A decade ago, car enthusiast Ryan Evans could attend a car tradeshow or convention without turning heads, but not anymore, as he became popular when the reality-television series, “Counting Cars” premiered in 2012. His incredible skills as the lead painter and graphic artist made him one of the most reliable crew members in the now famous auto restoration shop of Danny Koker in Las Vegas, Nevada called Count’s Kustoms.

Ryan Evans Early Life and Family

Ryan Evans was born on 4 January 1974, in Illinois. His father was in the US Army so his family moved to several places, but he was mostly raised in Texas and Germany; he hasn’t been keen on sharing details about his family. He matriculated from Frankfurt American High School in Germany, and it was there that his exposure to art started. One of his teachers back then was a renowned illustration artist, and part of the curriculum in his art class was about the airbrushing technique.

Ryan said, ‘It planted the seed for the rest of my life. I was infatuated with airbrushing.’

From there, he looked into the different forms of creating art, including pinstriping, graphic arts, vehicle painting, and anything he could find about custom painting in automotive culture. His art teacher might be the one he credited for his serious interest in art, but his fixation started way back when he received a gift from his parents at age seven or eight, who returned from a vacation and brought him a bucket of sand along with a T-shirt. The T-shirt had an airbrushed print of his name, and he thought that it was the coolest print he had ever seen. Another thing that made him decide to learn about art and painting techniques more extensively was when he saw an ad for House of Colors, and it sparked his passion.

All about his firsts

His first job after high school was as a computer rep in an AFIS company in Germany.

The automated fingerprint identification system was launched there in 1993; he was in a sight and sound facility in one of the American military bases there, and it was a time when the trending computer program was all DOS-based. However, he veered away from computers and technology, even if everyone else was into it.

When they went back to the US, his family stayed in Texas as his father was stationed in Fort Hood; he was Ryan’s first customer, as at that time his father had an NX50 Honda, a dual-sport Enduro Motorbike, with a helmet, and he let his son loose on it. Ryan just experimented. His first shop was in Killeen located just outside of Fort Hood, a small spot at the back of a 500-square-meter property where they tinted windows.

Ryan’s Mentor

Ryan was mostly self-taught, as he never attended any formal classes to learn about custom painting, nor worked for anyone or any company that trained him, until he met David Hamm.

He considered David as his mentor when he was still in Texas, as the guy was working for Toyota in Killeen as the head painter, and was paid in flag hours in which his compensation was based on a particular paint job. He did some work there on a commission basis, and said that if Ryan messed up on his tasks, it would come out of David’s pocket. One time, he airbrushed a tailgate without prepping, and David asked him why he didn’t sand it first. Ryan wasn’t aware that he had to do that, but instead of getting angry, David told him that he needed to come and learn from him.

So far, the automotive painters he had met refused to tutor him, as they believed that they would be teaching the competition, but David believed in sharing knowledge. He made Ryan sit in a corner, and specifically told him not to touch or say anything; all that he required from Ryan was for the latter to observe him carefully while he worked. Ryan learned everything he needed to know about the art of custom painting from an expert, and gained enough experience so that he could start offering his services legitimately.

Ryan joined History Channel’s “Counting Cars”

The American reality-TV series “Counting Cars,” was the third spin-off series from the makers of “Pawn Stars.” Ryan became part of it because he was already working for Count’s Kustoms, an automotive restoration shop in Las Vegas, owned by Danny Koker. Danny often appeared as one of the consultants in “Pawn Stars”, and was later offered his own TV series, to be produced by Leftfield Pictures for History Channel. When Danny agreed to film the first season, it meant that his crew and staff were all included in the TV deal. It became one of the most-watched TV series on the cable network.

His past 10 seasons with “Counting Cars”

Ryan had few expectations when he joined the TV show, as he wasn’t part of Danny’s main clique; he just did his job as part of the painting team.

Ryan Evans

He never knew that he would attract a following, and would enjoy a bit of popularity in the gearhead community. Here are some of the interesting things that happened in Ryan’s 10-season journey with “Counting Cars.”

Debuted on TV in 2012

When “Counting Cars” premiered on 13 August 2012, Ryan wasn’t part of the main cast. At that time, he was in Count’s Kustoms bike shop crew headed by Shannon Aikau. He was briefly shown in the first episode as someone ordered his Harley Davidson to be painted with artwork similar to the tattoos on the client’s body. He was never even introduced, nor given the chance to speak a line.

The employee of the year in the third season

At the end of the third season, Danny wanted to choose the Employee of the Year in his shop and reward him with a classic 1975 Chevrolet Suburban. However, he said that he couldn’t choose just anyone since all of them worked pretty hard in making the shop successful, so he came up with a way to judge them fairly through a competition.

He took his crew to a sandy area with buggies, and the boys competed in a race. The first one who finished and turned the key on the Chevy would be the winner. Ryan wasn’t the first on the list when they started to race but he was able to maneuver the buggy quite efficiently, and ended up starting the Chevy.

Part of the main cast in the fourth season

The opening credits of the TV show remained the same for the first three seasons, and while Ryan was given more exposure and not just shown in the background, he wasn’t one of the major players. However, in the fourth season, his role in the show changed. Some of the people in the Count’s Kustoms garage left or were fired, and Ryan was given the chance to be part of the main crew. As his role expanded, he was included in the opening credits of the show in which Danny introduced his crew.

Introduced a new chrome spray technique to Danny

In the fifth season of “Counting Cars,” Danny wanted to make a quick flip on a classic 1962 Cadillac. Initially, he told Ryan that he wanted to blacken out all the chrome, as he didn’t want to renew the chrome since the process was way too expensive. Ryan said that usually he was always on the same page with the Boss, but that time he couldn’t do that to the Caddy. However, he also said that it’s not his money that would be spent, so he thought of a new way to re-chrome it by using a new spraying technique, which involved using chemicals and an activator. Instead of the expensive chrome dipping process, he introduced the more affordable process of doing it, and the Boss approved. It made the Cadillac look expensive when completed and they were able to flip it quickly for some huge bucks.

Inducted in the Hall of Fame at SEMA

During the eighth season of the show, Ryan and his wife Dana were invited to SEMA as he was inducted at the 2018 Mini Truck Hall of Fame for his contribution as a painter. He was part of the sixth group of inductees in that category during the SEMA Kick-Off Party held in October 2018 at the Hogs and Heifers Saloon in Las Vegas. Danny and the rest of the Count’s Kustoms team were there to celebrate the accolade given to Ryan.

Shades of Teal in a 1961 Cadillac for SEMA

In 2020, Ryan was under pressure to produce the best paint job for a 1961 Cadillac Coupe Deville that Danny had in his garage for quite some time. The Boss decided to partner with Matrix Automotive Finishes, so that Ryan could use the latest Matrix paint system for the Cadillac that was showcased in the SEMA tradeshow that year. Count’s Kustoms’ past entries in the annual event were all successful, so his reputation was on the line as the head painter in the shop, and he didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

Ryan put in many hours and even hurt himself by being so meticulous in following his plan. In the end his hard work paid-off, and he was able to incorporate the original color of the Cadillac, which was teal. His artistic way of blending different shades of teal into the car was highly appreciated, including the elegant graphic art he placed on the middle of the hood. He said it was such a thrill when Danny and the crew unveiled it at SEMA.

Alice Cooper’s spy car, the Studebaker Avanti

Everyone in Count’s Kustoms including Ryan couldn’t believe that rock legend Alice Cooper dropped by, to have his 1963 Studebaker Avanti restored with a new engine, paint, and the whole works. They were all nervous working on the project, as they didn’t want to disappoint the rock icon, especially when they heard a great background story about it. When Alice got the car in Portland 10 years previously, an old guy approached him and asked whose car was it.

Alice said it was his, and the guy said that he was a retired FBI agent. He checked the VIN number of the Avanti with the FBI system for confirmation, and told Alice that he’d busted a Soviet spy driving the car in the past. With that kind of history, Alice decided he wouldn’t part ways with it, and that was the reason he wanted to do an upgrade. When they tore everything apart, Ryan discovered that the Avanti had probably had an accident, and they corrected that damage first so that he could spray the new paint properly. He was always meticulous with every job he was given, and didn’t take any shortcuts whenever a problem came up, just to meet the deadline.

Ryan didn’t know what paint job to choose for his van

In Season 10 of “Counting Cars,” the painting crew at Count’s Kustoms were absolutely floored that the lead painter couldn’t decide what to do with his work van.

Despite his great reputation as one of the most talented automotive painters in the industry, Ryan was well-known in Vegas as the car painter who drove a crappy van. He knew he needed to do something about it, as it reflected on him as well as the garage. With so many awesome paint jobs he’d done in the past, he was still undecided as to what was the best paint job for his van. He and Mike even went around Danny’s showroom just to get an idea. He said he wanted something that he would still want to drive around, even after 10 years.

Eventually, with the encouragement of his colleagues and support from Danny, he was able to pour all the tricks he’d accumulated from his past experience into his van, from the interiors up to the ‘Master Vandal’ artwork he did on the side of the van. Everyone loved it, especially Danny, who jokingly said he partly owned it as everything used on it was from the shop.

Ryan Evans

Personal Life

In 2019, when Ryan wasn’t in the garage doing awesome painting jobs for their clients, or attending meet and greet events with the fans, he was just at home with his wife, Dana Pauley whom he married in March 2015. He was pretty much a hands-on Dad that he would take time to play with their son, Logan, and help his wife in putting up a Christmas tree that his son would enjoy. Logan loved that his dad would drive his classic white and gold Cadillac automobile to drop him off, right in front of the school.

However, fans were curious as to why Ryan stopped posting about his wife on his Instagram account. Dana, on the other hand, stopped hi-jacking Ryan’s Instagram to greet him during his birthday or Father’s Day.

The last post about his son was back in June 2019, and they were never mentioned again on his social media account. People speculated that they separated already because when they checked on Dana’s Twitter again, she started posting about healing, moving on, and new adventures with their son in August 2019. She never posted anything about Ryan again, as if he didn’t exist in their lives.

His net worth

According to an authoritative source, Ryan’s net worth was estimated at around $1 million. There were no reports of his exact appearance fee per episode in “Counting Cars”, but Danny earned $100,000 each episode and Count’s Kustoms was estimated to be worth around $10 million. Insiders assumed that Ryan’s TV contract increased when he became the lead painter.

Where is Ryan Evans now?

There were rumors that Ryan left Count’s Kustoms and would not be appearing on “Counting Cars” anymore, but his official social media accounts as well as the garage’s official Facebook account indicated otherwise. The rumors probably came from numerous speculations about the fate of other reality-TV shows, that stopped filming or were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

From his FB account, he shared photos of non-wheel-related projects that Count’s Kustoms finished. Apparently, they accepted painting and fabricating jobs that were used for centerpieces in companies. For instance, they painted a huge octopus with the tentacles spread out and placed on top of a cylindrical object that represented a planet.

The last three episodes of the 10th season were slated to be aired in November 2021, and everything seemed to be going well for the crew and the TV show. It would definitely shock the fans if History Channel decided not to order another season.

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