Gretchen, Coco, KathNiel: The Biggest Celebrities Go to This Guy to Customize Their Cars
In 2013, actress Gretchen Barretto commissioned a group led by car enthusiast John Lopez to customize a full-sized bus and design it like a business class Emirates flight. The result was a styled vehicle that Barretto treated like a mobile home, bringing her to shoots and events, and serving as her state-of-the-art nap space.
Lopez and his team blended functionality and comfort beyond the usual vehicle interior set-up for the project. As a result of Barretto’s strong peer influence, the team started getting inquiries and referrals from celebrities and other famous faces. This helped establish Lopez and his car service company Tuned In Style in the field of vehicle customization. It also helped that Lopez has a considerable technical background and expertise using the latest technology.
John Lopez (back) and his Tuned in Style crew with Coco Martin
Tuned in Style
Team Tuned In Style immediately saw themselves servicing vans of TV and movie personalities like matinee idol Coco Martin, ace TV host Vice Ganda, actress Maja Salvador, and seasoned actor Albert Martinez.
For one, Coco Martin’s Inkas Sentry is a bullet-proof armored personnel carrier equipped with a privacy partition and power seats with leg rest. The air-conditioning works even when the engine’s off, ensuring that the Probinsiyano star can rest during taping breaks.
Interiors of Coco Martin's Inkas Sentry
For their own comfort, Maja Salvador’s Ford Transit has four captain seats, a TV, and ambient lighting, while Vice Ganda’s Volkswagen Crafter, similarly has four captain seats a TV, a partition and, a comfort room.
Celebrity partners Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo also got a Volkswagen Crafter in black for themselves, furnished with a shower and a bed. The in-demand team recently worked with singer Angeline Quinto, actress Ryza Cenon, and actor Christian Bables. It also refurbished Albert Martinez’s Ford E150, flown in from the US.
Kathryn Bernardo's Volkswagen Crafter
“I’m fortunate enough and there must be something in what we do that’s right which kept them coming,” Lopez says. “In my own experience, it's more on the innovation and design. You must keep up with the trend by infusing updated fashion in van interior format, employing a more personalized approach, and customizing designs for clients who want to stand out.”
Tuned In Style's colorful clientele also includes government officials and entrepreneurs.
By Lopez’s observation, no one wants the same design as someone else, so it made his work challenging and more exciting.
Mariel Padilla's Hyundai H350
The Fine Arts graduate has a background in advertising business that dealt with large format printing as well as trade show exhibit construction. But being the son of a car dealer, and a car person with business acumen himself, it was only a matter of time before Lopez would give vehicle customization a try. It worked out big time.
Interestingly, Tuned In Style benefited from the new normal as inquiries came left and right and more frequently compared to before the onset of the pandemic. “Maybe it's because of the limitation in air travel, which prompted them to do road travel both for leisure and business,” Lopez says.
Tuned In Style quickly saw an opportunity in out-of-the-box interior conversion, applying it in mobile casinos, mobile ticketing offices, and promotional vehicles. For their corporate accounts, the company also took in projects from established companies such as PLDT, Max’s Group of Companies, 7-Eleven, and CDO. It has also been customizing food trucks and mobile offices.
Lopez poses with Daniel Padilla
Lopez and a friend with actor JM De Guzman
Part of Tuned In Style’s success can be attributed to how it takes care of its employees. "We have to provide for our employees as added compensation to suffice in their daily needs, as well as follow strict safety protocols for disinfection and swab testing,” Lopez says.
Because of the effects of the pandemic, Tuned In Style does its transactions via virtual meetings while offering services to industries where it fits. It has designed a swab testing van for Maxicare, along with some mobile salons and optical shops. To contribute to the ongoing battle against the pandemic, the company has also initiated the construction of a mobile COVID-testing clinic.
Lopez hopes to expand the business to Visayas and Mindanao, and eventually, overseas
With 32 van customization projects in progress, Tuned In Style is maneuvering to a high gear. It currently has three warehouses and a specially built showroom called Primera Klasse located in Quezon Ave. Lopez says they are also planning to open branches in the Visayas and Mindanao, and, eventually, to other countries in Southeast Asia.
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