“American Chopper: The Series” is a reality/documentary TV show produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, which aired from 2003 to 2019. The series followed the crew of Orange County Choppers (OCC), a custom motorcycle fabrication company located in Montgomery, New York State, led by Paul Teutul Sr. and his son Paul Teutul Jr. Originally focusing on the creative differences between the two and their complex father-and-son relationship, the show took a big hit in 2008, when Paul Jr. left Orange County Choppers to pursue his own business. Since then, “American Chopper” has been on and off air for years, but is still considered to be one of the best automotive reality shows out there. Jason Pohl joined the cast in 2006, and remained on the show until its cancellation. An industrial designer by trade, Jason quickly became one of the series’ most prominent stars, but it appears that a lot has changed in his life since we last saw him on “American Chopper”.
Orange County Choppers
The staff of Orange County Choppers were the heart of the show for more than 16 years. The company was founded by Paul Teutul Sr. back in 1999, debuting their first bike, nicknamed ‘True Blue’ at the 1999 Daytona Biketoberfest. Initially, Paul Sr. was busy with his other company, Orange County Ironworks, and only wanted to build five to ten motorcycles per year, but the demand for their builds quickly increased, prompting him to expand his business and commit to it full-time. As a result, Paul Sr., left his old company in hands of his son Daniel, while his other two sons, Michael and Paul Jr., helped him run his new motorcycle business. In 2002, they were contacted by Discovery Channel, who wanted them to star in their upcoming reality show.
Along with building custom motorbikes for “American Chopper”, Orange County Choppers have launched their own limited edition production line of motorcycles in 2007, with a starting price of $31,000.
One of their most well-known custom builds is one specifically created to commemorate the New York firefighters who lost their life in 9/11 attacks. Nicknamed ‘The Fire Bike’, motorcycle was modeled after a fire truck, featuring a steel rivet that came from the collapsed World Trade Center building. Due to the popularity of their show, the US Air Force commissioned Orange County Choppers to make them a custom bike, valued at $150,000, which was modeled after the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, complete with Air Force symbols.
“American Chopper” run and cancellation
“American Chopper” premiered on Discovery Channel on 31 March 2003, initially starring Paul Teutul Sr., Paul Teutul Jr., Nick Hansford, Rick Petko and Christian Walter, along with now former employees of OCC, Vincent DiMartino and Cody Connelly. Michael Teutul also frequently appeared as the shop’s custodian and webmaster, also providing comic relief for the viewers.
Interestingly enough, OCC were not Discovery Channel’s first choice for the show; in fact, the decision to focus the series on them was a last-minute call, as the series’ producer, Craig Pilligan revealed in his interview with the financial magazine “Forbes”. ‘I switched the motorcycle shop the night before shooting. It was a Tuesday night and in my last conversation with the shop that I was going to do in New Hampshire, I didn’t feel that they had the right mindset.’, Pilligan said. The shooting for the pilot episode started next morning.
Aside from documenting the process of building custom motorcycles, “American Chopper” also covered personal relationship between the cast members, which were often quite tumultuous and full of drama. OCC proved to be a high-pressure environment; tight deadlines combined with high expectations from customers often increased tensions between cast members . In many ways, “American Chopper” served as a blueprint for other family-driven reality shows which are widely popular today.
In 2008, one of the show’s biggest stars, Paul Jr., was fired from OOC and the show, following numerous disagreements with his father. Around the same time, the show moved from Discovery Channel to TLC. In April the following year, Junior launched his own business, Paul Jr. Designs. In response, Paul Sr. filed a lawsuit against him, in order to force him to sell his 20% share in OCC, which was eventually ruled in Junior’s favor. The tensions culminated in 2010, when Paul Teutul Sr. refused to attend his son’s wedding.
However, later in the same year, Junior returned in the first series spin-off, entitled “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior”, which mainly chronicled the after math of Junior’s departure from OCC, and aired for two seasons before it was cancelled in 2012.
Paul Sr., returned to the TV screens in 2013, in the second spin-off from “American Chopper”, entitled “Orange County Choppers: American Made”, which featured him and his team as they built some of the most complex projects of their careers.
In the following year, Discovery Channel aired a special – “American Chopper: Shaq Bike” – featuring the building of a custom chopper for the former National Basketball Association (NBA) star, Shaquille O’Neal.
After a four-year-long TV hiatus, the cast finally returned for a new season of “American Chopper” in 2018. The revival season showed brand new motorcycle builds, and a surprising twist – Junior’s return after ten years of having a poor relationship with his father. The series came to a definitive conclusion in 2020, with the airing of a special episode entitled “The Last Ride”, which showed Junior and Senior working on a custom chopper together, for the first time in years.
During its 17 years long run, “American Chopper” left a significant mark on pop culture. It inspired two video game titles, a pinball arcade game, and a Comedy Central parody series “American Body Shop”. Furthermore, the infamous scene of Paul Sr. firing Paul Jr. was turned into an exploitable meme comic, which went viral in 2011, and has since spawned innumerable iterations.
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What is Jason doing now?
Jason Pohl was featured on “American Chopper” from season four. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Media Arts and Animation from Illinois Institute of Art in 2004, and started his career at Incredible Technologies later in the same year. One of the first projects he worked on was a digital pinball prototype licensed by OCC, while he was responsible for digitally modeling all the choppers featured in the game. Paul Teutul Sr. liked his work so much that he invited him to join his company. Two years later, he became a regular on “American Chopper”, and was featured as their Lead Designer.
During his time with OCC, he designed more than 300 motorcycles, but nowadays, Jason works for Dassault Systemès, along with serving as an ambassador for the software brand SOLIDWORKS. He has also started his own company called Jason Pohl Designs, through which he offers a large variety of services, including product design, 3D printing and strategic brand development.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Pohl parted ways with OCC in March 2020, following their move to Florida. In an interview he gave in 2021, Jason opened up about his time there. ‘I’ll never forget the day I met Paul, and he introduced me to his son, Paulie. (…) I was 21 years old, and looked into these guys and thought ‘wow, these guys are passion-driven. This is awesome’’, he said. Jason also revealed that he stayed on good terms with his former boss, despite having several clashes with him in the past, and still considers him to be one of his biggest inspirations.
As for his private life, Jason is a married man and a proud father of four. He often posts about his children and wife on his Instagram account ‘@pohlie’, along with sharing his latest designs. Although his children are still very young, Jason has revealed that he tries to introduce them to his work as much as he can, and let them explore their creative side.
As of April 2022, Jason’s net worth has been estimated at more than $500,000.
Where is the rest of “American Chopper” cast today?
As for the rest of the “American Chopper” cast, some haven’t been as fortunate in thire post-show life. Paul Teutul Sr., in particular, has had a series of legal issues. In 2018, he was sued by his former business partner, Thomas Derbyshire, who argued that Paul used the money Thomas invested into “Orange County Choppers: American Made” for personal use. Teutul Sr. furthermore attempted to change his ownership deal with Derbyshire from 51/49 to 50/50 behind his back. Derbyshire also accused his former business partner of obstructing the series production, by habitually showing up late to the set or not showing up at all, while making product placement deals without his knowledge.
In July the same year, Teutul Sr. was invited to a mediation hearing in another lawsuit involving JTM Motorsports Inc., who sued him for failing to promote the company in exchange for free work on his Corvette.
As the online magazine “Page Six” reported, Senior was becoming agitated during the process, and started screaming at JTM representatives to give him his car back. Security had to intervene to prevent a physical altercation, and removed Teutul from the courtroom.
In March 2018, only one day before the premiere of the “American Chopper” revival season, Teutul Sr. filed for bankruptcy, but his plea was apparently dismissed due to the fact that Paul didn’t supply sufficient documentation. He eventually managed to get back on his feet by selling his old house, and was later able to expand his business.
While Orange County Choppers operated in Orange County, New York for more than 20 years, in 2020 they relocated to Florida, specifically to St. Petersburg. The city on the western coast of the state is known to be a Mecca for motorcyclists, with some of it main attractions being a Harley-Davidson dealership and the Roadhouse museum.
Nowadays, Orange County Choppers has expanded its operation to include a bar and restaurant, along with a gift store which sells “American Chopper” merchandise.
Aside from expanding the business, the year 2020, brought more legal issues for Paul Sr. Namely, he was sued by a professional photographer named Scott Gunnells, who alleged that Paul’s company illegally used his work on two pieces of “American Chopper” merchandise. The court ruled in Gunnell’s favor, requiring Paul to pay more than $280,000 in damages.
His son Paul Teutul Jr. still runs his own company in New York, which has expanded into apparel and personal branding. In recent years, Junior has had renowned clients such as Paramount and Blizzard Entertainment, so it’s safe to assume that his business is doing more than well. Despite all the drama than happened between him and his father, Paul Jr. now looks back at the whole ordeal as a ‘blessing in disguise’.
In his interview with the website “Inquistr”, Paul said ‘On Sept. 28, 2008, in a scene that millions of viewers of the “American Chopper” reality TV show watched on Discovery Channel, my father booted me from the Orange County Choppers custom motorcycle-building company, of which I was part-owner. And that turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me at the time. It just took a while to realize that’.
His brother Michael also left the show, and has been working on his struggles with alcohol addiction, which were documented in “American Chopper”. He took time off to go to rehab, and explore his creativity through painting and cooking. Michael has since returned to his father’s business as assistant general manager, and on the side has partnered with the chef known as Angry Mike, with whom he co-runs a sauce-making company.
One of the early fan-favorites, Vincent DiMartino, left the show back in 2007, to start his own business called V-Force Customs.
To celebrate the premiere of Biker Live, Paul Jr. Designs will be doing a Facebook Q&A Monday at noon answering your…
However, the company didn’t last in the market for very long, and Vincent briefly rejoined the show, but now works for Paul Jr. The failure of his first solo business endeavor led Vincent to start another company, DiMartino Motorsports Automotive and Truck Repair, which is still operating in Walden, New York.
During his time on the show, the youngest cast member Cody Connelly, was considered a real prodigy; he was fresh out of high school, but showed incredible craftsmanship for his age. He left the show in 2007 to join Vincent’s V-Force Customs. Cody eventually abandoned working with motorcycles altogether, and now works for a utility company.
Rick Petko, who did all kinds of metalwork on “American Chopper” has also left OCC. He now works at Pocono Mountain Harley-Davidson, tackling their custom fabrication contracts, while making and selling metalware on the side. Some of his best-selling products are custom chef knives.