Learning From The Teutuls?

Published in the June 2013 Issue June 2013 Brady L. Kay

For 10 years I watched the drama play out in the reality television series American Chopper. I think it’s safe to say that from day one, I was hooked on the show. Of course the first few years were actually about building custom chopper motorcycles, but I must admit, I did kind of like the fighting between Paul Teutul and his son Junior. What can I say? The hour-long show was entertaining and at times unpredictable.

But like all reality shows, the drama began to take over and it quickly turned into a roller coaster/train wreck. In a short amount of time it became less about the bikes and more about the characters. However, I still couldn’t stay away as I continued to watch faithfully. The show mercifully ended last fall after an awkward season where talk about custom builds gave way to tender moments of feelings and building relationships. I was actually glad to see it go because despite how sappy the episodes got, I still continued to watch.

But with Father’s Day fast approaching this month, it did get me thinking about what really goes on at these shops when a father and son are involved.

My plan was to find a diesel performance shop that was started by a mechanic who then included his son in the family business. I had this great idea for my column this month to take the drama from the reality show and compare it to a father and son shop. It would have been a decent idea if not for one minor problem: it’s not easy to find a shop like this. Truth is, the big business of diesel modifications that we know today hasn’t really been around long enough to go through a full generation just yet.

The biggest and most successful shops around the country were started by the current owner and in some cases are less than a decade old. So any hope of finding a father and son jawing at each other and throwing wrenches over the best way to custom-fit a twin turbo setup quickly faded.

Turns out, most garages are quite civil, especially by comparison. Anyone who is familiar with Orange County Choppers back when Paul Teutul was “working” with his son Paul Jr. under one roof, are fully aware of the drama. Maybe it was the bright spotlight of the television cameras or maybe it was just the show’s producer who wanted to create a reality that didn’t really exist. But either way, I’ve yet to find a shop that compares to the chaos the Teutuls were capable of.

There are shops that aren’t diesel specific, plus those companies that manufacture all types of truck accessories for more than just diesel pickups out there. But I still failed in my attempt to find anything similar to those guys building bikes in the state of New York and maybe that’s not a bad thing when you think about it.

Regardless of what happens to the Teutuls moving forward, both father and son have plenty of money to burn after teaming up and last we heard they had reconciled their differences. My own father is a retired mechanic and even though there’s no family business to inherit, I have no regrets. I’ve learned plenty from my father over the years and I continue to learn as well. Working together in a family-owned shop may or may not have worked out any better than the Teutuls; we’ll never know. But having my pop around today and still a part of my life and my family is all I could ever ask for. As for my column idea, I’ll just have to sit on it for a decade or so I guess. I have noticed quite a few teenage sons with brooms after school sweeping up dad’s shop, anxiously anticipating the day when they’re old enough to really get their hands dirty.

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