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American Chopper Hits A Roadblock

After a long and successful run, American Chopper hit a speed bump last week with the construction of a “modern” muscle car.

The effort by Paul Teutul Jr. to customize a Camaro centered largely on his successful build-off bike and the addition of silver panels and rivets to the vehicle’s hood and sides. But as television did the show have enough passion, conflict or fabrication? Was it little more, or any more, than a 60-minute commercial, a marketing venue to just sell beefed-up cars??

The special program raises the question of what future is open to the program without the material participation of Paul Sr. and Orange County Choppers. Can a show about bikes and the American workplace be expanded, redirected and reborn into something else?

There’s no doubt that Paul Jr. does wonderful work with bikes, they are surely the centerpieces of the series. But can he transfer such design skills to other products?

Jesse James

So what gives? Perhaps the program was an attempt to head off the development of a new show, Outlaw Garage, by builder Jesse James. Or, maybe, the car show was an effort to create a rivalry with James to drive ratings for both programs.


But to drive ratings you have to offer something the public wants. American Chopper has the advantage of a long and successful run on national television. Over time it’s been an engaging show even for those not particularly interested in motorcycles.

American Chopper

This means American Chopper has a built-in audience but it also has a fan base with certain expectations. There are partisans who like Paul Sr. or who like Paul Jr. and there are viewers who find the fabrications central to the program.

One of the questions raised by American Chopper concerns the depth of the marketplace for corporate bikes. Just how many companies are willing to spend big dollars not just for a bike but for the opportunity to appear on a national TV show? How many sheiks are out there who want to bike with the gas tank that looks like a horse head? Is there room for two competitors in a specialized niche business? With the economy changing is there room for one? And would either survive without continuing TV exposure?

Another issue concerns the preferences of Paul Sr. He’s now on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. Where does he want to go with his own show and – indeed – with Orange County Choppers? After all the history with the new headquarters, the foreclosure filing, mortgage issues, the successes and the fall out with Mikey and Paul Jr. at what point is it time to do new things?

It may be that the show seen last week is the start of something new for the series, a transitional event. Whether it will also be the start of something popular only time will tell.

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1 Comment on "American Chopper Hits A Roadblock"

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  1. Herk says:

    It’ll be interersting how Jnr develops this new business direction. Not sure about his choice of car though. I think he should maybe have been wiser to have gone with something a little closer to the concept of bike riding. A two seater roadster could have been a better canvas for his design, the big muscle car sort of overwhelmed his customization.

    More than that, in the end it will only be tinkering with some surface elements, beefing up the engine, adding custom wheels and maybe tweaking the interior. Unlike his motorbike business this is a million miles away from building a unique product from the bottom up.

    The fact is that he doesn’t have the facilities, or staff resources and skills, to produce something original like Chip Foose.

    So is the superficial customization of the Camaro a good business move? The great selling point will be uniquness but is the car unique enough? I have my doubts but if all 77 cars of the limited run are sold, then who can argue that Jnr’s decision has been vindicated.

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