Being the only female member of the Gotham Garage crew in the reality-television show “Car Masters: Rust to Riches,” made Constance Nunes a celebrity almost immediately when it premiered on 14 September 2018. Fans were curious about how such a glamorous, beautiful woman ended up being an engine specialist in a male-dominated world, many questioning if she did any real work around the garage. She was aware of how most people reacted to her presence in the show, and hoped that her self-description on her Instagram account, ‘Just a glam girl wrenching in a boys world,’ would be enough of an answer.
- 1 Constance’s early life and family
- 2 Her life before Gotham Garage
- 3 Constance as a reality-TV star from “Car Masters: Rust to Riches”
- 4 “Car Masters” Crew: For Real or Reel
- 5 Constance’s top memorable moments in “Car Masters: Rust to Riches”
- 6 Cars by Constance – Her new shop
- 7 What is Constance doing now?
Constance’s early life and family
Constance Nunes was born on 17 November 1989, in Los Angeles, California.
Her passion for tinkering with car engines developed when she was growing up, for two simple reasons – first was because her father, Eric Nunes, was a professional drag racer, and second, her family was into building cars, so to her, everyone was into the automotive industry, and she spent most of her childhood surrounded by people talking about cars. Constance didn’t share many details about her family, but she would often post pictures with her father on her Instagram. During one Father’s Day celebration, she mentioned that merely saying the words, ‘Happy Father’s Day,’ wasn’t enough, and further wrote, ‘You are my biggest inspiration and strength, not only in my career but also in the life to become a better person.’
At 16 years old, Constance was at the peak of her teenage rebellion phase, so instead of following the family tradition of driving a Chevy, she bought her own classic – a 1964 Ford Mustang, and called it ‘Babystang.’ She found it in another state as the type wasn’t easily accessible, and had it shipped to her father’s auto shop, Conejo Automotive Repairs/Services in Thousand Oaks, California.
Her life before Gotham Garage
Constance was a model – some would say role model first, because she became professionally involved in a garage as a mechanic. Her good looks and curvaceous body was her ticket to the modeling world. While Constance didn’t conquer the catwalk professionally, apparently because her height wasn’t that impressive, she was a print model for a few clothing brands, along with cosmetic and technological products. She also became one of those umbrella-holding Nitto Tire girls, standing in the background of fan events for race car drivers.
Constance was also involved in movie-making as a stuntwoman, in “Dodgeball” and “Bring It On.” While she had an acting part in the former, being an actress wasn’t her ultimate dream, although she admitted to having fun working on a movie set. She also had a minor part in one of National Geo Channel’s TV show, “The Numbers Game,” and then in a flurry of music videos such as Enrique Iglesia’s “I’m a Freak” featuring Pitbull; Michael Canitrot’s “Young Forever,” and Paris Hilton’s “High Off My Love” featuring Birdman.
It didn’t take long for her to be featured in commercials, with one of her biggest gigs opposite actor Christopher Walken in a KIA commercial that was shown during the 2016 Superbowl. However, it was aired before she became one of the main cast of a reality-TV show, so nobody recognized her.
However, people would take notice when an attractive woman like Constance pulled up in a Ford Mustang. Some would immediately contact the ‘phone number printed on a sticker on the back of her car, hoping that they would have a chance to hit it up with the Portuguese-descended beauty, only to find out that it was her father’s auto shop number. It was where she spent most of her spare time, tinkering with her car, while getting automotive lessons from her father and his crew. While she learned many things under their guidance over the years, she knew it wasn’t enough, so she worked under experts in the service departments of automotive giants such as Acura, Audi, BMW and Ford. She was also appointed aftermarket director, which expanded her knowledge about the automotive industry.
Constance as a reality-TV star from “Car Masters: Rust to Riches”
With her resume, Constance was offered a part in Netflix’s reality-TV show called “Car Masters: Rust to Riches.” At that time, she was already building cars for Southern California auto specialty shops such as Charlie’s Corvettes & Classics and Cars Etc. She eventually became part of the Gotham Garage’s crew headed by owner Mark Towle; other members of the crew were mechanic Michael Pyle fondly called the “Caveman,” fabricator Tony Quinones, and negotiator/deal-maker Shawn Pilot. The TV series debuted on Netflix in September 2018.
The premise of the show
Mark customized props for movie and TV sets, including cars and other machinery needed in the story. After making enough money out of it, he eventually bought Gotham Garage. The producers of the TV show “Car Masters: Rust to Riches,” chronicled the project transactions in the garage and the interactions between the crew members.
The premise of the TV series was that Gotham Garage did not simply restore and resell cars per project, but did a series of restoring, upgrading, and trading different types of vehicles. Shawn would get the vehicle that they would either restore or upgrade, and then trade it for another vehicle that was more valuable. They would repeat this process until they reached their end goal of a six-figure profit.
For instance, after they found a dilapidated 1953 Buick, they restored and upgrade it with more motor power, that make its worth $30,000. It would be traded for a Chevy Blazer with a removable top, and after it received a makeover to become a badass pickup truck, it was worth around $60,000. Shawn then traded it for a replica of the 1959 Corvette Stingray, and after it went under Gotham Garage restoration, the now upgraded car would be sold for over $100,000.
Constance, the engine specialist
From the get-go, fans of these types of reality-TV shows were highly skeptical of Constance’s skills – many eyebrows were raised when she was introduced as the crew’s engine specialist.
Well…you guys have been asking and asking, and asking why i havent posted any of my builds in awhile and it’s because I’ve been working on this big secret! SEASON 2 OF #CARMASTERSRUSTTORICHES IS FINALLY HERE!!!!🥳 You can watch season 2 on @netflix March 27th! pic.twitter.com/JcGuwIYPVC
— Constance Nunes (@constance_nunes) February 21, 2020
Nobody could be blamed for having that reaction, as she never looked like someone who would get down under the hood of a car to fix some greasy part. During the premiere episode, the TV producers made sure that viewers saw that she could handle all that by getting her clothes dirty while holding a wrench to help disassemble and reassemble car parts.
The confident way she spoke and her extensive knowledge about cars contradicted the first negative impression that the audience had of her. However, with all the work Constance supposedly said she did in that first episode, it seemed that her hands, particularly her long, manicured nails, weren’t dirty enough by garage standards. Some of the viewers continued to be curious and suspicious. The good thing though was that most of the fans couldn’t care less if she actually did the job or not. Her breathtaking presence in the garage was enough for them to appreciate her inclusion in the show, and for them to tune-in.
“Car Masters” Crew: For Real or Reel
Several accusations regarding the authenticity of “Car Masters: Rust to Riches” were thrown on social media forum discussions. It wasn’t something exclusive to the TV show, so Constance and the rest of the cast members weren’t that bothered. Allegations of being staged or scripted have been shared by all TV networks that have reality-TV shows on their programming schedule.
However, no matter how real the situations were on each episode, at some point it would be given a ‘creative touch’ to increase its production value. It’s business after all, and without the required numbers on the rating game, TV executives would never have greenlit another season. Having said that, no TV producer would admit to any deception no matter how trivial it might be, as fans have become less tolerant and developed the “cancel culture” attitude in recent years.
Gotham Garage existed before or for the show
There were claims that Mark’s shop, Gotham Garage, existed for two decades before Netflix’s producers discovered them, but their official website didn’t seem to indicate that it had a long history. Fans found it curious that for a shop to have existed that long, the crew never bragged about some unique car building or customized project stories along with photos and videos that they did in the past. People were left wondering as to why everything that was on the website was only about what Mark’s crew did on the TV show. It could be that the webmasters didn’t want a complex site, so they didn’t include all their past achievements or they just manufactured a background story for the TV show, as alleged by other reality-TV fans.
The main cast were real experts or not
When accusations of being a fake show came about, expect deeper scrutiny about the major players of “Car Masters: Rust to Riches” – Constance and Shawn were the cast members whom people doubted the most. Both of them had acting gigs in the past, and it probably undermined their other skills.
Shawn was also a professional poker player, who participated in about 70 live competitions, while Constance was listed as a model with several modeling gigs as posted in her Instagram account. Most people couldn’t reconcile how those two were able to perform their tasks as part of Gotham Garage, and still pursue other careers. The automotive restoration process might look quick and easy on TV, but in reality it would take months to finish. It was as if those two were added to the crew to give the TV show more spice, and the narrative a unique spin. Whatever the case may be, it worked for them as the show continued to release episodes even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and has just aired its third season on 4 August 2021.
Constance’s top memorable moments in “Car Masters: Rust to Riches”
Here are some of the moments where Mark relied on Constance’s skills, or gave her the lead on a car restoration project that they had:
The 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1
When one of their project cars met an accident in the second season, Mark and Shawn went on to buy a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 from one of the automotive junkyards in Temecula, California for $8,000. They don’t usually spend that much money for a trade-up car, but it was proven to be a safe gamble as many car enthusiasts loved it, especially after they treated it to a Gotham Garage experience. Mark immediately knew that the moment Constance saw it, she would insist on working on it. She built her own Mustang from the ground up from her garage and it would be a piece of cake for her. True enough, when they brought it back to the garage, she was quite excited and said, ‘I didn’t know it’s Christmastime already.’ She was ordered to look for the biggest motor she could find for it, and she came up with one of 428 horsepower.
Finding a buyer for a Vaydor Kit Car
When the Gotham Garage needed more money to reach their six-digit payday, they managed to build The Vaydor, a body kit that could be installed on a stock car such as the Infiniti G35 coupe that was manufactured from 2003 to 2007.
Their biggest concern that time was quickly finding the person they could sell it to; Shawn then leaned on Constance to check out her Rolodex for big-time car dealers. Initially, she teased Shawn and told him that she didn’t want to bring him along as Constance felt he might embarrass her to her friends and other business associates. She introduced Shawn to her friends who were eager to help them find a buyer, and soon his field trip with Constance paid-off, and they were able to sell the Vaydor for $87,500 through her contacts, which took them closer to their profit goal.
Donating a Car to the Peterson Automotive Museum
During the second season of “Car Masters: Rust to Riches,” the crew encountered many obstacles to reach their six-figure payday goal. To top it off, they established a partnership with Peterson Automotive Museum, which was not a bad thing at all, but they were short on cash to be able to donate any car that they rebuilt.
It was a case of wrong timing, but Constance didn’t hesitate to agree with Shawn and Mark to donate to the museum the 1960 Plymouth XNR replica that they were working on. Historically, the 1960 XNR was originally just a concept car but when it was finished, it surpassed many expectations in the auto industry. At that time, Chrysler didn’t have any two-seater roadsters, as compared to GM and Ford, so they decided to build it. It was a rare find, and the Gotham Garage crew knew that they could have fetched huge money if they decided to flip it. The Caveman and Tony were initially hesitant, and even joked that they were about to go broke with honor when they discussed the donation, but eventually they were all on the same page.
Been getting a lot of request to do an OnlyFans account….I’ve decided I’m probably going to make one…..filled with super….sensual….photos of….Babystang…..i mean…I’m just trying to give the people what they want 🤷🏽♀️ you want sexy, i got you💋 pic.twitter.com/CI0mrHg6ub
— Constance Nunes (@constance_nunes) May 28, 2020
Cars by Constance – Her new shop
While she’s still part of Mark’s crew at Gotham Garage, Constance recently established her own shop called Cars by Constance. She partnered with automotive brands such as Mickey Thompson Tires, Rockstar Performance Garage, Edelbrock, and VP Racing Fuels, and planned on building specialty cars from her own shop just as she did with her ‘Babystang.’ Constance will soon reveal a customized 1965 off-road Ford Mustang that she fondly called ‘Dangerstang.’ Her online site isn’t yet fully functional, but she can receive inquiries from car enthusiasts willing to spend money for a custom-made specialty car. There are no extensive car photos yet under her Cars by Constance brand, except those of her ‘Babystang.’ Her online store boasts of her sexy photos, which cost $15 to $30 each.
What is Constance doing now?
During the off-season, Constance would divide her time between building specialty cars or hot rods in her shop, modeling, and making guest appearances at various events such as premiere auto conventions, and trade shows such as the Specialty Equipment Market Association or SEMA, and Motorama. She was busier when “Car Masters: Rust to Riches” became popular, and before the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, she participated in several high-profile car races, as she’s a professional car racer just like her father. When things go back to normal after the Covid-19 vaccinations, fans could expect her to race in The Gumball Rally.
Amidst the allegations that her résumé as a car builder was manufactured by TV producers for the TV show due to her good looks, Constance continued to prove people wrong. She broke the traditional belief that glamorous women didn’t have a place in the rough and dirty world of the male-dominated automotive industry. She said, ‘your main goal is to always represent that your appearances do not have to compromise your skill.’