Canepa Design: A Sports Car Enthusiast’s Experience

gulf-porsche-917Sports Car Advisors visited the Monterey Peninsula this past fall to cover the ALMS Monterey Sportscar Championship. While the ALMS is always an amazing show, the real star of our west coast journey was the Canepa Design/Museum experience. We only knew of Bruce Canepa’s Pebble Beach Concours winning cars from other major auto blogs, but it was our turn to lay eyes on some of the hottest and most coveted sports, collector and rare race cars in the world. In advance of our visit to Monterey we had arranged a viewing with the Canepa museum curator. We left Carmel-by-the-Sea in the late morning  for the scenic drive to see the Canepa museum, but much to our chagrin on the day of our visit, the curator was out sick and unavailable to walk us through the museum.

A gracious hostess invited us to view the museum on our own.  Heck, we were down for that!  We started walking  the museum and quickly realized the presence of motor sports greatness all around us. Suddenly a creak of the door and a gentleman came to introduce himself to us as Mr. Bruce Canepa. We were so pleased that the owner would take time to visit and guide us through his museum. Bruce showed us several outstanding examples of his historic Porsche race car collection. Anyone who owns factory Porsche 935s, 908s, 917s, 962s and American stock cars of deep and historic provenance  is simply a rare collector.

While passing by the “Palomar” liveried 935 we asked Bruce how he originally became such a sports car and collector car fanatic. He explained that he worked in the shop of his father’s Lincoln Mercury dealership every day after school from the time he was twelve. One day a customer traded in his Porsche for a Lincoln and that’s when Bruce’s passion for Porsches began.

We continued to browse the museum and heard the first hand the history behind the 908, 917 and the outstanding RSR, not to mention his twin turbo 3.0 liter pikes peak winning buggy.

After touring the museum, Bruce escorted us to the floor of his restoration and service shop. The floor, which you could literally eat off of, is buzzing with restoration artists working on many restorations Hammers bang on primed frame rails while drills hum to bring a famous stock car classic to it’s former glory. But not too close to new, this car shall retain some of its original character and wear and tear as it did when it raced in the late 60’s and 70’s.  The car we are looking at is the Buddy Baker Dodge Charger Daytona. In addition Bruce casually pointed us to a fully restored Mercedes-Benz Gullwing, a Porsche 935 and Shelby Cobra rotisserie restoration.  This is what Bruce is after – complete excellence!

Canepa Design is a practically a factory for ultimate restorations and preservation of the best in motorsports, touring and GT cars. This sports car paradise is nestled in the hills of Scotts Valley, California, just outside Santa Cruz. An unassuming location for such an outstanding collection of cars…

…and overseeing it all, a friendly man, unassuming and truly engulfed in his love of all things collector cars and sports cars.

Below are some photo highlights of our visit to Canepa Design.

Canepa Palomar Porsche 935:


1974 Porsche RSR:


Porsche Gulf 917:


Porsche 908:


1983 Lancia LC-2 Group C:


Buddy Baker Dodge Charger:


Porsche Twin Turbo Pikes Peak Dune Buggy:


1992 Nissan GTP ZX Turbo:


Porsche Can-Am 917:


We salute Bruce Canepa as one of the all-stars of the sports and collector car profession.

If you are ever in the San Jose / Santa Cruz area, it’s more than worth it to make a quick drive to Scotts Valley to visit with Bruce and his team. Great ready to be shocked!

Canepa Design is a testament to the health of this thriving industry.

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