Interpret John Lipori's Z/28 in several ways. It's a work in progress. It's a repeat offender. It's all good-until the next big lightbulb illuminates his brain. Or that he had his way with a very expensive, coveted piece of history and got away with it. It's sporting a wickedly simple but completely unorthodox front-end treatment that might be some sort of sluice from the tuner nation. Or maybe MTV. Or Trans-Am racing. Editor Henry D asked me, should he leave the light covers on for the cover shot or take 'em off? I say, Henry, yeah, leave 'em on. I don't remember seeing anything like that on a street car. People's eyes gonna hook right on 'em, H.

Here's the first part of the story: "I went to his [the owner] storage to see it," says John, "and found an original Frost Green, paint code 59, with a Midnight Green interior, TR723, with everything there including the smog pump and all the original fittings, clamps, and hoses. The owner had changed the interior to standard black, TR711. I didn't know it then, but it would become part of the plan."

John had done a '7011/42 Z28 and a '70 SS 454 Chevelle, but what he really wanted was a '69 Z, so this car might qualify as serendipity. He's the fleet director at Salinas Valley Ford, and one of the body-shop techs, Greg Lamb, foolishly drove The Coveted Car to work one day. John caught a whiff of it and got on the case immediately. He rang Greg up once a month for a year straight. Greg found the right price.

Contrary to the norm, here's a routine we've been seeing a lot lately: prepping and painting before all else. Adding the heavy components later seems like looking for trouble...and probably finding it. The interior sprouted next, followed by motor and drivetrain.

John's Z/28 is a scoche schizoid. Different disciplines dripping here: Road Race (scary stance, matte-finish wheels, four-speed transmission). Resto (dig that interior). Street Fighter (manual steering, no radio, no air conditioning, no overdrive). This guy's minimalist approach is so much like ours it's creepy. "I would never have a stereo in any of my cars. Open exhaust at full song is all the music I need," John says with a sappy grin on his face, his spirit quickly rising to The Red Zone.