Is Gotham Garage real? All about the famous auto shop

Gotham Garage

Season 4 of Car Masters: Rust to Riches recently premiered on Netflix, delighting the show’s millions of fans. The show revolves around building extraordinary cars dreamed up by the crew or a customer. You will not find any other car modification team on television that can match up to the skill and the daring of the Car Masters crew. 

People, even those that aren’t car enthusiasts, tune into the show just to see what the cast has dreamed up and successfully created. 

The showrunners film Car Masters in a garage dubbed Gotham Garage. Some fans wonder whether Gotham Garage is real or, like the city it’s named after, a fictional place. 

Gotham Garage is an actual garage founded by modification enthusiast Mark Towle

Mark Towle
Mark Towle | gotham.garage/Instagram

Gotham Garage is a real garage based in California. It has a substantial social media following its connection with Car Masters. The garage’s about page on its website reads:

“The Crew overhauls an eclectic collection of cars with the goal of trading their way up to a showstopper that can be sold for big bucks. Towle and his crew are hoping they can use their sweat equity and sheer car genius to turn their rusty wrecks into six-figure paydays.”

The garage is the brainchild of Mark Towle. Mark grew up alongside three siblings in a relatively poor single-parent household. According to Towle’s IMDb profile, he enjoyed dumpster diving with his best friend as he would collect broken toys and gadgets for rebuilding and customization projects. 

“That’s when Mark Towle knew exactly what God created him to do,” the profile adds. Towle didn’t have enough capital to launch a business; therefore, he became a prop builder for movie studios as he saved money for Gotham Garage. 

Since Gotham Garage’s founding, Towle has built custom cars, boats, motorcycles, and a helicopter. His work has featured in productions like America’s Most WantedThe Today Show, Gearz, and Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight

Towle and his crew make thousands of dollars on some projects. However, on rare occasions, Mark builds cars for prestige. For instance, the team built a Plymouth XNR replica and donated it to the Petersen car museum. 

The project was not only expensive but ridiculously complex as Plymouth didn’t produce the XNR; they only made a concept car. Therefore, the crew had to build some of the car pieces due to the unavailability of spare parts. 

The Petersen museum only accepts authentic replicas of the original, which placed further pressure on Towle. As a testament to their skill and dedication, the Gotham Garage crew did such an excellent job that an ordinary guy wouldn’t differentiate between the original and the replica. 

Mark Towle’s professional exploits are well documented, but he’s shared little about his private life. 

DC Comics won a lawsuit against Gotham Garage, preventing the auto shop from building Batmobile replicas

Gotham Garage also builds replica vehicles from television and film. However, Gotham Garage no longer makes the Batmobile following DC Comics’ lawsuit victory against the auto shop. 

DC Comics’ suit claimed that replicas of the Batmobiles that appeared in the 1966 TV show Batman and the 1989 film Batman violated copyright laws. US District Court Judge Ronald Lew agreed with the plaintiffs. Part of his judgment read:

“Defendant did not copy the design of a mere car; he copied the Batmobile character. The fact that the unauthorized Batmobile replicas that the Defendant manufactured – which are derivative works – may be ‘useful articles’ is irrelevant.”

The court also found that Towle violated Batmobile trademarks by using them in his advertising. Judge Lew concluded that the trademark infringements could have misled customers into believing Towle had a relationship with DC Comics. 

Towle’s attorney Larry Zerner protested the judgment, questioning the impact of the court’s broad interpretation of copyright law. Zerner said:

“The implications of a ruling upholding this standard are easy to imagine. Ford, Toyota, Ferrari and Honda would start publishing comic books so that they could protect what, up until now, was unprotectable.”

Towle’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit failed: the court affirmed Judge Lew’s decision, finding that the Batmobile passed the three-pronged test determining copyright protection. Gotham Garage’s legal challenge ended when the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case. 

Fans suspect that some aspects of Car Masters aren’t real

Car Masters

We’ve established Gotham Garage is real, but there’s still some doubt over the authenticity of Car Masters

The show’s use of actors as crew members has raised eyebrows. For instance, the main mechanic Shawn Pilot has appeared in several productions, including the film Three Kings

Fans have also questioned the only female crew member Constance Nunes and her affiliation with other brands. She’s modeled for VP Racing Fuels, Rockstar Energy Drinks, and Feral Cosmetics. Nunes occasionally gets her hands dirty in Car Masters, but we wonder whether the crew stages those scenes. 

A recurring criticism of car masters is the insufficient coverage of the actual car building. It makes one wonder whether there’s another knowledgeable crew that handles the build while the show’s main characters only participate in the dramatic scenes. 

Reality series showrunners often spice up the show with fabricated drama to keep viewers interested – and we suspect Car Masters have several instances of fake theatrics. Some of the crew members might not even participate in the actual building. 

However, despite the fictitious aspect of reality shows, we still tune in due to their entertainment value. Car Masters is no different – it’s an absorbing reality show about insane car builds seasoned with a bit of drama.