It seemed like your standard L.A. schmooze event: a warehouse party with champagne handed out at the door, people dressed in their best black waiting in line for Asian fusion finger foods and specialty drinks poured through an ice luge. Then, wafting over the bao rolls, the aroma of fresh rubber. Turns out this warehouse is actually a warehouse operating in the City of Industry and owned by the Coker Tire Company, an antique wheel and tire outfit with a niche market that’s made them rich. In fact, their manufacturing business is so successful, its expanded from the Coker’s hometown in Chattanooga, Tennessee all the way to California.
Corky Coker makes the grand opening official.
But that’s not the only reason the Coker family have headed west. They’ve gone Hollywood, with a new reality series on the Travel Channel, “Backroad Gold,” which premieres tonight at 9:30p.m. The show follows patriarch Corky Coker, the reality world’s more clean-cut (and less potty-mouthed) iteration of Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.” Instead of a Middle Earth-worthy beard, Corky sports a fluffy white mustache. Instead of traipsing through the backwoods and bayous, Corky travels the South in search of vintage cars and auto memorabilia he can fix up. Along the way, he meets all sorts of people, including the type that keeps an antique car in the same barn where they keep their cows. Think “American Pickers” meets “Counting Cars.” (Which is likely how the producers’ pitched it.)
Much like “Duck Dynasty,” the series (shot in Tennessee) puts the spotlight on Corky’s family, including his parents, wife, and daughter Casey, who stood proudly onstage with her dad for the warehouse’s ribbon cutting ceremony. “When I was a kid, tires didn’t seem so glamorous,” she said after the event. But hey, neither did duck whistles.
Christina Wolfgram is a blogger who, like most Angelenos, pretty much lives in her car (a 2011 Ford Fiesta. ¡Ole!) Her mission? To investigate the California car-mosphere. Visit CityThink every other week to experience L.A. from this Lady Driver’s perspective, and follow her adventures on Twitter @TheCWolf.