, naming the winners of the various Used Car of the Year categories. Of course, before naming the cars, he gets behind the wheel to make sure they’re worthy of the title!
2014 Was A Big Year For Ant Anstead
In 2014, more than one big thing happened to former Wheeler Dealers host Ant Anstead. That year, he founded a TV production company and began his own show. The series, The World’s Most Expensive Cars, has Anstead going behind the scenes with car hunters at the iconic RM Sotheby auction house.
That year, he also teamed up with British actor Philip Glenister to host the series For The Love Of Cars.
They Lost $4,288.59 On The 1975 AMC Pacer
During season 12, episode five of Wheeler Dealers, the guys bring in what is perhaps one of the biggest jokes in the automotive world, the 1975 AMC Pacer. This compact hatchback cost Mike Brewer a solid $4,223.48 and, after the complete restoration, the “Dealers” put in a solid $11,177.94 into the car.
Unfortunately, all of their hard work didn’t pay off in the slightest. Since the car isn’t exactly something most people want in their garage, they wound up losing $4,288.59.
Over 13 Seasons, Over 100 Cars Have Been Restored
Since 2003, Mike Brewer and his co-hosts, Ant Anstead and then Edd China, have restored over 100 cars on Wheeler Dealers. The series is pretty much a vintage car enthusiasts’ dream.
According to Discovery Channel, “Mike Brewer struck the heart and the toolbox of petrolheads all over the world. Mike and the team have made 13 series and restored 100 cars. At the end of series 13, Edd decided to leave the show and was replaced with fellow British mechanic and car designer Ant Anstead.”
China Sells His Funky Creations At Cummfy Banana Limited
Edd China is known for designing and making funky creations, such as a motorized couch and milk float drag car. In 1999, he founded Cummfy Banana Limited, a company where he actually promotes and sells his designs!
Cummfy Banana Limited has also been featured on the two ITV series Pulling Power and This Morning. The people who come through that shop and purchase China’s work are probably quite interesting individuals.
The Chinas Keep Business In The Family
Edd China is married to Imogen. And, as it turns out, the Chinas have decided to keep pretty much all of their business ventures within the family. Imogen is not only Edd’s manager, but she is also the director of his company, Cummfy Banana Limited, and has held a number of other jobs over the years.
The family is also part of various charity organizations, including the anti-trafficking foundation Stella’s Voice.
Ant Anstead’s Marriage Was A Secret
Ant Anstead began dating HGTV’s Flip or Flop host Christina El Moussa in 2017. The two dated for about a year before Anstead proposed. Somehow, they were able to keep that information to themselves.
On December 22, 2018, they invited their friends and family to their Newport Beach home. The invite stated that it was nothing more than a holiday party. To the guests’ surprise, it was actually the couple’s wedding.
A Volkswagen Transporter Went To The Cameraman
One of the funkiest cars to come through Wheeler Dealers was a Volkswagen Transporter. While they bought the van for $1,518.44, the Dealers wound up losing $3,209.43 at the end of the day.
They lost so much money because the cameraman wanted to purchase the van at the end of the season three episode. They gave it to him at a very low price, and it became one of the biggest losses of the show.
Mike Brewer Owns The Biggest 4×4 Center
As previously mentioned, Wheeler Dealers host Mike Brewer has had a lifelong passion for autos. This love of vehicles turned into a career, with him becoming one of the most sought-after and respected people in the business.
Eventually, Brewer became the owner of the largest 4×4 center in South England, a center that catered to pretty much everything and even imported cars from around the globe.
The Move To The USA Wasn’t Liked By Die-Hard Fans
When Wheeler Dealers first aired, it was on the Discovery Channel in the UK. For the first eight seasons, fans of the series enjoyed the UK-based vintage car restoration show.
Then, the show moved across the pond to be filmed in America. Eventually, they began to film there full-time. The original fans of the show weren’t overly thrilled with the move, as the series began to focus solely on American-made cars.
A Spin-Off Series Was Created
In 2013, ten years after the first-ever Wheeler Dealers episode aired, a spin-off series made its television debut. Wheeler Dealers: Trading Up followed host Mike Brewer as he traveled around the world, buying and selling used cars — his specialty.
Unlike the original series, Trading Up doesn’t have a restoration factor. It all has to do with selling used cars for the best possible price. As of 2013, there have been two seasons.
It’s All About A Car’s Emotional Value
The entire premise around Wheeler Dealers is the hosts going around, finding used vintage cars, restoring them, and selling them. However, it’s actually not that simple. Mike Brewer and Edd China didn’t just pick any car for the series.
They made sure to pick cars that held some emotional value — cars they really liked. Brewer once said that they chose “iconic cars that have a character” and can appeal to the audience (i.e., fellow car lovers).
They Have A Soft Spot For Porsche
While Mike Brewer and his co-hosts have bought, restored, and sold a lot of cars during their time on Wheeler Dealers, they have a soft spot for a specific manufacturer — Porsche.
They tend to give special attention to this specific car because of their air-cooled engines, something Edd China happens to be an expert in. Not only that, but Porsches are very fun to drive, so it’s hard to pass one up when it comes along!
The Correct Parts Are Always On Hand
Having rare and custom parts on-site is a trick for many car shows, including Counting Cars. This means Count’s Kustoms doesn’t actually have all of the parts on hand. The fact is, the series tends to use rare parts that might take days or weeks to track down.
So, having them in the shop during filming isn’t exactly plausible. But viewers can’t wait around for weeks while Danny and his crew to get the parts, so the process is edited together, making it seem like everything is right there in the shop.
There Is A Strict Budget
Known for arguing over prices with potential sellers and walking away from cars, Danny Koker’s employees see him as a stickler with money. However, he’s also known for putting a dent in the company’s wallet with his wild and complex restorations.
So, is money important or not? The answer: not. While it might seem like Koker is on a budget, he’s not. The show is willing to pay whatever the cost for those rare cars and their restorations.
There Are Only A Few Guys Working In The Shop
A common stunt that car shows pull is making it look like only a dozen or so guys work in the shop, and Counting Cars is no different. During restoration projects, the series has only a few men working on the cars.
And they make it look as though only a handful of others are walking around the shop. In truth, there is a huge support staff that is never seen on camera, including other men who work in the shop.
Going To See Random Car Owners
One of the main elements of Counting Cars is Koker riding around, spotting cars, and making deals on the spot with random people. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t necessarily what happens.
The scouting process takes a potential customer. They want cars that will make for great remodels and look for people who have a good “tough luck” story.
“Surprise” Enhancements Without The Customer’s Knowledge
Like many car enthusiasts, Koker and his team enjoy restoring the cars that come into the shop and adding on special enhancements. They’ll add some fancy rims or a new paint job, all at no cost and without the customer’s knowledge.
The thing is, these “surprises” aren’t surprises at all. Koker and his team discuss the enhancements at length before doing anything to a car, having the customer sign off before any changes are made. Their surprised face is all for show.
Danny’s Humble Beginnings Aren’t So Humble
Throughout the series, Danny Koker characterizes himself as a down-to-earth car guy who comes from humble beginnings. Well, that’s not exactly true. While he might be a laid-back guy, Koker’s childhood was anything but humble.
Growing up, his father, Danny Sr., played the piano for some of the greats, including Pat Boone and Johnny Cash. The money he made performing was enough to indulge in his car fascination, an expensive hobby he passed on to his son.
The Garage Isn’t Always Running Low On Funds
One thing fans of Counting Cars might notice is how Danny and his employees are constantly talking about how they need to flip cars to make money ASAP. They make it sound like the garage is about to go under when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, Count’s Kustoms is very far in the green, making a nice paycheck from the show’s success as well as its supplemental income from Danny’s restaurant and tattoo parlor. Basically, their cash crisis is an act.
Casual Celebrity Drop-Ins
During select Counting Cars episodes, casual celebrity drop-ins occur. So, Koker might work on the cars of famous people such as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and once he even had country rockstar Andy Ross come by for enhancements.
Obviously, these are anything but casual stop-ins. As it turns out, the series openly invites celebrities to come on, usually for some promotional deal. It’s even rumored they get a tiny fee for making an appearance, so it’s a win-win.
The Crazy Crew Members
Reality TV is known for producing some crazy characters, and Counting Cars is no different. Koker’s garage is full of nutty people, like Mike Henry, aka Horny Mike, an airbrush artist who wears intricate horns attached to his bandanas.
People who have visited the shop on a non-filming day have said that the characters shown on TV are just that, characters. The guys who work in the shop aren’t nearly as crazy as they appear on the show.
The Time It Takes To Restore A Car
One aspect of reality TV viewers can rely on is drama. When it comes to Counting Cars, it’s not necessarily day-to-day drama between people, but more so what happens to employees when they’re given a ridiculous time limit on car restorations.
The fact of the matter is, the time limits presented on the show are only there to build up tension since it’s impossible to make a car restoration in the matter of one or two afternoons — they take much longer than that.
Danny Having Trouble Selling Cars
To viewers, it’s obvious how attached Koker is to some of his rare cars, whether it’s because of how he wound up owning the car, its historical significance, or how much work he put into its restoration. Yet, Counting Cars make it seem as though he has a hard time selling them off.
Considering how rare Koker’s assortment of cars is, plus his celebrity status, finding a collector to buy the car isn’t nearly as hard as the series makes it out to be.
Koker’s Anti-Environmentalist Statements
Like a lot of gearheads, Koker isn’t too fond of all of the regulations and environmental rules on cars. A common theme in Counting Cars is Koker complaining about having to switch out a classic part for something that meets the modern regulations.
He’s known to go on rants about environmentalism being a game played by politicians, something that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Well, he might be embellishing his stance a bit while on camera to gain more motorhead viewers.
Scott Jones’ Dramatic Departure From The Show
From season one through three, Scott Jones was a common face around Counting Cars. He was the shop’s money manager, and therefore had an important part to play in pretty much everything. Then the third season happened, and Jones left on a strange note.
Rumors began floating around that he was embezzling money when in truth, he left to open his own garage. Apparently, Koker wanted to use the more dramatic narrative because it makes for better TV.
Knowing The Origins Of Every Car
When Koker and his team work on a car, they typically go into the vehicle’s backstory. And while they sound knowledgeable, their stories aren’t always accurate or the truth. During one episode, they talked about how a horrible-looking Chevy was found abandoned.
After the episode aired, fans went to the internet, learning the truth about the car’s actual origins, which were pretty cool! Unfortunately, Counting Cars tweaks origin stories more often than not to make it sound more interesting.
Shop Conversations Are Scripted
Koker and his team have worked together for years, so it would make sense that their conversations would be easy, friendly, and unscripted. As it turns out, that is not the case. A majority of the conversations between castmates are scripted, including jokes and arguments.
Unfortunately, the editing of scripted bits makes the conversation way too clean, the cast insincere sounding, and the drama seemingly fake because it’s been pieced together. Pretty much, little is ad-libbed.
Multiple Projects At Once
Counting Cars typically shows Koker and his team working on multiple projects at once, going into detail about each of the cars and giving them the same amount of care. For something that is portrayed as a one-day job, it’s hard to believe.
Well, that’s because it’s fake. Each restoration project takes at least a week to complete, meaning the footage is edited together to give the illusion that each of the cars was completed in a day.
Koker Is A Know-All Car Expert
Since he’s the star in a reality show about cars, one would think Koker would know a thing or two about the series’ main aspect. And even though he portrays himself as this know-it-all car expert, the truth is, he isn’t.
While Koker is obviously very passionate about cars and knows more than the average person, it doesn’t mean he knows everything. Fans have caught him stating more than one inaccurate fact on the show, for which he never corrects himself.
Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed
In the show Counting Cars, customers are seen wearing smiles, laughing, and always enjoying their time in the shop. And the workers are always shown as professionals who get the job done in a timely manner. Well, don’t believe everything on TV!
As it turns out, reviews have other things to say. A lot of customers have ranted about the poor service they experienced at the shop because their car wasn’t featured on the show and they feel they were charged unfairly.
Buying Cars With Little To No Negotiation
Counting Cars shows Koker driving out of the shop, down the road, and stumbling across a car on the side of the road. He’s then seen in negotiations with the owner, throwing out an incredibly low bid that is somehow accepted.
All of this is done with little to no negotiation, and it’s all staged. The car and its owner were scouted prior to filming, and they’ve already made a deal on the car. Usually, the buying price is much higher than what is shown on TV.
Danny Acting Like He Doesn’t Own Pretty Much Everything
Oddly enough, Danny doesn’t act or look like he’s the boss at Count’s Kustoms during Counting Cars. Instead, the series makes the shop manager, Kevin Mack, look like he’s running the show, laying out budgets, and discussing various projects with Danny.
And while Danny acts as though he has little input, the truth is he owns then place and is a producer on the show. So, he’s pretty much calling all the shots even if it doesn’t look like it.
Roli Szabo’s Trailer Getting Stolen
When working around a shop full of rare cars and parts, it’s best to take extra caution when closing up for the night. But sometimes it’s not that easy, as shop detailer Roli Szabo can attest.
In early 2017, the detailer had his custom-painted trailer stolen. Inside the trailer was thousands of dollars worth of high-end detailing equipment he used for his day-to-day projects as well as those on the Counting Cars.
Joseph Frontiera Used Company Money For A Range Rover
In 2016, former Counting Cars star and Count’s Kustoms employee Joseph Frontiera was accused of using company funds for non-shop related expenses. Using a nice sum of money, Frontiera put a down payment on a Range Rover and bought a few personal airline tickets.
On top of those two purchases, he was also accused of not paying the shop’s income taxes on time, something he was in charge of doing. Count’s Kustoms was hit with a major fine.
They’re Followed With Cameras At All Times
Filming a reality show is no easy matter; it takes time and a whole lot of footage. That means, for the staff at Count’s Kustoms, their entire life is pretty much caught on tape; even though everything is edited, only a fraction of what’s taped is aired.
During an interview, Koker said, “As far as production is concerned, they’ve gotta keep rolling on all this stuff, or they’re going to miss something vital on an episode.”
Joseph “Doc” Duggan Had A Strange House Robbery
In 2015, Joseph “Doc” Duggan, the tech genius at Count’s Kustoms, returned home from a party to find his door unlocked and his place virtually empty. He’d been completely robbed out of his belongings, aside from a pile of clothing and some dishes.
Oddly enough, the robbers decided to run the dishes through the dishwasher before they left. There was even evidence that they’d used his bathroom! Talk about a strange robbery with a lot of potential DNA samples.
Shop Tours Are Hyped Up
When it comes to custom and rare cars, fanatics will jump at the opportunity to see them up close and personal. And if they just so happen to be located in a famous TV shop, all the better! The only problem is the tours of Count’s Kustoms aren’t all they’re hyped up to be.
According to reviews, people who went to tour the shop were surprised by the poor customer service, pricey coffee, and the bad neighborhood the garage is located in.
It’s Getting Difficult For Koker To Make Deals
With the success of Counting Cars, Koker’s shop’s business has been booming. It seems like fame and notoriety pay off! Or does it? According to Koker, now that people know his shop is successful and gets a nice payday from the reality show, it’s becoming more difficult to negotiate with people.
Before, he was able to drive up to prospective clients and negotiate solid prices for cars. Now, people try to get every cent they can out of the celebrity, and it’s making his job a bit more difficult.
Danny Got His Nickname In A Strange Way
Before becoming the owner of Count’s Kustoms and a reality television star, Danny Koker used to dress up as a vampire and host a cheesy horror show called Saturday Fright at the Movies.
His name on the show was “Count Cool Rider,” and he would come on stage, wearing a cape and talking in an awful Transylvanian accent, introducing the movie for the evening. It looks like the name stuck since it’s partially the name of the shop.
It’s Difficult For Danny To Sell His Personal Cars
It’s no secret Danny Koker is a huge car lover, spending most of his life around a garage with his father and now as the owner of his own shop. So, it makes sense that he has a hard time selling some of his more prized cars from his personal collection.
During an interview, Koker relayed why it was hard for him, saying, “I feel like I put a piece of me in it.”
Koker Almost Had A Chance To Buy His Dream Car
A lot of people have a “dream car” that they wouldn’t hesitate to buy if money wasn’t a factor. Well, as it turns out, Counting Cars star Danny Koker is no different, even though he spends his life around cool and rare cars.
His dream car: a 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV. Around 15 to 20 years ago, the shop owner almost saw his dream come true, too, but the deal eventually fell through. He’s still on the lookout, though!
Koker Has A Hard Time Working On His Late Father’s Cars
One of the biggest influences in Danny Koker’s life was his father. When he passed away, it became hard for Koker to look at his father’s personal collection of cars, let alone work on them.
During an interview, Koker told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he’s “just now starting to dig out a couple of the very personal vehicles that were my father’s that now belong to me, that I haven’t been able to think about, or look at, or touch for a long time.”