TV show people are a little on the surreal side for most of us. We see them on the boob tube, but never in real life, yet we get to know them.
Paul Teutul Jr. is one of those TV people. Most of us have seen American Chopper on the Discovery channel. Paul Sr. is the patriarch of the clan. Paul Jr. is the chief fabricator and designer. He gets yelled at a lot for getting behind schedule. Younger brother Mikey is comic relief because he's always screwing up.
In January 2005, two episodes of American Chopper featured the build of a bike styled after the wildly popular Shelby GT500E. Meanwhile, in Texas, Unique Performance built a GT500E in exchange for this bike. The Teutuls like performance two-wheelers, so naturally they like performance cars. Senior, in fact, has a semi-large stash (about 20) of American musclecars. Paul Jr. likes vintage muscle and new performance cars, like his Renntech-tuned, 630hp AMG Mercedes SL55.
Part of the deal for the Super Snake/bike swap was a second Super Snake, this one for Paul Jr.
"I wanted to keep it real clean," Paul Jr. says. "I didn't want the standard paint and stripes like everyone else was doing."
Clean meant no markers on the front fenders. Conspicuous by their absence is the pair of Cobra logo badges displaying the GT500E brand on each front quarter. In their place is another famous abbreviation, the "OCC" logo that cleverly incorporates both the image of a chopper and the O-C-C letters.
Unique Performance limited its Super Snake output to 75 units. At around 200 grand a pop, the run is completely sold out. Two of those cars are in the Teutul's possession.
"Out of the 75, my father and I have the two most unique cars," Paul Jr. says. "We probably have the most polish work done, and I mean, my paint..."
TV viewers are familiar with the drama on American Chopper. We didn't know we were about to be a part of it. As we interviewed Paul Jr. on the phone at the OCC shop in Montgomery, New York, we heard another voice in the background. It sounded like Paul Sr. Then, we heard Paul Jr. exclaim, "Well, where the @#&* am I gonna go?"
"Click," the receiver hung up. He was gone. We phoned back and got Jenni. She transferred us to Paul Jr.-or so we thought.
"Your voice-it sounds so low. Is this you?" we asked.
"Yeah, it's me. I had to go to another phone. So, where were we?"
We didn't know at the time, but Mikey had intercepted Paul Jr.'s call. Slightly confused, we continued the conversation.
"We were talking about how your Super Snake is unique with a lot of polishing."
"Yeah, rims, bumper, steering wheel, trim around the windows," he said. "It's really decked out, high polish."
A high polish on the steering wheel and trim around the windshield sure sounded funny.
"How did you come up with the maroon top and the paint scheme?
"That red top? You know I kind of look at things and I guess I just see them. It just really came to me."
The amiable Paul Jr. had suddenly turned a little madcap, a little arrogant.
"Does the car have a lot in common with the way you build bikes?"
"Uh, yeah, in fabrication, metal-forming, but uh, you know, that car runs like a raped-ape."
"Is that right?"
"Well, my father's actually runs good. It runs twice as good as mine. I think it's because, uh . . . [pause] before we gave them the bike, they gave us the car, his car, and after they had the bike they didn't care anymore. So then it took them 2 years to get me my jalopy."
When the voice on the end of the line repeated, "That car runs like a raped ape" Paul Jr. showed up and yelled, "Get the @#&* off!"
It's fun to be part of the show, if only in an interview on the phone. Evidently, the show is pretty close to real life.
"Jerry, it's Paul. You've been talking to Michael. Sorry about the confusion. Where were we?"
Paul picked up the story of the special paint scheme. He went right to Chip Foose, the famous car designer.
"I called him [Foose] up, talked to him, asked him to design a paint job for me. He sent me the sketch and I liked it."