A conversation with: Kombination's Fernando Gallo
Posted on March 04 2018
Broadcaster and DJ Fernando Gallo is the driving force behind Brazil's Kombination. He believes that classic VW events are not only about the cars - but about the cultural lifestyle that runs throughout the whole world.
Cool Flo connected with Fernando on Instagram after seeing so many inspiring VW photos. We wanted to know more about the VW scene in Brazil - so who better to share their inspiring story. But to understand the scene that Fernando has helped build it's important to know a little more about the man himself first. Over to you Fernando…
My name is Fernando Gallo, I was born in 1983, and I live in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, southern Brazil. I'm a broadcaster and DJ, and like the traditional trades of our times, I inherited both professions from my family. My grandfather was a broadcaster and my father was a DJ. I grew up around music, and I was influenced by the culture of the 70's and 80's years, when my father was young. Being the eldest son of the four siblings I ended up living very close to adults and can't really talk about myself without talking about my father.
Marcos (my Father) was born in 1959 and, having a very strong passion for music, developed an outstanding musical taste musical taste, becoming a famous DJ in our state. At that time his equipment was sturdy and difficult to transport, and that's why he chose the 1974 Kombi finished in blue caiçara as his work and leisure car. When my siblings were born, however, my father opted for a daily routine and got rid of the Kombi, but never of his profession as a DJ.
So, since I was a child, I always accompanied him to the parties he played, even when he used to make K7 tape recordings for other DJs. It was in those very recordings that I started to have real contact with music, and where I discovered the passion that inspired me to become a DJ.
In 1993, I had my big moment. He let me take over the sound table for the first time. From then on, I started to play more and more, and was always looking to improve my DJ skills. At 15 I started to play professionally, and after that I started working on the radio as well - always keeping myself in the middle of music while maintaining financial stability.
It's this passion, transmitted from father to son, that generated 'Kombination' - a combination of music, VW kombi and vintage culture. I believe that everyone identifies with our lifestyle, having a natural link to the music we play through the different genres, restoring VWs and always being on the road. Kombination is renowned throughout Brazil, being present at all of the biggest and best events throughout the country.
Another factor that lead to Kombination becoming well known was in the way we promoted our own events, which we based on vintage culture, encompassing art tattoo, graffiti, classic cars, Kombis, and VWs along with entertainment including music, cinema and vintage games.
Can you remember how you discovered a love for VW?
Yes! As a child the first word I said was "car" and from then on, I always had love for them. I learned to drive in a Volkswagen Passat TS 79 'and I conquered my first automobile at 17 years of age which was also a Passat, but an LSE 86'. The VW brand caught my attention because they were reliable, had simple maintenance, were robust, and good value for your money. All this set me up to choose a Volkswagen every time. Several times I swapped the car but never ever the brand.
At first, I had no idea at all about the love for these classics. In fact, it was when I helped my father to get a Luxury Kombi 70 (T1 Deluxe), and it was with this Bus that we started to attend some meetings of old cars and VWs. Getting involved more and more in this world started to mould my whole lifestyle.
Your slogan 'Good Times, Good Vibes' seems a perfect fit for the air-cooled lifestyle. Can you expand on the idea?
It was an idea that I had reflecting on everything that was going on in my life and The Kombination at that time. The "Good Times" refers to preserving this vintage culture and passing it on. "Good Vibes" refers to the presence of the cheerful, friendly and attached spirit that the Kombi brings - not to mention the music, always present in a relaxed and good way, sending good memories and vibes to everyone.
How and when did you become a fan of all things Volkswagen?
When I joined the air-cooled world in 2003. I found a Luxury kombi for sale and I told my father about it. Fortunately we were able to buy it, and it served as a great support when entering deeper into the VW world. Of course we already loved these vehicles, but once you own one you never look back. Since then we have owned many VWs imported from abroad, including a Luxury 1970 that is now in Japan with another German 1957 that we had. In 2010 I built my first Callook Style bug, a 69 model. Later my dad and I were able to purchase a 75 Kombi 6 door, which my Dad kept while offering me the Panel Van to work on.
When I got the Panel van, I sold the Beetle to fund the modifications on it. At the time few people had cars like that in Brazil and I was one of the first to have a bus on a very cool level, influencing others to build their projects. From then on, my fanaticism only increased with these vehicles of enormous charisma, and by the friendships that they provided me with every meeting.
How would you describe the current VW scene in Brazil?
The scene in Brazil is still growing. With every year that passes, better projects arise and this makes me very happy. However, there was an issue in the early years in the supply of spare parts and professionals to do bodywork, and the finishing by skilled labour. This made it difficult to carry out any restorations. Only by importing parts and getting to know good professionals can you expect a well completed project. The great boom of the current scene in Brazil started in 2008, when the internet took over and purchases from overseas became easier for the parts - and then the skilled labour was made possible, producing the Calstyle, Ratlook and German Look vehicles.
At the time these styles caught the attention of the younger generation, who started to buy cars to customise. Today in our country we have several well executed projects, but the majority still don't have enough knowledge to carry the customising out correctly, instead making the car the way they think might be right.
This is a reflection of the social media 'boom'. It's made the world a smaller place and influenced what people see. They then think that it is easy to keep an original or customized car safe.
The people who attend the events are well united: everyone tries to help, and the mood is so fantastic. I should say the scene in the country is stronger in the southeast and south, where the concentration of air-cooled rides is higher than other parts, and where you can see many people using air-cooled vehicles on a day to day basis.
What vehicles are you currently running?
I'm finishing the restoration of a Passat GTS 83. I bought it because it has great sentimental value: I learned to drive in one and so it was also my first car. What's more, it was made the year I was born. It brings many good memories of my childhood and adolescence. I believe that by June it will be ready. It's in the final stage of painting at the moment. This is my first Eurolook project and I'm really excited to see the outcome.
I also recently completed the restoration of a Karmann Mobil Safari 89. It is a car made on the platform of the Kombi by Karmann Ghia of Brazil. It was the only motorcar made in series in Brazil. In this project I sought originality and improvements like restored wheels, a bit of paint, door lining and made some modifications on the mechanical part such as an external oil cooler with fan, pressurised dampers and extra springs at the rear to make it safe on the go.
I've also run a German look project on a Carat 98 'Kombi that looks really cool. I mustn't forget to mention the original design 1975 Kombi 6 door we have: it was only manufactured in Brazil, and with an immaculate original interior too. We acquired it from the first original owner, someone who kept it until 2010 in great condition. We made some sympathetic improvements to the paint and some points of rust, but we don't intend to change the original look and rarity of the vehicle.
The day I originally was in contact with you at Cool Flo, I was in the middle of purchasing another Kombi. This one is a STD 81 that I intend to build into a ratlook camper.
Lastly, I must mention Jabiraca (the name of my love, almost all kombi's in Brazil have a name) Calstyle project Panel Van 74 'BR / 63' German, which today is my work car. With her I travel to several cities in Brazil to show the vibe of Kombination through the music and lifestyle I lead.
Have you ever sold a bus or camper that you have later regretted selling?
For sure! We have already sold a very original 1957 German van that I regret. Today she is in Japan along with the Luxury Kombi 1970 that started and influenced all that I live for today. These two Kombi I regret to have sold. But on the other hand, I am very happy and proud with the ones that we have today.
Do you have any travels planned for this year?
I have many trips planned. I intend to know more about the air-cooled culture in Europe, the United States and Japan but due to my financial situation this will still take a little more time.
In March and April, I will start traveling almost every weekend to work with my Panel van Kombi 'Jabiraca', mostly in small distances. The longest trip confirmed so far is for Rio de Janeiro in May. This one is my most awaited trips this year, as I leave my city in the south of the country and travel nearly 3,000km to one of the most important air-cooled meetings in Latin America.
Along the way, I'll link up with some friends from other states and the trip will become even more fun. I feel really good when I'm on the road traveling with my VW. I can feel that my heart beats strong at this time. I like the air of nostalgia with simplicity, friends, VWs, lush landscapes and even some little troubles. This brings me new experiences and encourages other lovers to get some adventure as well.
Brazil looks like a beautiful place to live. Can you describe the ultimate Brazilian road trip that would take in some must-see sights?
Brazil is too big to see all of the sights! It is difficult to choose a place because here we have a lot of nature preserved. Our coastline is beautiful with clear seawater and sun most of the year. We also have mountains, semi-arid regions and beautiful plateaus. If I had to choose, It would be the place where I live - the beautiful Santa Catarina. It has several cities of Germanic and Italian origin to visit, in addition to the world-famous beaches. The city where I live has a little bit of the California way of life. Here we even have a bridge similar to that of San Francisco, but on a much smaller scale.
The southeast and south are a bit better for traveling because of the more preserved highways, but you will still find uneven floors and poor signage, making it hard to drive lowered cars.
We know music plays a big part in your life. What are your listening to right now?
I love music, and for me it all started with electronic. But today I'm enjoying old-school like funk / soul, blues, jazz, rock n' roll, rock new wave, reggae, disco and also modern styles where these rhythms merge with electronic music. They are the styles that fit the lifestyle of people who enjoy old cars and who somehow want to remember the good times of the past in a new version. It's incredible when you can change the mood of people whilst playing a really good song - this is the point where a good DJ buzzes from making right choice!
What VW events are you most looking forward to in 2018 and why?
We have several traditional events in Brazil that are expected in 2018. VDablio Racing, where there is air-cooled racing that takes place in Rio de Janeiro with an amazing view and a Californian vibe. Another event that cannot be missed is Volksfriends - that takes place in December at Pomerode, the most German city in Brazil. There are several cool projects that appear every year. I must mention the camping, these are still-closed events to some VW groups. There is the Bubble Gun Treffen which is the largest VAG culture meet. This is my most anticipated event, where I want to present my Eurolook Passat GTS project.
Kombination events include The Chillin' which takes place annually in early July in a 1950s mansion. In addition to bringing cars together, it encompasses the culture of the '70s and '80s with entertainment and art.
This year we decided to make a camp open to sympathisers of the movement. It will dominate this simple lifestyle with luau, bonfire and games. Chillin' happens every two years due to its complexity. When I start to think about the Kombination event I feel the butterflies coming in my stomach, but my mood shares the feeling of a little peace and nervousness too, and I like that.
Finally, if you had the chance to own any air-cooled vehicle, what would you choose and why?
This is an easy question for a Kombi Fan. I would choose a Kombi barndoor, preferably a panel van because it brings me much more joy with its simplicity and also for being the precursor of it all. I guess you know very well what I'm talking about!