CHOPPER DUO BACK ON BIKE
American Chopper’s Paul Teutul Sr and Paul Teutul Jr had one of the most notorious bust-ups in the history of US television.
In 2008 the fractious fatherson relationship exploded when an argument led to Paul Jr being sacked from their motorcycle company Orange County Choppers in Newburgh, New York. The hit reality show, which had aired since 2003, never recovered from the split and neither did the Teutuls.
The pair have barely spoken in the decade since. Now they have agreed to reunite for an
American Chopper reboot. “I had to be talked into it,” 69-year-old Teutul Sr says. “I was approached quite a few times. The thing that scared me the most was what it (the original series) did to the family and the relationship. It really took me a while to come to terms with returning, because of that destruction.”
During the past decade, Teutul Sr expanded Orange County Choppers to include a shop, cafe, bowling alley, restaurant and showroom. That has led to economic strain.
Teutul Jr, 43 and married with a son, Hudson, is also feeling the pinch at his own chopper shop, Paul Jr Designs.
The big question is whether revisiting the show that broke them apart can now do the opposite and lead to a reconciliation. Teutul Sr is hopeful. “I think we were inching our way up there, but this show made it a little bit quicker,” he says. “I do believe we were the first real reality show. We were the pioneers. If you watch a lot of them, it is father and son or mother and daughter.
“It was definitely lifechanging. One day you’re an ironworker and the next you’re doing a television show. You can’t even fathom that in your mind. I didn’t even like to be in a picture, never mind being on television. We were an overnight success and to adapt to that was pretty difficult. All of a sudden you have a camera crew following you all day and then you’re all over the world.”
As American Chopper progressed, the designs got wilder. The Liberty bike was plated with copper from the Statue of Liberty, there was the web-themed Junior’s Dream bike, the Make-a-Wish bike with kids’ handprints, even an Australia-themed bike.
“We start with a concept but during the process as we’re fabricating stuff, if it doesn’t look right we don’t do it,” Teutul Sr says. “Our audience is so big. I remember kids that were five or six waiting in line for autographs and also a time when the first person in line was a lady close to 90. Some of those kids that were five or six years old are now 18, but they remember the show.”
WATCH AMERICAN CHOPPER, Discovery, Monday 7.30pm