#2
I just recently got the epi classic, and I love it love it love it. I got it because I love the warm clean sounds that it gets. And it gets raging crunchy too for a wonderful classic rock, Led Zeppelin sound. So ya...IMO I would get the Epi Classic, if you're after the sound I described.
#3
I would get the classic quilt top. Just because.

2004 MIM Strat w/ Fender Hot Noiseless pickups
Sovtek MiG 60
Avatar 2x12 w/ Celestion Greenbacks
Snark Tuner
MXR Custom Comp
Fulltone Full-Drive 2
Dunlop JHM3 Univibe
TC electronic Nova Delay
TC electronic Arena Reverb
#5
Classic. They probably play pretty much the same; the classic just looks a lot better.