• Mark Towle is the sole owner of Gotham Garage
• The shop is located in Temecula, California
• Mark Towle has been sued by DC Comics for copyright infringement and by former employee Scott Lee for scamming
• The show "Car Masters: Rust To Riches" is popular among audiences and has had success on Netflix
• Criticism of the show is centered around lack of focus on car restoration processes
Due to the increasing popularity Gotham Garage has gained since the show “Car Masters: Rust To Riches” premiered in 2018, it’s no wonder the general public has grown curious about several aspects regarding the garage and its staff.
Though there’s no denying how eye-catching some aspects of the show are, not everyone is quite convinced with what’s shown on screen. That’s why speculation about supposedly staged scenes, staff members faking jobs, and even the lack of authenticity of Gotham Garage as a real business have been constant for some time now.
So is Gotham Garage a real car workshop? Who owns it and where exactly is it? Keep with us to know all!
Who Owns The Business?
Despite the doubts some people have regarding whether what is seen in “Car Masters” is real or not, it’s important to point out that Mark Towle is Gotham Garage’s sole owner known to date, as the existence of business partners is unknown.
It makes sense for him to be the shop’s only proprietor though, as Mark’s was the only name listed on court papers back when the business faced legal issues in the early 2010s.
Besides that, it’s for certain that Gotham Garage is an authentic business even when cameras are off. As seen on its website, they usually take commissions from the general public, though the time each project takes to be completed is evidently longer than seen on the show.
Although many people might not know it, Gotham Garage had been an active shop for a long while, before Netflix ever became interested in producing “Car Masters”. In fact, Mark Towle has been in the car restoration business for decades, making a name for himself for building and customizing automobiles, as showcased in fantasy and sci-fi themed movies and series.
Where Is It Located?
Besides showing us very eclectic car restorations, “Car Masters” sometimes also let’s us see some nearby areas surrounding the shop’s main location. If you ever grew curious about where exactly Gotham Garage is located, then you have to wonder no more.
The first location of Gotham Garage is in Riverside County, California; more specifically, the business is at 41979 Rio Nedo Road in Temecula, where the show is filmed on location. This was the garage’s only address until in 2019 the business opened a second shop, but the exact address of that one is unfortunately still unknown.
Other locations shown in “Car Masters” are typically in Temecula, such as the Fazeli Cellars Winery and Pechanga Resort and Casino, as the site Cinemaholic reports. Near San Diego, Temecula is in California’s southwest and is known for its tourist places, resorts and wineries. Though the town doesn’t seem to be the most fitting place for a car shop, it makes sense since it’s located near to such a financially thriving area.
Why Was Mark Sued?
Most people know Mark Towle thanks to “Car Masters: Rust To Riches”, but the truth is that his name was already in media headlines long before the show premiered, though not necessarily for positive reasons.
For decades, Mark has been making a living out of customizing cars eclectic enough to be featured in movies, or for the most daring collectors. However, his business took a strong hit when in 2011 DC Comics sued him for selling car replicas of the Batmobile, originally showcased in the film franchise “Batman”.
As court papers state, Mark was incurring ‘copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition’, though his defense rejected the claims by stating the productions which the Batmobile was featured in were ‘no subjects to copyright protection’.
The case’s outcome was determined by ‘whether a character in a comic book, television program or motion picture is entitled to copyright protection’, resulting in DC Comics winning the lawsuit. As the Ninth Circuit’s Court of Appeals determined, the “Batmobile”s recognizable characteristics made it possible for the company to be protected by the copyright laws.
Although it’s unknown if DC Comics asked for monetary compensation from Mark, it’s known that the replicas were being sold for $90,000 by Gotham Garage.
Concurrently with Mark Towle battling DC Comics in court, there was another lawsuit against him in the making. However, this time it came from his former employee, Scott Lee, who had worked for Gotham Garage for years as a website designer.
As it happens, Scott was hired by Mark to build the business’ website gothamgarage.net, in addition to providing other services as a graphic designer. The payment was agreed to be a Butts Batmobile kit based on the 1966’s “Batman” movie for Scott, who also agreed to pay thousands of dollars to the shop to compensate for the kit’s value, and buy a Corvette to put it on. The contract ended after a couple of years without Scott receiving his kit or car, a fact acknowledged by Mark in a notarized second contract.
Apparently, Mark didn’t provide Scott with the promised Batmobile kit under the argument that the website wasn’t finished, though as Scott affirmed, Mark’s refusal to give him the content and feedback necessary made it difficult to complete his job. After over four years of working for Mark, several months waiting for his payment, and a lawsuit from Mark for unlimited damages, Scott filed a counter lawsuit and a long legal battle started from there.
What Happened To The Case?
As Scott made the case public on the online forum, he was initially contacted by Gotham Garage, and dozens of online users who apparently went through similar professional experiences with Mark and his business partner Kory Geick, offered Scott their assistance as witnesses in court. As a plus, the website Don’t Get Geicked listed all the details about Scott’s and other cases alike, in order to seemingly prevent people from involving themselves with Mark’s businesses.
Despite the support Scott obtained, the case was comparable to the ‘David vs Goliath story’ due to how difficult it had been for him to go against Mark and his business: ‘They used to call me a dumb hillbilly living in a log cabin in West Virginia while they were threatening to sue me’.
Nonetheless, Scott’s efforts were compensated for. when in 2016 The Superior Court of California favored him by granting him compensation of $35,000 plus other damages and court costs. However, Scott wasn’t given back his car nor the Batmobile kit, while he still had to provide the project he was contracted for to Mark. Though he won the case, Scott apparently had planned to file an appeal to get the Corvette he purchased back, but it’s unknown what the outcome of that was.
Gotham Garage’s Success
Though not all people might agree or like Mark Towle’s business practices, as observed in the legal battles he has been through, it’s undeniable that he’d built a stable business by himself.
— Gotham Garage (@TheGothamGarage) November 10, 2021
While it’s mainly unknown how Netflix got a hold of Gotham Garage’s existence, the success “Car Masters: Rust To Riches” has achieved so far makes it evident that it was the right call for both parties. As reported by RatinGraph, “Car Masters” premiere episode had 8.0 ratings points on average, a number which was topped by the 9.1 points the episode “Back To The Future” scored later in the season, a success repeated in the following two seasons.
Although the fact the show is available through an online subscription platform probably plays a positive role in its popularity, there’s no denying “Car Masters” has rightfully earned its own audience, which is easily proven by the hundreds of thousands of followers they have on social media.
The Best Cars
Although “Car Masters” has faced its own share of criticism for not focusing entirely on car rebuilding and restoration, at the end of the day the show still has some good-looking finished projects to be proud of.
For starters, their Batmobile replicas were a sight to behold, despite the legal issues surrounding them. Their slick black exteriors, red painted details and curved windscreens surely makes them one of Gotham Garage’s most notable works.
Other gorgeous-looking projects definitely include the green Hot Wheels’ inspired “Splittin’Image” car, and the “Speed Racer” replica, both built over C4 Corvettes. If we go for more modest-looking cars, it’s necessary to mention the Volkswagen Beetle featured in the first season’s episode “Buggin’ Out”, which became an over-the-top car after conversion into a hot rod.
When it comes to Ford T-buckets, the “Fire Truck” was especially thrilling to see, as Gotham Garage staff successfully transformed it into a hot rod, without leaving behind its firefighting-inspired esthetic. Now going with the daring ones, the show’s second season premiere greatly pleased us when it showed a Ford Pinto being rebuilt into a race car. However, the most notable thing about it besides its striking deep purple paint job, is its environment-friendly mechanics.
What’s Up With The Cast?
Behind any popular show, there’s a committed cast who sometimes become the main reason people watch the show. In the case of “Car Masters”, some stars are evidently more popular than others, but they’re always noticeable.
Even if part of his fame might have been overshadowed by his legal issues, there are many positive things to say about Mark Towle. First of all, his upbringing is quite inspiring. As the son of a single mother and with a financially-troubled family most-likely having to face many hardships growing up, those didn’t stop his evident talent at transforming and redesigning whatever he liked.
He passed from transforming old and damaged toys to doing the same with cars, eventually building a portfolio notable enough to work for big production companies in search of fantastic-looking automobiles. Some of his props have been showcased in productions such as “Kamen Rider Dragon Knight”, and the show “America’s Most Wanted”.
Although Mark Towle is Gotham Garage’s owner, Constance Nunes evidently surpasses him and her other co-stars in popularity. While her gorgeous looks might mislead anyone into thinking that she’s not fitting for the car business, she actually grew up helping out her father in his garage, and since then had been hired by small car shops.
Constance’s involvement with the car world wasn’t limited to the workshop, though. She was eventually contracted by big brand names such as BMW and Audi to promote their products, as well as a marketing expert. Constance’s appearance has also earned her a place in the world of fashion, modeling for brands such as Guess and Marciano. Her social media also shows she’s constantly promoting small brands, and attending car events as a celebrity.
In early 2020 Constance announced that her shop Cars By Constance was finally available.
Though it’s unclear if she intends to transform it into a car-oriented project in the future, for now the website offers limited prints her fans surely are pleased to see. To show how widely popular she is, Constance has over a million followers on Instagram.
Michael ‘Caveman’ Pyle
His appearances in “Car Masters” extend from the first season to the latest one, but besides his important role as Gotham Garage mechanic, Michael Pyle is a man hard to forget. As if his nickname ‘Caveman’ and characteristic grey beard don’t make him enough of an outstanding presence in the show, Michael is well-liked on social media as well.
As seen on his Instagram feed, Michael’s ‘let’s go clubbing’’ motto goes beyond a literal meaning, as his personality and positive attitude hugely entertain his almost 80,000 followers. He also has the website Club Caveman Cartel, on which he sells self-designed merchandise.
His skills as a manufacturer and builder make Tony Quinones’ presence in “Car Masters” hard to ignore.
However, he’s more than just what’s seen in the show, and actually owns his car business TQ Customs, which specializes in custom building a limited variety of automobile models. As well, Tony quite often attends car events and exhibitions.
Is “Car Masters” Real?
Any TV show is subject to critiques and reviews, and while sometimes those might favour them, other times things could turn negative too. In the case of “Car Masters: Rust To Riches”, the audience is quite meticulous when it comes to series’ content.
As reported by TV-commentary portals, the main concern regarding the show is the lack of focus on the car restoration processes. Of course, not every car show out there displays every step they take in their projects, but it’s understandable that the “Car Masters” audience considers the lack of scenes documenting the car’s transformation a suspicious aspect.
Though these assumptions might potentially affect any other show, nothing seems to stop the success “Car Masters: Rust To Riches” is having so far.