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Detroit ties fuel showdown on ‘Motor City Masters’

Mekeisha Madden Toby
Special to The Detroit News

Do a Web search on Camilo Pardo and you’ll find a prolific body of work that includes everything from splashy paintings of race cars to sensitive sketches of the female form. Perhaps it’s Pardo’s versatility that helped him nab one of two finalists’ spots on truTV’s automotive reality offering, “Motor City Masters.”

Pardo, an artist and designer who lives and works in Detroit — when he’s not competing on reality shows — owns an art gallery not too far from Comerica Park. A former chief designer at Ford, the 51-year-old also taught classes at the city’s renowned College for Creative Studies.

When the season finale of “Motor City Masters” airs Tuesday, Pardo will go up against Bryan Thompson. He’s a Phoenix native and former College for Creative Studies student who has designed and built music video sets for pop star Katy Perry.

The winner will walk away with the $100,000 grand prize, a brand new Camaro Z28 and the opportunity to represent Chevrolet.

The show had been shot in and around Los Angeles, but the season finale was shot in Detroit, and the winner will be crowned at GM headquarters.

In order to claim the victory, both men will have three days to build out an actual, full-size version of the Camaro clay models they made on a previous episode. Journalist Jean Jennings of and formerly Automobile Magazine and German automotive designer Harald Belker will act as judges and mentors, just as they have throughout the freshman show’s entire season. Actress Brooke Burns (“Baywatch”) hosts. Edward Welburn, General Motor’s vice president of global design, also weighs in as a judge and will help select the winner.

“That scale model is purely a sketch,” Welburn says on the last episode. “And as it translates into a full-size model, things change. What was great in the scale model, in full size may be overgrown. Or, it may be so subtle that it disappears. I’m excited about seeing what the finalists come up with.”

The Motor City, meanwhile, holds a special place in Thompson’s heart.

“Detroit is where you go to be a car designer,” Thompson, 39, says in the finale. “It’s a place that made my career possible.”

As for Pardo, he sees coming home as an omen. “I’m back to the Motor City. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be in the challenge,” he says,“but I made it all the way through and I made it all the way back. … Everything has built up to this moment.”

Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based TV critic.

‘Motor City Masters’

10 p.m. Tuesday