Lou Santiago was born in Bronx, New York to Raul and Lily Santiago. His family later relocated to Hempstead, (Long Island) New York where he graduated from Uniondale High School. While attending Uniondale, Lou earned a two-year Trade Certificate in Diesel Mechanics from the Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES). Lou's love of car building began with the help of his life-long friend, Wayne Swanson and his 1968 Dodge Dart.

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 Associates Degree in Human Behavior from Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Muscle Car. Lou was the Host of Muscle Car 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. In addition, he has been the Guest Host of Hot Rod Magazine TV, Extreme 4x4, Horsepower and V8TV.com. Lou has also been interviewed for numerous industry magazine and radio programs. Lou has been named as one of the five best car builders and master fabricators in the country!