No matter how exciting and adrenaline-inducing car-centered shows are, they’re hardly what we search for when we want to see relatable people or situations on TV.
Nonetheless, it’s a different story when it comes to “Garage Squad”. Despite focusing on fixing cars on TV, the show hits close to home for pleasing that section of the audience who know how to do the job, but don’t have the time or energy for it.
While the Motor Trend’s show has been fascinating us since its premiere in 2014, there’s no denying that the series’ former co-host Cristy Lee had our individual attention for a long time too.
So whatever happened to her? Why did she leave the show and what is she doing now? Keep with us to know it all!
- 1 What Is She Doing Now?
- 2 Why Did She Leave “Garage Squad”?
- 3 Who Pays For “Garage Squad” Projects?
- 4 Does Cristy Know Her Way With Cars?
- 5 What Did She Do Before “Garage Squad”?
- 6 “Garage Squad” & Other Projects
- 7 Cristy’s Beginnings
- 8 Public Appearances
- 9 What Are Cristy’s Favorite Cars?
- 10 What Happened To “Garage Squad” After She Left?
What Is She Doing Now?
Given how popular Cristy Lee is in the niche of car-centered shows, it’s not surprising that many people were flabbergasted to see her leaving “Garage Squad” in early 2020.
If you were one of those fans who was heartbroken by it, we have good news for you. In August 2021, Cristy went back to TV for the premiere of “Celebrity IOU: Joyride”, a new show she co-hosts with the expert car fabricator Ant Anstead. While the show’s format only includes six episodes for its first season, it featured worldwide renowned celebrities such as Renée Zellweger, James Marsden and Octavia Spencer.
This is actually a spin-off from the original “Celebrity IOU” hosted by Drew and Jonathan Scott, as they renovated houses for individuals chosen by celebrities out of gratitude. For its part, “Joyride”s concept doesn’t change a lot compared to the original show, but instead of doing house-flipping projects, Cristy and Ant made people’s dream-car a reality.
While so far another season of “Joyride” hasn’t been announced, Cristy’s social media tells us that she’s quite busy with other projects.
Besides the building of her own motorcycle, she’s often seen attending huge car exhibitions such as Special Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and Motor Bella.
Why Did She Leave “Garage Squad”?
It’s fantastic to see that Cristy Lee’s career in the TV industry continues to thrive, however, it’s normal to still wonder why she suddenly left “Garage Squad”.
As it happens, Cristy’s journey with “Garage Squad” was a short one, as she appeared in only 20 episodes of the series, split between the sixth and seventh seasons. That little fact made some people believe it was always planned that she would leave the show at some point. Meanwhile, the fact that her exit from “Garage Squad” coincided with an appendectomy she went through in March 2020, the theory of her taking indefinite leave from the show to take care of her health was a strong one.
However, none of that was true.
In an interview with Hour Detroit magazine in August 2021, Cristy assured that despite being committed to “Garage Squad”, the several problems caused by the COVID-19 contingency delayed the series’ filming for a long time. When the show’s production actually managed to set a date for “Garage Squad”s production to restart, it coincided with the making of her new show “Joyride”
Choosing between both shows might have been hard, but in the end Cristy went with “Joyride”, considering it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that she couldn’t pass-up.
Who Pays For “Garage Squad” Projects?
Usually, any type of flipping projects isn’t cheap at all. There are many costs associated with renovations which are often overlooked, added to the products and manpower that’s required to make any project a reality. It’s due to this, that one of the most common questions which renovation TV series receive is: where does the money to do that come from?
Of course, not every show has it in themselves to answer that question sincerely, but as you might imagine, “Garage Squad” manages things differently in this regard. On their website, the show’s team explained that the products used in their projects are provided by their sponsors, and what’s not paid by companies or local businesses, is afforded by the show’s production. Though the car’s owners don’t pay for anything, their workforce is always well appreciated too.
Does Cristy Know Her Way With Cars?
If there’s a genre that isn’t known for telling the truth, that’s certainly reality TV. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, it isn’t rare to find these types of series changing, and even staging situations, to make them seem legitimate, but more dramatic and interesting.
While usually viewers don’t question the genuineness of what’s seen in “Garage Squad”, there are still some people who to this day still wonder if Cristy actually worked as part of the renovation team, or if it was a staged stunt.
However, we can assure you that not only was Cristynot afraid of getting her hands dirty by painting or doing mechanical work on the cars, but she actually welcomed doing so.
As seen on her website’s bio, she has been around cars her entire life, learning the basics of mechanics and everything car-related from her father. She wasn’t only the girl who paid attention to what her father did in his car shop, but also accompanied him on his motorcycle rides, developing a strong passion for speed in the process.
Cars are clearly an important part of her life on and off-camera. As seen on her social media, when she’s not working on someone else’s car on television, she’s using her free time to build her own motorcycle, or restore her 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix.
What Did She Do Before “Garage Squad”?
As expected, “Garage Squad” was not Cristy Lee’s first TV job, though surprisingly enough, her debut in the entertainment world was in a non-car-related show.
As it happens, in 1997 Cristy made her TV debut in “Wild On”, the internationally famous show which took celebrities to the most paradisiacal places around the world. However, Cristy’s single appearance in the show was simply as the winner of a surfing competition.
At least 16 years passed before Cristy actually set foot in a TV studio by becoming the host of “Tunnel Of Fire”, a special which documented the events before and after the motorcycle freestyle rider Clint Ewing attempted to ride through a tunnel of fire to break a Guinness Record, a risky stunt which was reported by papers all around the world for its catastrophic result.
Cristy then went on to briefly host several sports shows, before her big opportunity came with “All Girls Garage”. Besides bringing her widespread fame, the experience gave Cristy ‘the opportunity to work on vehicles using aftermarket products that I’d likely never get my hands on’, as she said in an interview with Journal Classic Cars. She eventually left “All Girls Garage” in 2019.
“Garage Squad” & Other Projects
Cristy Lee joined “Garage Squad” in 2019 as a host and mechanic, bringing the show the stability it needed at the time, as prior to her debut, the previous host Heather Storms left to pursue new professional opportunities, and “Garage Squad” was still pretty much new on Motor Trend back then, as their first three seasons were aired on a different network.
Cristy proved to be the perfect addition to the show’s team due to her talent and ability to make herself loved by the audience. As “Garage Squad” leader builder Joe Zolper affirmed, her personality and work ethic made her a person too easy to trust: ‘I’ve been watching her, and as a real gearhead I can spot a phony from a mile away. That’s not Cristy’.
Cristy affirms that what motivated her to join the series was its concept, and how it explored aspects not easily found in your run-of-the-mill car show. Instead of focusing on only completing a cool project and getting it over with, she found “Garage Squad” different: ‘it’s more about the story of that ride and the owner and that’s what really sets this show apart.’
Besides hosting “Celebrity IOU: Joyride” after leaving “Garage Squad”, Cristy has hosted shows such as “Best Of Top Gear”, and was a panellist in the debate series “Shift Talker”.
Born and raised in Florida’s Daytona Beach, Cristy Lee’s childhood stories sound like any child’s dream. Besides the obvious influence his father had on her love for everything automotive, Cristy grew up surrounded by nature and was given enough freedom to explore it by herself. Her early childhood’s experiences unsurprisingly played a role in her adventurous nature later in life.
Cristy’s evident fascination with cars and motorcycles were a good combination with her love for design and construction. As she describes it, her father’s ‘DIY mantra’ follows her into every project she puts her mind in.
However, sometimes passion is not enough to pay bills, and that’s something which Cristy experienced first-hand.
In a risky move, she left her comfortable life in Florida to put her savings into Detroit’s real estate business, while looking for career opportunities in her new city. That’s how she entered the entertainment industry – by becoming a radio DJ and later a reporter. Though she’s well known for her specialty as an automobile-connoisseur, Cristy is no stranger to sports, and has appeared on renowned networks such as ESPN and Speed.
Cristy’s also a very experienced motocross racer, and practices a wide variety of other sports, including surfing, snowboarding and weightlifting.
Due to her huge popularity on television and social media, Cristy has made use of her charisma and ease to be loved by audiences, to open new professional doors for herself.
As seen on her Instagram page, on which she has over 200,000 followers, Cristy often attends automotive exhibitions and races as a brand ambassador, or to attract people to said events.
Although Cristy’s social media feeds are not overtly-filled with paid ads, as average influencers’ pages usually look like, no one can say she doesn’t play a role in her audience’s purchasing decisions with her product recommendations and reviews. It’s not for less though, as she’s widely considered an expert in muscle cars and bikes.
Cristy’s loyal fans can buy her posters through her official website, though we don’t doubt that she will probably expand her merchandise options in the future. As well, Cristy’s site offers contract possibilities for those who want her to host or promote their events.
What Are Cristy’s Favorite Cars?
As an automotive enthusiast through and through, it’s expected that Cristy would have her favorites in the automotive world.
Although so far her car collection isn’t large, she has confessed to wanting to purchase several classic models, such as the 1969 Mustang Boss 302, 1969 Camaro Z/28 and the 1970 AAR Cuda, as she considers that muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s are the most powerful performance-wise.
Also a fan of motorcycles, she definitely prefers Kawasakis. However, while her wish is to expand her automobile collection with a proper budget, Cristy confessed that she doesn’t have enough space at home for all the cars she wants.
For now, her small garage is occupied by a 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix she inherited from her grandfather, when he didn’t have enough space to store it. Nonetheless, the Pontiac had to go through a severe restoration process led by Cristy, for it to look the way it should. It was worth the effort though, as the car isn’t only a reminder of precious family moments, but also it feels that it was meant for her: ‘I didn’t really choose it, it chose me’, she affirmed.
What Happened To “Garage Squad” After She Left?
Cristy’s exit from “Garage Squad” was undoubtedly sad, but it wasn’t the end of the world for the show.
In October 2021, “Garage Squad” eighth season premiere was shown, and with a new team member to replace Cristy. Her name is Sarah Lateiner, but known as Bogi, a car enthusiast and mechanic, a native from New York.
Bogi’s history with cars is just as normal as it’s endearing. She didn’t grow up surrounded by cars, but the love for her Volkswagen Beetle and the several negative experiences she had while trying to fix it, led her to become a self-taught mechanic in her teens. What started as only a hobby eventually became her life’s passion and career.
The addition of Bogi to “Garage Squad” is exciting, and also shows there’s no animosity between Cristy and her former co-workers. To the joy of their fans, it’s really fortunate that there are a lot of positive things waiting for the show and for Cristy in the future.