The Truth About Fast N’ Loud and the Gas Monkey Garage

One of the most popular car-related reality TV shows of all time is Fast N’ Loud. The show follows Richard Rawlings and his team building amazing vehicles at the Gas Monkey Garage. The talented crew focuses on remodeling different cars, fixing them, and transforming them from duds to sellable beasts. But like all reality television shows, there is plenty of drama… both real and scripted.

The Gas Monkey Garage Crew / Aaron Kaufman / Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman / Three “Monkey” mechanics.
Source: Facebook

Of course, they need the entertainment factor to keep viewers tuned in, but that doesn’t mean everything we see is real. Between people quitting, getting fired, and one crew member who “acted like a child,” there is a lot to unpack here. The truth may surprise you, but today we are taking a look at the behind-the-scenes secrets of Fast N’ Loud.

Aaron Kaufman’s Creative Issues

Aaron Kaufman was always seen as the main creative force behind the Fast N’ Loud gang, transforming some of the most terrible cars into amazing, sellable rides. That’s why fans weren’t happy when he left the show. But as it turns out, there were a lot of personal and professional reasons for his departure.

Aaron Kaufman is leaning on the hood of an old car.
Source: Pinterest

He felt as though the format of the television show was hindering his productivity. He explained that he wanted to build much bigger cars. In Kauffman’s opinion, the show needed cars that were a lot smaller, and there were clear creative issues that also contributed to his reasoning for leaving the show.

Beef With Jesse James

Jesse James is widely regarded as a controversial figure, but Richard Rawling’s wasn’t exactly an angel either. There have been plenty of stories circulating about him too, which is why it may not shock you to find out that they had a big fallout.

A photo of Jesse James / A photo of Richard Rawling
Source: Twitter / Facebook

From the start of Fast N’ Loud, a few issues arose between the two men; each thought that there wasn’t room for two of them in this game. Neither of them wanted to share the spotlight. James and Rawlings both went on record saying ridiculous things about each other… Unfortunately, neither of them came out looking great…

The Lamborghini Miura

Throughout the show’s run, Richard Rawlings made several fantastic purchases, finding remarkable cars or flipping some total duds into very impressive vehicles. But there was one particular car that Rawlings was dying to get his hands on. The reality star made it very clear that he wanted a Lamborghini Miura, but he failed in all his attempts to buy one.

A red Lamborghini Miura parked in the driveway.
Source: Reddit

Rawlings has been bothering one specific owner in Florida, pushing him to sell every year, but it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon. With only 764 in existence, I can definitely see why he wants one… but it’s probably going to be way easier than he initially thought.

Fast N’ Loud Spin-Offs

Nowadays, there is no real surprise when you find a spin-off of your favorite show. TV networks want to make as much money as they possibly can, so what better way to bring in audiences than a premise that viewers already love? Fast N’ Loud is no different, and Richard Rawlings got the chance to appear in several of the spin-offs, including Demolition Theater, Garage Rehab, and Misfit Garage.

Richard Rawlings, Russell J. Holmes, and Chris Stephens from ‘Garage Rehab’.
Richard Rawlings, Russell J. Holmes and Chris Stephens. Source: Facebook

Although these shows weren’t as popular as Fast N’ Loud, Rawlings still found success. There are always rumors flying about how many of the show’s former stars would create their own spin-off, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Technical Difficulties

If you keep up with Fast N’ Loud, you definitely remember the major troubles they got into with specific cars. A huge part of that was the computer systems that were on the engine and wouldn’t allow the car to start. Obviously, this was a frustrating issue for the team; so, they brought in a crew from the electronics company Diablosport, and they seemed to fix everything incredibly quickly.

A man sitting in the driver's seat of a car is working on a computer attached to the engine.
Source: Tumblr

Well, the reality of the situation was that the tech team had to dismantle the entire computer and write an entirely new code to trick it into ignoring the modules that were missing… It took hours!

Sneaky, Sneaky…

The idea that the guys in the Gas Monkey Garage have to go from one car to the next in order to survive is absolutely ridiculous and possibly the biggest lie they tell you regularly on the show. The truth: the Gas Monkey Garage has 40 or 50 cars at a time, and while some are in extremely bad shape, others have recently been flipped.

Flipped fancy-looking cars parked outside the Gas Monkey Garage.
Source: Facebook

The truth is, there isn’t really a shortage of vehicles. Rawlings and his team are able to choose a different car every day and still have some unused ones left in the garage, even though that’s a far stretch from how it’s portrayed on TV.

The “Prototype” Firebird

Most Fast N’ Loud fans remember the episode featuring two “original” Pontiac Firebirds. The team “randomly” stumbled upon them, and the show claimed that their values were $325,000. The team supposedly got lucky when they randomly found them in a barn… but obviously, that didn’t actually happen because that would be ridiculous.

Two fully restored Pontiac Firebirds in the garage.
Source: Pinterest

In reality, the cars were not prototypes at all. In fact, they were stranded, consumer-model vehicles that were made specifically to be sent to the show. However, that doesn’t sound as juicy and as entertaining as the truth.

Bizarre Commercials

Richard Rawlings has made most of his wealth from working with cars – on the reality show or away from the cameras. However, that’s not the only way he’s been raking in the cash. When he first started gaining fame and notoriety, other outside offers came knocking, including some commercial work.

Rawlings is in his car eating a donut with a monkey eating and sitting in the passenger seat.
Source: Reddit

While you can’t blame him for trying to make a few extra bucks, the commercial featuring the infamous monkey is absolutely terrible. The concept is: Rawlings and the monkey working as allies, enforcing the Dodge Law, with the brand being exclusively for “real men,” portraying them as frisk motorists getting tested for a variety of situations. You seriously have to see this one to believe it.

It Started as a Teeny, Tiny Shop

When you think about how successful the Gas Monkey Garage is, it may be hard to believe that it started off as a tiny, little shop that was about 1,200 feet with no air conditioning or running water. The crazy idea came from Rawlings, who was hoping for a reality show, starring himself, that could be focused on a hot-rod shop that didn’t even exist at the time, which is why they made the small shop.

Two open garage doors at the Gas Monkey Garage.
Source: Facebook

Gas Monkey Garage eventually opened and quickly gained a wonderful reputation. They eventually decided to travel around the country to make the reality show happen, and it worked, considering Discovery created Fast N’ Loud.

Insane Work Schedule

When audiences sit down and binge-watch the show, it may appear like everything is being done quickly and is a lot of fun; car-lovers think it’s a dream job. But it takes a ton of hard work and dedication. In interviews, the crew talks about how much time and effort they have to put into filming… and it’s pretty crazy.

The crew is working in the garage on a car.
Source: Flickr

The group admittedly spend about 120 hours a week inside the garage. This insane amount of work is at least double – maybe even triple – the amount us regular folk work. At least they are doing what they love, and the hefty paycheck probably makes it all worth it.

Beating Roadkill

We spoke about the infamous car electrical issue and how it caused a lot of problems behind the scenes. It was also played down on television to make the crew look even more skilled, but the entire ordeal was stressful for everyone involved. Reportedly, the boys were put up to the challenge by the hosts of Roadkill.

The car made by the Gas Monkey Garage racing down the street.
Source: Reddit

That’s why the team worked so hard off camera to make sure it all worked perfectly. Ultimately, the Fast N’ Loud crew beat the Roadkill team on an eight-mile stretch. Although it wasn’t a long race, it was a memorable one for the Gas Monkey boys.

Gas Monkey Energy

Given everything he’s accomplished in life, whether it’s reality television or following his car passion, you wouldn’t think that his biggest success story is a product called Gas Monkey Energy. For whatever reason, Rawlings decided to launch an energy brand called Gas Monkey Energy, and even he had no idea how successful this product would actually become.

Rawlings is holding up a can of his energy drink.
Source: Reddit

He even landed a contract with the military to sell the product in every soldier base, which was a big win for him. There were also numerous sponsorship deals that also helped push the energy drink to the top of the shelves!

Jordan Butler’s Special Rules

Jordan Butler is often considered the most interesting member of the Gas Monkey Garage team during his time there. Oftentimes, that meant that he was also one of the most annoying people in the garage. The rest of the crew frequently referred to Jordan as a big kid, which is, in their opinion, why he was so difficult to deal with.

Tom Smith is sitting as he plays with his goatee.
Source: Twitter

This led the rest of the team to create specific ways to deal with Butler. His co-workers had to literally implement special rules whenever he would act like a child in order to keep everyone else sane.

Jordan Butler’s Time Out

Speaking of Jordan Butler, one of the most surprising moments for viewers was when he was fired from Fast N’ Loud with no real explanation of what went down. Smith was simply in one episode and not the next, leaving fans confused.

Tom Smith is leaning on a car in the shop looking rather annoyed.
Source: Facebook

As we know, Jordan Butler isn’t the easiest person to work with, according to his co-workers. He needed to be treated like a child because he would act out and cause tension. In the end, Rawlings finally had enough and thought it would be better for everyone if Smith left the garage.

Studios Didn’t Even Want Rawlings

Although it was Rawlings’s decision that the garage would be better off without Jordan Butler, it was pretty much decided that the garage would have been better off without Rawlings. The original studio didn’t want him at all.

Rawlings is pointing directly into the camera on the set of ‘Fast N’ Loud’.
Source: Twitter

Rawlings knew that the show and its premise would be a massive hit among car-lovers and reality TV fans, but the network didn’t feel the same way. It took eight years of pitching to get the green light. Discovery Channel’s Craig Coffman later admitted that it was Rawling’s persistence that forced him to crack. It was ultimately the right decision.

The Truth About the Mustang

As wild and exciting as it all looks on screen, it’s not all fun and games. Sadly, the Mustang incident was one of those not-so-fun experiences, even though the camera never captured what actually happened. But the aftermath was documented, with the entire crew running down the street, shocked to see Jordan Butler with a prized Mustang jammed at the front after just being rebuilt.

The damaged front of the restored Mustang.
Source: Tumblr

Rawlings didn’t hold back and blamed the driver for hitting the Mustang after running a red light. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but still, it was clear that everyone was furious over the entire thing, and many true colors were shown.

A Much Bigger Crew

You get used to seeing the same familiar faces on screen, but the size of the crew is much more significant than what is portrayed on Fast N’ Loud. The Gas Monkey Garage has at least ten people inside at a time. We only see the main personalities on the show, and those are obviously the ones who rose to fame, but there are plenty of hard workers putting time and effort behind the scenes to turns cars as quickly, amazingly, and efficiently as possible.

The extended crew of the Gas Monkey Garage posing for a group photo.

Unfortunately, these guys don’t get the TV money – those reality show paychecks only go to the stars… which makes sense. But it sucks considering the insane hours they work so that the show can run as smoothly as it does.

Rawlings Carries Around Thousands in Cash

You would think that the last thing a famous person would do is walk around with wads of cash in their pocket and brag about it. I mean, that’s one way to get robbed. For some reason, Richard Rawlings doesn’t worry about that. When he was learning the ropes in his dad’s garage, someone gave Rawlings a piece of advice.

Rawlings is holding up a large wad of cash.
Source: Twitter

He was told how you could buy a $20,000 car for as little as $5,000, as long as the deal was made in cash and on the spot. From that moment on, Rawlings has always had a large amount of cash on hand so that if there is an opportunity, he can make a deal. It still sounds pretty dangerous to me.

Car Deals Are Staged

Most diehard fans probably know this already, but apparently, “random” buying of cars that you see on the show may not be as random as you think. Sure, it may look like Richard is talking to a buyer for the very first time, but the truth of the matter is that the deals were sorted out way before the cameras start rolling.

Rawlings is negotiating with a buyer over a car.
Source: Reddit

The scenes are scripted for the sake of entertainment. Most viewers are aware of the scripted element, which is not uncommon when it comes to reality shows. But at the end of the day, if he had to make deals the way we see it on TV, the show probably would have never happened.

Problems and Solutions

Sometimes, the Monkeys run into a little bit of trouble while working on a car, but they always manage to fix it in no time. Or, at least, that is what they show us on TV. As it turns out, the problems were often way worse than what we saw. One example was the car they built for the Roadkill challenge.

Aaron Kaufman is working on the car used in the race against Roadkill.
Source: Tumblr

The team built at least two transmissions and a number of torque converters from scratch. Plus, they recoded and modified the entire engine system. It looked like the incredible work took just one night, but, in reality, it took much longer.

Scripted or Unscripted?

This may come as a huge shock, but as it turns out, “reality” television isn’t as real as you may think. In fact, they hire just as many scriptwriters as many TV dramas or sitcoms. Fast N’ Loud is no exception, especially when it comes to the team.

Kaufman, Rawlings, and another “Monkey” are working on a pink vintage car.
Source: Discover

The chemistry of the Gas Monkey crew has definitely been a crucial part of the show’s success, but the fights between them have become increasingly scripted over the years. Sure, the team is full of real people, but the Fast N’ Loud drama is just as fake as any other reality show.

K.I.T.T. Car

One of Richard’s pals really wanted a Knight Rider replica for his birthday and was willing to pay extra just to have David Hasselhoff show up in person. The total bill? $200,000. However, Richard made a little mistake when he confessed that he could have done all that for just $25,000.

The dashboard inside the Knight Rider replica made by Gas Monkey Garage.
Source: Twitter

The focus of the episode was Rawlings “chasing” the Hoff around Europe in the most scripted episode of Fast N’ Loud ever. Neither the K.I.T.T. car build nor the search for the Hoff made any sense at all.

Richard Wasn’t Surprised When Aaron Left

Aaron Kaufman’s departure from the show was a major blow to fans. In 2017, the reality star decided to take time off and do his own thing. On the show, we can see him break the news to Richard, who is completely shocked and pretty much begs Kaufman to stay.

Kaufman is sitting in the garage.
Source: Facebook

As you might have guessed, that wasn’t exactly the way things went down. That entire conversation was staged and totally fake. Richard was fully aware of what was going on. In fact, rumors of Aaron’s exit were already circulating before the episode was even filmed.

Peace Out, Tom and Jordan

We mentioned Jordan Butler and how difficult he was to work with, but he wasn’t the only one who left the show. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the reason Jordan Butler and Tom Smith were fired from Gas Monkey Garage and the show.

Jordan Butler is resting on the hood of a car with Tom smith and others standing around.
Source: Facebook

Some rumors say that the whole thing was planned. As it turns out, Richard is the executive producer of the show’s spin-off, Misfit Garage, where the two of them would later appear. The official explanation that was given was that a fan wanted a picture next to Rawlings’ Rolls-Royce, and the two men were fired for allowing it.

The Misfit Garage Rivalry

Spin-offs have been incredibly successful in recent years. It only makes sense that a network would use a concept that they already know works and create a whole different show with it. Since Fast N’ Loud was so popular, they created Misfit Garage.

Tom Smith’ Jordan Butler and Thomas Weeks are posing in front of the Fired Up Garage
Source: Discovery

The show makes Richard Rawlings the villain who is regularly undermining the team at Fired Up Garage, and oftentimes they challenge them to see who can do the better deals. What the shows make sure viewers don’t know is that Rawlings happens to be the landlord for Fired Up Garage (as well as a producer on Misfit Garage).

Sold Cars Showing Up in the Background

This could be a recurring mistake or perhaps proof of how fake and scripted the show actually is. If you tune in to Fast N’ Loud, you see the crew sit down and talk to us about whatever drama is going on in the current episode.

Rawlings is doing an interview clip with a car in the background.
Source: Twitter

But during these little interviews, if you pay attention, you will see cars in the background…. Which makes sense considering they work in a garage. However, if you take a closer look, there have been several instances where you see cars that have already been sold a few episodes ago.

Firebird Prototypes

Rawlings claimed that he discovered a Holy Grail of the automotive world: Pontiac Firebirds used as “proof of concept.” According to Rawlings, each one was worth about $325,000, and the value would only go up once they were cleaned up.

The Firebirds parked outside the barn they were “found in”.
Source: Facebook

Well, that wasn’t exactly the case… at all. It turns out that both cars were sold on eBay for $30,000 a year earlier, and they were stored in the barn, not abandoned like they made it seem. Why make claims like this when viewers can just Google the truth?

Transforming a Ford Fairmont Into a Drift Car

Believe it or not, this chromed-out 1978 Ford Fairmont used to be a humble family car before it was transformed into a drift machine. It had the 5.0-liter V8 heart of a 1987 Ford Mustang. But that wasn’t all; it also had a five-speed manual transmission, a heavily upgraded suspension setup, and a stripped-out racecar-style interior.

The upcycled Ford Fairmont made by Gas Monkey.
Source: Reddit

So, what you’re probably wondering is, what the heck is wrong with it? Well, mostly the fact that it was a chromed Fairmont. Richard Rawlings ended up putting a total of $40,000 into that car, but guess how much he sold it for? A mere $16,549.

Work Hard, Play Harder

The show really makes it look like the Monkeys work non-stop on a single car until the job is perfectly done. Viewers assume that the guys have such tight time crunches that they barely sleep just so that they can get their work done.

The crew of ‘Fast N’ Loud’ discussing a new car they found.
Source: Pinterest

Surprise, surprise, but that wasn’t actually the case. The reality of the situation was much different. A lot of the “reality” of Fast N’ Loud is edited in a way to make it look like a couple of weeks of work was completed in just a fraction of the time.

Adding More Drama

Have you ever noticed that something always goes wrong at the absolute worst possible time? Like, right before the made-up deadline, something doesn’t go right and sets the whole project back. Well, it’s no accident. Obviously, they are trying to stir up drama.

The Crew of Gas Monkey are examining a restored Ferrari.
Source: Facebook

I mean, at the end of the day, everything falls perfectly into place. They manage to pull it off right on time, not a second to spare. Yeah, that makes total sense. Especially since it happens on every episode. However, we can’t blame them; drama is a crucial part of reality TV.

A Bigger Work Team

Discovery loves to create shows based on a handful of people working in the shop doing cool, interesting jobs. It makes sense, considering audiences want to watch reality shows that they can relate to. However, the support crew for the show is massive… way bigger than you would expect.

The crew and workers of Gas Monkey Garage are posing for a group picture in front of the sign.
Source: Twitter

If you pay attention to the credits, in each and every episode, you’ll see “support staff” credited. These are the guys who do most of the actual work that the Monkeys get credit for. We know they will do what they can to create an entertaining show, so it’s not too shocking.

Park Ranger Dreams

If you watch Fast N’ Loud, chances are you already know that the talented Aaron Kaufman customized his very first car when he was just sixteen years old. Since his family didn’t have that much money, he couldn’t afford a “project car” on the side. Instead, he made many modifications to his Keep Grand Cherokee to make it run the way he wanted it to.

Kaufman is standing in front of a car on the side of the road with a popped hood.
Source: Flickr

But Kaufman never thought about becoming a reality star or even a mechanic – despite his passion for machines. His real childhood dream was to become a park ranger! He loves it because it gives him the opportunity to go off-roading and be around wildlife and nature.

From Humble Beginnings

Aaron Kaufman came from humble beginnings. He watched his family work extremely hard for everything they have, and he learned to do the same. Perhaps this explains his strength, determination, and work ethic. He loved getting down and dirty since he customized his first car as a teenager.

Kaufman is working on a car under the hood.
Source: Facebook

Kaufman revealed that the reason he quit Monkey Garage was because he was so used to working at his own pace and suddenly had to speed it up. The time crunch didn’t allow him to work the way he wanted to. Plus, he was also looking to pursue other interests, but he wasn’t able to because of the tight filming schedule.

Money, Money, Money

If you follow the show, you certainly remember his 1963 Ford Falcon race car, which participated in Pikes Peak 2016. He finally put it up on eBay in 2017 and eventually let it go for $65,000. This incredible ride is equipped with a 363 ci V8 engine that’s able to churn out 500 horsepower.

Kaufman and Rawlings are working.
Source: Facebook

Thanks to his talent, hard work, and a successful television show, Aaron Kaufman is now worth a pretty hefty $6 million. For each episode, the skilled mechanic raked in a paycheck of $50,000. His charm, personality, and creativity earned him a nice fortune in this venture, but we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Reality Television Star

When you watch Aaron Kaufman on screen, he truly seems like a natural. It seems like standing in front of the camera, and entertaining audiences is a raw passion of his, but that’s not necessarily the case. Kaufman didn’t have big TV dreams.

Kaufman and Rawlings are posing in front of Gas Monkey Garage.
Source: Reddit

In fact, it wasn’t even something he thought about. He was honestly just excited about learning as much as he could about building cars and gaining experience to make him the amazing mechanic that he is today. The whole TV thing just sort of happened along the way.

Kaufman Is a Workaholic

After leaving the set of Fast N’ Loud, Aaron Kaufman thought camera life was behind him, and he had no plans to return to television. However, an executive from Discovery managed to convince him after a long six-hour dinner. Kaufman changed his mind because he was told that he would get his own show and could run it however he wanted.

Kaufman is working in the garage.
Source: Facebook

Kaufman was once admitted to the hospital and required emergency surgery. He stopped filming for a mere three days before getting back on the screen. He definitely could have taken a longer recovery break, but it shows you how determined Kaufman is and how strong his work ethic is.

Working With His Bestie

Aaron Kaufman had a lot of responsibility at the Gas Monkey Garage. He was tasked with building 12 cars in just 24 weeks, but he was determined to make it happen. It led to long and exhausting 110-hour work weeks, which is insane. Sadly, this was the beginning of the end for Kaufman on the reality show.

Kaufman and Arclight are taking a selfie.
Source: Facebook

Aaron Kaufman is good buddies with Arclight, one of the best mechanics at Gas Monkey Garage. The two have been close friends since high school and even went to college together initially. They both ended up dropping out to pursue their car passion.

Learning From Experience

As we just mentioned, Aaron Kaufman actually did attend college instead of a specialized school where he could focus on becoming a mechanic. He got his passion for cars from his father since he was a young boy. He always loved machines in general, so he taught himself as he went along, with trial and error.

Kaufman is leaning on a car parked on a dirt road.
Source: Facebook

Since he was so fascinated with machines, as soon as the kids around the neighborhood started riding bikes, he would take them apart and reassemble them. These early interests turned into crazy projects in the future. It’s like he was born to be a mechanic.