Serendipity, intrigue, joy, and some pretty awful circumstances all come together for a story line that's straight out of Hollywood. Strangely believe it? Believe it.
Even if John Lipori's name is not familiar, one of his cars might stick a pin in your memory. We ran his dazzling Millennium Yellow '69 Z/28 on the Aug. '07 cover. He calls this second-gen RS Z28 his original musclecar because it's the one that sucked him into the fray 25 years ago. When he was registering it, the DMV clerk announced that he'd had a car just like the one John was putting into the system. A VIN check confirmed it indeed had belonged to the clerk. Later, the guy even produced photographic documentation, circa 1975.
Crime scene, 1971: Details are better left unwritten. Suffice it to say that the car was used to transport the bodies of two homicide vics that were laid to unrest in an artichoke field. When forensics had finished with the evidential Camaro, they'd neglected to replace some of the dashboard items that were removed during the investigation.
When John bought the Z28 in 1981, everything looked pure, original, and without physical reminder of its dark history. "My wife Raina and I dated in this car," says John, "And to this day, it has never let me down. I was looking for a '69 Z/28 and this one literally fell in my lap. I have been fighting the good fight for second-gen cars ever since."
At this point, nearly 20 years after John bought the Camaro, all the action was taking place in and around the idyllic environs of California's Monterey peninsula. The air is different there, and the social climate is unlike that of the most anywhere else too. Toledo it ain't. Think Beverly Hills with an ocean breeze and homey horticulture.
The reanimation began at Steve DiMercurio Customs (Pacific Grove, California). Stevie D laid into the plot with a complete sheetmetal overhaul, and wouldn't you know it, this thing was originally ordered with a tarpaper roof. D tore it asunder so he could scrub the C-pillars clean. He also got the contract to recreate the interior very much in line with the original trappings.
The subplot, meanwhile, involved the critical Sand City connection. Among other chores, Mike Stacks rehabbed the Muncie close-ratio four-speed at Standard Transmission. Over on Olympia Avenue, the crew at Jerry's Machine shop (owned by Lipori's pop Gerald) did the requisite machine work in preparation for the balancing act and the hop-up/rebuild.
So the '7011/42 was reborn and loved all over again. This would not have been possible, says John, "without Mike and everybody at nastyz28.com, the best second-gen site on the planet." An avid lateral-g lurker, John cranks his car up for the Monterey Bay Vintage Trans-Am Racing Association and plies it at dyno events, autocross gang bangs, and green-flag open track events. Comfort and convenience are therefore secondary.