First, the fun part:
So, a bassist buddy of mine has been on a guitar buying kick lately of absurd proportions, and he snagged this lately. He wasn't happy with how it played so he left it at my place for a week to try to dial in for him, and after getting it where it felt right I was having enough fun jamming on it that I did a quick blues improv with it.
I'll start by saying I actually really liked this guitar and that it was very well built and well finished, and clearly sounded phenomenal. I'm about to go on a vent pointing out all the things I don't like about it, but they're basically just the vintage specs, so I'll say this - if you want a period correct Strat, these things are awesome.
That said - I REALLY don't understand why someone would want a totally-authentic period spec Strat in this day and age. This thing has a 7" (!!!) radius neck with vintage (read: microscopic) fretwire, so low shred-worthy action was out of the question because notes just choke to death when you try to bend them. As it happened the notes also just bloom nicely with a slightly higher setup (and I ended up raising the action on my own Strat, a '97 American, after working on this one) so it worked out for a bluesier style guitar, but a flatter or compound radius neck with larger frets is something that Fender has moved to on recent guitars for a reason. Also, I lucked out when I eyeballed the truss rod when going from 10-52 to 10-48, which is a good thing because the truss rod is in the neck pocket so you have to remove the neck to adjust it. Why you'd intentionally revert to this spec is beyond me... especially on a guitar with vintage style tuners where you need to thread the string down the center of the machine and then bend it over, rather than contemporary designs that run through the peg. This just made me uneasy stringing it up, though this at least was starting to win me over as they seemed well made, fairly secure, and the guitar held tune well (it helped that the nut was VERY well cut) so I was gaining confidence with them, and you also din't have to worry about stabbing yourself on the string ends.
The pickups (a 57/62 reissue set) sounded awesome, but they were exceptionally low output even for vintage singlecoils, and with the stupid vintage stagger that Fender STILL uses, you could only set them so close to the pickups to compensate. Guitarists have used unwound G's on their Strats since the late 60s, this is one of those design holdovers that I'm surprised Fender is still holding onto (since they're doing so much else right these days - compound radius necks, staggered tuning machines, hand rolled edges, routes that accommodate humbuckers right out of the shop, a two-point trem whose only "vintage" concession is in the saddles, not in functionality, larger frets... Really, even with the recent price increases, you get a lot of guitar for your money with a modern Fender). Also, while Fender thankfully shipped these with a 5-way switch and instructions, and while it was an interesting experience trying to stick the switch between positions as I'd read guys used to before the 5-way was introduced, the in-between positions were half of the appeal of a Strat to me, so I immediately missed it. Also, speaking of, the middle pickup being wound with the same direction and polarity as the bridge and neck meant the in-between positions lost a lot of their magic, even if they WERE period correct. Idunno... Doesn't seem a fair trade to me. Anyway, I swapped in the 5-way for my buddy while he waited when he came by to pick it up last night, so that's been fixed at least.
All of this sounds way more critical than it should be, because really I enjoyed the hell out of playing and working on this guitar, and it sounds gorgeous. It's a cool instrument, sounds great, and looks great, it's just at a bare minimum if it were mine I'd need to send it off to have the neck reradiused and heavier frets installed. A lot of the changes that Fender has made in recent years are actually really sensible and they've been churning out some really excellent guitars lately, and even features I don't really like (the S1 switching, for instance) are at least intelligently thought out.
Idunno... Awesome guitar, either way.