Cody Connelly became one of the most recognized teens in the custom chopper-style motorcycle building industry, due to Discovery Channel’s top-rated reality television show, “American Chopper.” He was part of the series for six seasons as a motorcycle mechanic and fabricator from the Orange County Choppers crew. In 2007, he quit OCC and the TV show to join colleague and former OCC crew member Vincent DiMartino’s shop called V-Force Customs. He later became controversial when he sued his former OCC boss, Paul Teutul Sr., for fraud and breach of contract.

Early Life and Education

Cody Connelly was born on 30 August 1987, in Montgomery, New York State, to parents Darci Dembeck and Sean Connelly. He and his younger sister, Tylar Connelly, would always hang around his father’s garage growing up. His father loved tinkering on his motorcycles and Cody would be his little assistant.

He was gifted with a bike by his father at a very young age and treasured it the most. Being around motorcycles inspired him to dream of building his own someday. The future fabricator matriculated from Valley Central High School in 2005, then to prepare for a career in the motorcycle building industry, he attended technical programs given by the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services of New York State, or BOCES.

His career started with the Orange County Choppers

Cody started working as a part-timer for Orange County Choppers when he was still in high school, doing odd jobs in the shop. OCC was one of the leading custom chopper-style motorcycle builders in the US – the business started as a regular welding shop providing iron-related products and services to the local community, initially called Orange County Iron. When it became successful, Paul Teutul Sr. left its management to his youngest son, Daniel, who reorganized the company to keep up with the times, and rebranded it as Orange County Ironworks.

Paul Sr. and his eldest son, Paul Jr., focused on transitioning their hobby of creating unique motorbikes to a serious business, and so launched OCC in 1999.

Paul Sr. saw something in Cody that he sent him to the American Motorcycle Institute – AMI – in Daytona, Florida to get a formal education on motorcycle building, and paid for his tuition fees as part of his OCC training. After he finished at AMI, Cody returned to start working for the OCC, in the role of a motorcycle mechanic and assembler. As the years went by, Cody improved and developed his skills by closely assisting the owners, Paul Sr. and Paul Jr., along with the other senior crew members such as Rick Petko (fabricator/designer), Nick Hansford (assembler/technician), and Vincent DiMartino (assembler/mechanic). He easily absorbed everything he heard and saw in the shop, and the rest of the crew all agreed that he was a fast learner and focused on his tasks, which was quite impressive given his age.

As a reality-TV star in “American Choppers”

When the OCC was starting to get a reputation for their superior craftsmanship and unique designs, TV producers came knocking at their door. Initially, the Teutuls didn’t take any TV deal offer seriously and thought of it as a prank. When they realized that it was a legitimate offer from the Pilgrim Films and Television, a production company that produces documentaries and reality-TV series for Discovery Channel, the Teutuls agreed. Every single key person in the OCC shop including Cody became part of the reality-TV series they called “American Choppers.”

The pilot episode and the surreal feedback

The production company assured them that it would be unscripted, and they would only film whatever they did in the garage when they took on a project. In a period of six weeks, Pilgrim got enough footage for the pilot episode, which Discovery Channel executives spliced into two parts, aired in the latter part of 2002, to gauge if they would have enough viewers to greenlight a whole season.

When it was aired, Cody along with the OCC crew especially the Teutuls were disappointed with what they saw on TV.

The TV crew had to include not only the motorcycle building process, but also the family drama that often occurred in the shop. Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. would regularly get into heated arguments on how to go about their work. They all thought that what was shown gave OCC a bad reputation for being unprofessional, and so would end up a laughing stock in the automotive industry. However, when they checked their email the day after it was aired, they were shocked to see a full inbox with queries about their shop’s services along with many congratulatory messages. Cody felt that it was quite surreal that the pilot episodes had the highest rating when it was aired; it was the start of something incredible that changed his life.

The first season and “The Cody Project”

During the first season of “American Chopper,” viewers saw how talented Cody was at 15 years old.

In the sixth episode of the series, OCC was invited to participate in the 2003 Daytona Beach Bike Week. At that time, Cody was still attending classes in high school, but OCC took him out of school that week so he could experience the Biketoberfest with them. They displayed around 10 customized motorcycles, including the green bike that Cody designed and co-built with Paul Jr. called “The Cody Project,” and of which many people were in awe. Everything that happened in Bike Week just overwhelmed him – some people treated him like a movie star, as fans took photos with him and asked for his autograph. A lot of the motorbike enthusiasts were shocked and impressed that Cody was able to build a top-quality bike at such a very young age.

It became a bittersweet experience for the young builder. His bike was among those sold during the festivities, and viewers saw the pride in his eyes that someone actually thought his bike was awesome to pay for it, but at the same time, there was sadness as he said goodbye to his bike.

Paul Sr. was aware of what was going on, so he told Cody that all of them felt that way in the beginning, that it would be great if they get to keep all that they had created, but it’s a business which doesn’t work that way. He should learn the art of letting go, and just focus on getting excited about his new project. It was also that time when the OCC owner took him under his wing and offered him a chance to build a bike together. Cody was excited, as he had so much respect for the old man.

Old School Project with Paul Senior

In the eighth episode of the first season of the TV series, as promised, Paul Sr. started collaborating with Cody on a new bike. Since Cody entered a program in school where he could work during the daytime at OCC, and then attend his classes in the evening, Paul Sr. felt that it was the right time to teach Cody how to build a motorcycle old-school style.

The old man went through the whole process by taking Cody to a motorcycle parts store, where they purchased everything they were going to use, as well as showing him bikes from different eras displayed there. Cody was on a high, just like a small kid picking up candies at a snack store.

When they went back to OCC, they head down to its new building, with Paul Sr. saying it was just right that Cody’s new project bike was the first to be built in it. Since Cody was already exposed to motorcycle building using new techniques, he was grateful for the time his boss generously gave him so that he could learn how to build the old classic choppers with him. Paul Jr., at that time, was just as happy that the project got his father out of the shop, even for a short time, so that nobody was hovering around him while he worked. Senior was just full of praise for Cody, and said that the more he worked with the young kid, the more impressed he was with his talent, saying that Cody could be as good, if not better than his son someday, as long as keeps on working to improve.

Cody was treated like a younger brother by everyone in the shop. He’s the quiet, shy kid who rarely starts a conversation, and wouldn’t really offer his opinion unless asked. He wasn’t that expressive when he was working on the bike, and others couldn’t tell if he was excited about it. However, Vincent, one of his senior colleagues, said that since they had all got close to the young man, they knew he was pretty stoked about it. Paul Sr. said that everyone in the shop was impressed by Cody’s abilities as they kept on visiting him in the new building, just to see how he was doing and what the bike looked like.

When it was time to paint the assembled bike, Cody was happy that his boss made sure he was part of the whole painting process as well. Not every 15-year-old teenager was given an opportunity to experience what they only usually saw in textbooks or video tutorials.

Paul Teutul Sr.

He even shared that his boss wasn’t aggravated if he did something wrong. Paul Sr. was beaming with pride as he looked on Cody having a great time learning how to build a motorcycle from scratch. He said that he always believed that experience is the best teacher, so he let Cody go through the whole thing since the kid could easily pick up on things.

Cody left the OCC and “American Chopper” in 2007

For some reason after working for OCC for quite some time, he left the shop in October 2007, and naturally also ceased being a part of “American Chopper”. There was no official explanation given by OCC in particular or the executive producers of the show about his abrupt departure. Some people concluded that it was because Vincent DiMartino left OCC in August of that year, and when there were reports that Cody joined a new custom shop located less than 10 miles away from OCC, they weren’t surprised anymore.

Vinnie DiMartino and Cody Connelly

Posted by Emilio Rivera on Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Vincent was the man behind V-Force Customs and Cody collaborated with him in building chopper-style motorcycles very similar to those they did back in OCC. He spent a few years there using all the skills he learned from the Teutuls. One of the first collaborations that they did was a bike they called V-Force 1, and Cody even got a chance to build one for the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm team. However, the shop had financial troubles and Vincent had to be practical and reorganize his business. Instead of just focusing on building customized bikes, he rebranded it by offering other services such as repair work, and called it DiMartino Motorsports. When he made the business transition, Cody left the shop.

His legal battle with OCC’s Paul Sr.

While Cody was working for V-Force Customs, he filed a lawsuit against OCC and his former employer, Paul Teutul Sr. for breach of contract, misappropriation of likeness, and fraud.

Orange County Choppers

Apparently, OCC used his brand name on various materials including books, posters and other promotional merchandise without his consent. Cody also never received the Old School Chopper he built with Senior during the first season of “American Chopper”, even though it was promised to him. After finishing the bike, Senior talked to Cody at his office. He told him that after all the work that Cody had done on it, it was only right that he gave it to him and handed him the keys. Paul Senior even commented he wasn’t just an employee but part of the family.

When Cody was asked why he only sued for damages years after it happened, he said that he was quite young at that time, and that he wasn’t aware of his rights. Some people were saddened by the lawsuit, but the good thing was that after four years they settled it out of court, and Cody dropped all the charges.

Cody was back on TV with “American Chopper: Senior vs Junior”

Afterwards, Cody found himself reuniting with Paul Jr. in the spin-off series called “American Chopper: Senior vs Junior.” He made several appearances along with former colleague Vincent DiMartino, as they were both included in Junior’s crew to work with the Paul Junior Designs’ team. It premiered on 12 August 2010 and lasted for four seasons, with the final episode airing on 17 December 2012.

Cody said that when he received a call from Paul Junior, he didn’t hesitate to say yes, as he’d never had any problem with him during the time he worked at OCC. The only major reason for him quitting OCC was that he never felt comfortable with all the tension in the work environment, between Sr and Jr. Paul Jr. was conscious not to repeat the mistakes that happened in his father’s company.

He only had a problem with one of his fabricators named Odie, whose antics he had tolerated, but when he’d enough of his cocky attitude, he fired him on the spot. Cody had more responsibilities because they were one man short, but Paul Jr. said trusted that Cody was up for the tasks as he knew his work ethic.

Where is Cody Connelly now?

After having spent almost eight years with “American Chopper” and its spin-off series, Cody hasn’t been seen on TV again. There’s no detailed information on what he’s doing, or if he launched his own business, but there were rumors that he was affiliated with a utility company after he left V-Force Customs. He has no verified social media accounts, but based on his believed to be legit Facebook account, he was selling vehicles including motorbikes, automobiles, pickup trucks, and heavy machinery.

It wasn’t quite clear if they were all his own or if he was advertising them for someone else. He rarely posted on this account, and this wasn’t a surprise to the fans as he was a quiet and private person when he was still with OCC.

Fans believe that he’s dating someone seriously, as the profile picture he uploaded back in September 2020 was with a woman. One of his aunts, Kimbally Connelly commented, ‘Ok, I am only an Aunt, but you two will have beautiful children!!!! If you decide to have one, that is.’ The only family member he had a picture with that he uploaded onto his account was his sister, Taylar. His mom, Darci, left a comment under the photo saying she was lucky to have two beautiful children. Based on the ‘About’ page in his account, he still lives in New York, currently in Montgomery.

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