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Lou Santiago (born 1963) is a retired U. S. Navy Seabee, an automotive builder and fabricator, and television host/personality.
Lou was born on a Monday, in May 1963, in the Bronx, New York, to Lily, an aspiring school teacher and Raul Santiago, an ironworker. His parents and two siblings later moved from The Bronx to Hempstead, Long Island hoping to achieve the American dream of suburbia. In Long Island, he graduated from Uniondale High School where he attended a two-year trade program in diesel mechanics with the Board of Cooperative Education Services, better known as “B.O.C.E.S.”
While B.O.C.E.S. only added to his knowledge of car building, Lou had already begun his lust for car building at the age of 13 with his longtime friend and MOPAR fanatic, Wayne Swanson. Their love for street racing with Wayne’s ’68 Dart with a 340 and later 383 with a 4-speed involved budget car building and creative fabrication. His Navy career only increased his desire for building very cool cars. His work required that he maintain heavy equipment and when overseas with parts sparse, the need for creative fabrication became invaluable.
Lou joined the U.S. Navy in 1981 as a Seabee mechanic supporting Navy Seal Team Eight. As a Seabee, Lou was responsible for maintaining heavy equipment that was vital to the safety and support of Team Eight. His fabrication abilities were an asset, as parts were sparse and conditions intense. After a decorated career, Lou took an early retirement in 1997 to care for his wife.
After retiring, Lou earned an Associate's Degree in Human Behavior from Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC. He began working as a Behavior Management Technician at a school for children with behavior challenges. To supplement his income, he began to teach himself how to build transmissions, brackets, roll cages and chassis.
In 2005, Lou was given the opportunity to showcase his talents on Spike TV's MuscleCar. Lou was the Host of MuscleCar for 44 episodes chronicling a multitude of car builds and entertaining viewers with his charismatic personality. In 2009, Lou joined the Discovery Channel as a host for Ultimate Car Build-Off.
Lou can also be found on GarageInsiderTV.com. It is an online resource for car enthusiasts providing full length episodes of Garage Insider TV, a tech tips page, a forum for discussions, and an online store carrying custom fabricated parts by Swanyago Performance.
Lou lives with his wife and three children in North Carolina.