Featured: Canepa is A Big Toy Box

Canepa is A Big Toy Box

By Yoav Gilad
September 10, 2014

Photography by Yoav Gilad for Petrolicious

As we’ve already extensively documented, Pebble Beach is a must-attend event. But heading up there also allowed for a quick stop into an amazing shop, Canepa, located about thirty miles north. I’ve known of Mr. Bruce Canepa, former Porsche racer, truck designer, and all-around car-guy for a long-time now. He’s famous for setting records at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb and finishing second overall, his first time out. He also spent the early 1980s racing 935s and 962s at tracks including Daytona and Riverside. He’s also famous for helping to pass the Show-and-Display 25 year exemption law (along with Mr. Bill Gates) and federalizing most of the Porsche 959s in the US.

But I’m more familiar with Canepa due to their regular ads in the back of Autoweek. The cars on offer always blow me away–they usually include a few Porsche Neunelfers (911s), a few hotrods, and amazing racecars. Further research revealed that, in addition to a massive, full garage, Canepa also has a Motorsport Museum in the building, which used to be a hard-drive factory.

Arrangements were made and on Tuesday following Monterey Car Week, I pulled into the parking lot. Through the gates I could see a Ferrari 275 NART Spyder and immediately inside the showroom floor was my dream car: a Lamborghini Countach (it turned out it was a twenty-fifth anniversary edition, which is why I didn’t buy it. Yeah, that’s why).

But really, the Ferrari and Lamborghini were just a taste of what lay inside. The showroom floor contained about thirty cars, each more enticing than the previous: a bright yellow Porsche 993 C2S with about 3200 miles, a silver 1974 BMW 3.0CSL, I could go on endlessly. Unbelievably, walking into the cavernous garage revealed seven (!) 959s (a couple of which were ‘S’ models), Canepa’s personal McLaren P1 (the only one built with the old McLaren bar logo), Outlaw 356s, Maserati Birdcage, and a Porsche 917. The facilities are extensive and include countless jigs for full racecar rebuilds. With the exception of some chrome and metal plating, Canepa does nearly all of their fabrication, maintenance, and repair work in-house. What was the best part? The car wall. Oh, you don’t have a car wall?

In the near future we’ll be featuring an interview with Mr. Canepa himself along with a story on the 959, but for now, enjoy these photos and make sure you schedule a stop in Scotts Valley, California next time you’re near Monterey or San Francisco.

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Klaus von Stabel
Klaus von Stabel(@vonstabel)
3 years ago

No Way!!!
I Take the M1 to begin with…

Larry Lane
Larry Lane(@larry_lane)
4 years ago

I want the 44 Jaguar GTP car

6 years ago

This story will give you an idea of the kind of “shop” they have in the back of the museum: A few years ago I was on the Targa California with my 1973 RSR recreation and it was having problems with starting when hot. We were enjoying the tour of Canepa’s space when someone suggested that I ask them to install the relay it needed while we were eating lunch on their property. They threw the car up on a lift and started working. About ten minutes later, the tech found me outside to ask permission to drill two small holes in the chassis cross beam so they could mount the relay! Huh? Apparently, because they work on cars that are so highly collectible, even this small and unnoticeable change must have the owner’s approval! I told him, “Hell — it’s a replica! Drill twelve holes if you need to!”

Can Eyilik
Can Eyilik(@clubber)
6 years ago

Amazing collection. Not just rare and expensive but also very tasty and historically important cars. Seem like a must-see place next time in California.

B RAD T(@no1zx6r)
7 years ago

They do modify 959’s – as the author mentioned I’ve also drooled over their ads in Autoweek for years. In the early 90’s I lived in Santa Cruz and visited the shop. It’s simply an amazing place for auto enthusiasts. Great photos here and have to acknowledge the M1 in the pics; a car that was truly ahead of its time. Still a beautiful design and for me an all time favorite.

7 years ago

something about seeing some of these cars in a workshop not a museum … already busting to see the feature on the 959, please make it one of your superb autofilms showing the car in action … one of my all time absolute dream cars … doesn’t this guy modifiy them as well? (as if they aren’t brutal enough already!)

Paul Moseley
7 years ago

I flew from Fort Worth just for the Porsche Werks Reunion, but between events on Saturday morning, we called Canepa, and the woman answering the phone said “please, come on over…” There were maybe five people in the whole place. A staff person came over to introduce himself and offer anything we might want while we were there. We did the showroom, the museum, but the best was the workshop. I bet we spent and hour there, and were just floored at the level of the environment and the level of work being done. Craftspeople at their very best. We saw a red Daytona, bare body and frame just painted, being restored in a corner. The craftsman had bagged and tagged EVERY SINGLE NUT AND BOLT, taping each to the walls. The motor was laid out in precise order, the wiring loom stretched under the workbenches, ’rounding the corner due to its length. We quit counting 959s, we loved the VW bus with 911 running gear being built, the BMW Batmobile, cars stacked to the ceiling, and being a Jim Hall fan, the Chaparral Camaro. My thanks to everyone, they were so nice, but never, once, interrupted us while we toured. If there is that kind of car in my future, I am headed straight there, and I know I will have the best available anywhere. Thanks Canepa!

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman(@fb_1293493178)
7 years ago

i’d rather spend a few hours/days looking through this workshop than the puffery of pebble beach.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
7 years ago

Surprised to see CB’s 275 N.A.R.T. in the States maybe it was shipped over there for Monterey week?

Jack Olsen
Jack Olsen(@jack-olsen)
7 years ago

It’s just nuts.

Alex Clise
Alex Clise(@highonchai)
7 years ago

Wow what a shop. I can’t wait to read Mr. Canepa’s interview and hear more about the 959.

A. Peckham
A. Peckham
7 years ago

Really great pics.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay(@christophergay)
7 years ago

I was wondering where that Group 44 GTP was living. Would love to take it off the wall and stretch its legs at Sears or the old Laguna track.

Thanks for sharing.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle(@mosler)
7 years ago

Men will always stay kids our toys just get bigger. Lovely collection and a hell of a collection too

Doug Miller
Doug Miller(@sportscarfan)
7 years ago

I was fortunate enough to visit Canepa’s a couple years ago. It is truly amazing. As the author states, the showroom includes many amazing, high-quality cars. The museum alone is worth the trip. While I didn’t get a tour of the shop, they have a neat “overlook” that allows visitors to look down into the shop. Any car nut who is anywhere near the place must stop in. No appointment necessary, unless you want to try to arrange for a shop tour. Kudos & thanks to Mr. Canepa for having such a great facility & for making it available for car enthusiasts to visit.