Ex-actor a big wheel now
an actor, Elliot Cuker got tired people telling him that something about
him—his nose, maybe — made him wrong for a role.
found (acting] very humiliating," Cuker, 52, said. "It was out
That emotional battle, combined with the uncertainty all actors face over the arrival of their next paycheck, sent Cuker looking for a solution. He found his answer in cars. Today, he's the head of Cooper Classic Cars.
he appeared in a handful of small Off-Broadway productions , Cuker felt
as if he had lost the handle on his future. However, being a "typical
crazy artist," he also wasn't overwhelmed at the prospects of entering
the business world.
move from off the stage to behind the wheel happened in 1979. Using his
"acting" skills — along with a used Bentley and a fictitious
name — he launched a limo service.
car company owner — the person callers would get when making a reservation—was
Elliot Cooper, who had a distinctly British accent. But the guy who did
the driving was named Cuker.
driving soon led to wheeling and dealing in classic cars — where he learned
he could easily double his money. He later gave up the limo business after
growing tired of dealing with the chauffeurs he hired and devoted his
energy to full-time car sales and restoration.
Cuker understood one thing: Cars can change a person's image.
peddles the used cars he call "classics". The least-expensive
ride among his fleet, which is housed in a former Greenwich Village church,
is a 1965 Mustang convertible that
goes for about $5,000. The most expensive? A 1965 Rolls Royce
No surprise, his buyers aren't your average Joes. For example, Cuker said he's sold 30 cars — "expensive ones" — to the King of Morocco. "These cars are art and reflect a man's way of thinking at the time," he said from his office overlooking a portion or his stable. "The beauty is much more integral to the design."
A millionare a few time over, Cuker still longs for the stage. He's back making the rounds of' casting agents, hoping to land work in Film or TV with little success. Seems that even with all money it still takes a modicum of talent to make it these days.
thought this," he said gesturing to his cars,