OK, gentlemen, how many of you wish you had a woman in your life who cared about cars the way you do? I mean truly care, not tolerate. How many of you have been in a relationship with someone who never really understood the late nights working in the garage and the prepping for a meet, show, or track day, or the need to modify virtually every single part of a car? How many of us have been in a relationship with someone who really made it difficult for us to do what we, as automotive enthusiasts, love? I know a whole lot of men are nodding their heads because they know exactly what I am talking about. If any female enthusiasts are reading this I mean no offense. I know there are exceptions to the rule. The point is, having your partner, your significant other, the person who you love and want to spend time with just as much as you do with cars (hopefully more) love cars and want to work on them just as much you do would be incredible and a dream come true. Well, gentleman (and ladies), dreams really do come true. Gene and Christine Siepka of Chicago are living examples.
The two met while working together in 2001 and found that they had a lot in common. Yet, interestingly enough, cars were not one of them. “At the time we met we really weren’t car people. While we were dating we would do everything together and really became best friends and got into cars together,” Gene says. “It wasn’t until many years later, after we got married and bought a house that we got into doing any modifications to a car,” Christine says. “At that point, it was to our second Maxima, a sixth-gen. We decided to mod the Maxima a bit, mostly bolt-ons, but it was fun working together. After that we picked out our own cars to work on and went from there. Ultimately, we both ended up with Zs.” So here we have two individuals with two separate journeys that end up intertwining quite nicely. Let’s start by taking a look at Gene’s.
On a whim one day in early 2008, Gene attended a local Chicago Z meet. He loved how all the modded 350Zs looked and right then his mind was made up to own one of his own. “I was set on picking up a 350Z, but once the 370Z was released I thought it was an improvement over the 350Z in every way, and I had to have one.” Owning a vehicle is one thing, but building and modding one is another. As all true car heads know, though, it really is only a matter of time before we start making changes to the vehicle. Even for those who may have somehow convinced themselves that they were just going to buy the car to drive it, in the end we all give in. We can’t help it. Owning a great car but fighting the urge to modify it is like fighting off the Borg—resistance is futile—so if Gene had ever thought about just leaving the sporty 370Z stock, that idea went right out the window after he attended a couple of events. “Seeing other badass builds at local shows made me want to have something like that of my own.” Gene clearly has developed good taste and a style all his own. Authentic Powerhouse Amuse Vestito aero adorns the exterior of the chassis as it sits on rarely utilized Work HS203 wheels with a 20-inch diameter. The resulting look is elegant yet aggressive. The aesthetics of the car are complemented by a GTM supercharger kit that Gene and Christine installed together in their garage. “It was done over the course of a three-day weekend. We were a little nervous doing it, but got through it and at the end of it we started up the car and everything worked!” Speaking of Christine, let’s take a look at her journey.
All it took was one glance and Christine was hooked.
The decision to build a first-gen Z hit Christine like a bolt of lightning one day when she happened to be on Speedhunters.com. It was late 2009, and they had just done a feature on Yuta Akaishi’s 240Z. All it took was one glance and Christine was hooked. “My jaw literally dropped when I saw Yuta’s feature and that first picture of his 240Z.” She said right then and there she was going to purchase an S30 chassis, and she set out to do just that. Once she found the chassis she wanted, she began to address some very major issues. “When I got the car, it didn’t have brakes. The brake lines were broken and not a drop of fluid could be found! The brake master cylinder’s seals were bad, so it was pushing fluid into the booster. At that point all three had to be fixed or replaced.” With that fixed, the couple turned to the motor. It is quite common for people to swap in RB26s in these chassis, but it appears that won’t happen in this case. “I love the L28—maybe because I am partially a tradionalist,” Christine says. So the pair is going to keep the L28 powerplant, but they have plans for that, as well. “Our next major task is doing a motor swap in the 280Z. We’ve never torn apart an engine before but are pretty confident we can figure it out,” Gene says. In the meantime, the gorgeous factory lines of the body have been complemented wonderfully with simple yet beautiful accents like the Xenon front air dam, IMSA rear spoiler, and, of course, the fender flares that house beautiful Work CR01 wheels with a -53mm offset.
Here you have a couple who own two black Zs on Work wheels, yet each vehicle stands its ground, and holds its own in style and beauty. The vehicles also speak volumes about Gene and Christine, as individuals and as a couple, by being physical manifestations of their similar yet immensely different tastes as people and builders. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and the photo you see of these two sleek, black, beautiful Zs driving side-by-side says more than I ever could.
Behind the Build
Unix/Linux Systems Admin
Modding cars and learning everything I can about them, attending car shows, and enjoying time with friends and family
“I’ve always loved the Z cars, and I wanted to put my own spin on what a Z could look and perform like.”
2009 Nissan 370Z
Engine GTM supercharger kit; intercooler, piping; Setrab engine oil and supercharger oil coolers; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Denso 600cc injectors; MXP True Dual exhaust; Fast Intentions resonated test pipes; Password:JDM carbon engine compartment covers, cooling plate; custom hood dampers; ARC radiator cap
Suspension KW V3 coilovers; Tanabe Sustec front sway bar, rear sway bar, chassis underbrace; SPC rear camber arms; OEM front strut bar refinished in black chrome
Wheels/Tires Work HS203 wheels (20x9.5 +6mm front; 20x10.5 -12mm rear); Falken FK452 tires (225/35-20 front; 255/35-20 rear); Project KICS R40 lug nuts
Brakes Racing Brake two-piece floating rotors, front and rear; ET500 brake pads, front and rear; GT Motoring Challenge SS brake lines
Exterior Powerhouse Amuse Vestito front bumper, side skirts, rear bumper, wing; front fenders rolled/pulled/bumper tabs shaved; headlight interior housing blacked out with LED light strip
Interior Nardi Challenge 350mm steering wheel; Works Bell hub, Rapfix quick release; Tommy Kaira Hebi Bebi shift knob
Electronics HKS CAMP2; Kenwood DNX7160 head unit; JL Audio XR650-CSi component speakers, 13TW5 subwoofer, HD900/5 amplifier; KnuKonceptz.com wires; Wicked C.A.S spare tire sub enclosure; Beltronics RX65 with BlendMount and Invisicord setup
Gratitude “Shouts and thanks to the Four Star Society Crew in Chicago, thanks to the local Chicago area shops, Touge Factory, Project X, Fizz Autosports, A&L Autobody. Big thanks to Ben at Bulletproof Automotive and Sam at GTM Motorsports.”
Behind the Build
Location Chicago, Illinois
Hobbies Surfing the Web for parts and trying to translate Japanese; hanging out with friends and family
“I fell in love with the styling of the first-gen Z but I wanted to build and style my own, based on what I like.”
1978 Datsun 280Z
Engine L28; MSA air intake, 3-2 TBC header, exhaust; Pallnet fuel rail; Datsun Spirit spark plug wires
Suspension Stance GR+ coilovers; Z Car Customs front and rear camber plates; Techno Toy Tuning front and rear lower control arms, front camber control arms, front toe control arms
Wheels/Tires Work Meister CR01 wheels (15x9 -53mm front; 15x10 -53mm rear); Toyo Proxes T1R tires (205/50-15 front; 225/50-15 rear); McGard spline drive lug nuts
Brakes 280ZX OEM 15/16 master cylinder, OEM 10-inch brake booster, rear disc conversion
Exterior Xenon front air dam; IMSA three-piece spoiler; custom fender flares; antenna, side molding, and side mirrors deleted; added fender mirrors
Interior OEM re-covered 240Z front seats; MSA carpet
Gratitude “Great Lakes Auto Body, Corwell Customs, Touge Factory, Four Star Society, JDMChicago.com, ChicagoZ.com, ClassicZcars.com, HybridZ.org, all of my buddies who hang out to all hours of the night, my family for being so supportive, and last but definitely not least, Gene.”