Canepa Open House
Canepa (also known as Canepa Design and Canepa Motorsport) is a well-known restoration, tuning and service facility specializing in exotic, classic and sports cars. Historically their name is strongly connected with Porsche 959 — they have been servicing, restoring, tuning and making 959s legal to drive in US since 1988.
To this day they have restored almost forty 959s out of approximately 350 ever produced. They were involved in passing the show-n-display law in US, which introduced the way to import and register previously non-eligible (not certified) but historically significant cars.
Canepa has grown a lot since 1985 and gained expertise to work with multiple European brands — Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes and Bugatti to name a few.
The company’s office and shop (whole block of office buildings) is located in Scotts Valley — a small town on the way from the San Francisco South bay to Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast. It is somewhat remote and absolutely beautiful location in the Santa Cruz Mountains — far enough from silicon valley buzz, but close enough for the local tow truck hitch-ride.
A spirited drive from Canepa to the nearest ocean beach will take just about twenty minutes. Then you can take the Pacific Coast Highway up North — towards Half Moon Bay and San Francisco (more traffic) or down South — to Monterey, Big Sur and San Luis Obispo. Proper routes for testing car’s suspension setup and engine tuning.
I had been planning to visit them for a while and, once an Open House with Gordon Murray, visiting was announced, I immediately knew — the time had come!
Canepa Show Room
The show room on the first floor is a spacious, if a bit dark, area, hosting the rotating exhibit of remarkable cars available for purchase. Every car has a recommendation letter — spec sheet extended with its (and, sometimes, a previous owner) biography details. You can also find them online — on Canepa’s Inventory website page.
Canepa Motorsports Museum
After absorbing more recent examples of technological miracles, timeless design and engineering beauty, it’s time to head upstairs for the refreshing sight of various motorsport equipment.
Cars and motorcycles from different eras, competition classes, driven by various drivers — all handpicked by Bruce Canepa — founder of the company. He competed himself in some of these cars — like this 1980 Pike’s Peak Special which got him the second place overall in 1981.
You can explore the whole museum collection online on your own.
Canepa Shop Floor
Once you have fully enjoyed sports cars and bikes, go around the staircase and through an unremarkable door leading to the cat-walk observing the service bay.
It’s a lovely sight — bright, spacious, clean, well organized and full of exotic cars of a different age. A show-case of a garage straight from heaven.
From there you can spot a few service bays surrounded with storage shelves used for parts taken off cars during extensive restorations and repairs. The upholstery area, engine machine shop and paint bays can be seen on the edge of the service zone.
All of the above can be explored at any time during the regular working hours and won’t require an invitation or ticket for any particular event.
However, since I was there during the “official” Open House day, I got a chance to wander around the shop floor by myself and take as many pictures as I wanted.
You can’t see it from the observation deck, but further into the shop there is a car storage area with the signature 4-level car parking rack.
Hope you enjoyed my pictures of the place, and I can’t recommend it enough to visit on your own. For one, I will certainly be back to check on new show room arrivals and walk around the shop once again. There are so many interesting details there!
Thanks, Canepa, for such an outstanding, accessible and accommodating operation!
Folks working there are living a dream!