Drop the top, turn on the tunes, and nail the throttle. It's a California automotive lifestyle that's echoed nationwide. For many, this tradition is realized in some sort of new, store-bought, or blister-packed showroom convertible that's been convincingly marketed as what-to-like, the latest rage, or the new cool. But for a select group of real car guys, a car clearly demonstrating a true wow-factor is uniquely created with a subtle and intentional theme-and is never mass-produced. Essentially, these works of art are transformed from a select group of vintage musclecars with a variety of pasts. The short list of available automotive core candidates numbers cars that have suffered misguided restorations, models priced past the stratosphere in lackluster condition, and a few good examples at reasonable prices. Consequently, successfully finding the right car to transform is challenging and calendar-consuming and requires optimistic open-mindedness.

Five years ago, Lane Ochi decided to compose his own style of musclecar that would be fun to drive, handle like a slot car, and accelerate at heart-stopping speed. His prerequisites were an early-Camaro body style, minimal rust, reasonable condition, and most of all, a convertible top. To fulfill his search he asked many who visited his Beverly Hills dental office during the day and spent his weekends looking throughout the state for serious leads. Three years elapsed and Lane still couldn't find the right car to begin. One day, an office repairman who'd told him of a '68 Camaro at the beginning of his search asked if he had ever found the Camaro he wanted. Ochi explained, "No, I've searched everywhere and have found nothing." The repairman replied frankly, "You never went to look at my friend's '68 Camaro and it's still for sale." With not many leads left, Lane agreed and went out to survey the car. He couldn't believe what he saw. The convertible Camaro was in really good shape, had a healthy 327, and was easily worth the price. He immediately bought the car and thanked the seller-and the office repairman for changing his frame of mind.

With his new treasure back at home, Lane decided to give it a glistening but understated outward hue. So he trans-ported the car to the guys at Boyd's Paint and Body, where they stripped the sheetmetal bare and applied generous coats of PPG silver paint. Over the shining silver they added Z28-style stripes in gloss black. With the paint finished, he turned his attention inside, where he added new houndstooth material to the original seats for comfort and a killer stereo system for listening enjoyment.