Car Builder>>canepa Design: The Inner Workings

In yesterday's post I introduced the magnificent Canepa Design facility in Scotts Valley California, and shared just a few of the iconic cars which can be found inside.

Now let's continue the tour with a detailed look through the workshop area.

Prepare to be amazed.

Whether it's paint and bodywork, fabrication, engine building, or chassis prep – everything is done in-house at the Canepa facility.

At any given time the shop area is packed with dream cars in various states of completion. Whether it's a tech-laden Porsche 959…

…or a fully restored Shelby Cobra.

With the Cobra propped up on the lift, I was able to get a fine view of the meticulously detailed underside. Immaculate.

On the subject of Cobras, here's a dash that was being prepared for another Cobra restoration project.

Great care is taken to make the wiring as neat and organized as it possibly can be.

Not surprisingly, the fabrication area at Canepa was the largest I've ever seen at a shop of this type. John noted that all the fabrication here is done the old fashioned way – as it was when the cars were new. There wasn't a CAD machine to be seen.

I came across this chassis while browsing through the storage area. Can anyone identify what kind of car this is?

If you guessed Mercedes SL Roadster then you are correct. There's some very interesting mechanical design hidden beneath that timeless bodywork…

Also among the facilities at Canepa Design is a full scale paint and body area. In fact, I'd say it's bigger than a lot of stand-alone body shops.

While looking around I spotted the body that goes with the aforementioned SL chassis.

Of all the projects the shop has going right now, this may in fact be the biggest one. The biggest in both scope and in the literal size of the car.

It's a Duesenberg, but not just any old run of the mill Dusenberg (as if there was such a thing). This is actually the first Duesenberg ever produced.

The Dusey is being completely restored to its original state – a long and challenging process to say the least. This is NOT one of those "rush to get it done" projects.

This funny looking vehicle was sitting next to the Duesenberg in the body area. Nothing special, just a Gulf-colored Porsche 917.

Bruce Canepa played a huge roll in bringing the Rennsport Reunion to the West Coast for the first time in 2011. After working closely with Porsche to pull off the massively successful event, the company decided to give Bruce the 2008 Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche RS Spyder.

Now that is one hell of a party gift. John explained me to how the car was re-done in its original Le Mans livery by a local graphic specialist. No easy task I'm sure.

Comedian and Porsche nut Jerry Seinfeld is among the notable folks on Canepa's customer list. This gorgeous Carrera RSR belongs to him.

Many of the cars in the shop have already been restored but are in for minor maintenance. This beautiful 'Vette for example.

One of the well known projects that Canepa has created is this '89 Porsche 911 Speedster.

It's not just any Porsche Speedster mind you, but one that's been transplanted with a twin turbocharged Porsche 962 motor and suspension from a 935. How's that for the thrill of open-air motoring?

Sitting next to the Speedster was the tire balancer and a big rack full of period correct rubber and wheels.

If I was somehow position to acquire a pair of awesome vintage cars with lots of competition pedigree, I couldn't think of a better combo than this '65 Shelby GT350…

…and the '73 Carrera RS that was sitting alongside of it. They even have matching color schemes.

Perhaps not as fast, but still very cool is this '47 Mercury Woodie. The car was originally ordered by the governor of the Mexican state of Michoacán. The car was abandoned and later restored before finding its way back to the United States.

The Bugatti Veyron might be one of the most extraordinary cars produced in the current millennium, but let's not forget about the EB110 supercar from the 1990s.

There were just 139 examples produced – and unless I'm forgetting something, this was my first time ever to see one in real life.

How many times have you seen a "naked" McLaren Can Am car like this?

You can just imagine that kind of sounds that erupt from those two giant pipes…

Nothing to see here, just another 959.

Another project that's nearing completion is this original '64 289 Cobra competition car.

The eight velocity stacks just sit so perfectly on top of the little small block.

Again, you can see just how spotless everything is beneath skin.

The plan is that once the resto is completed, the car will be taken to Pebble Beach and perhaps bring back a trophy or two. From then it's on to the race track where the Cobra will be beaten just how it was meant to be. Who can argue with that sort of philosophy?

There's still plenty to come from my visit to Canepa Design. More tomorrow!

-Mike Garrett

Canepa Design Part One



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dream jobs galore in that place!


To me it looks like the Cobra has eight velocity stacks, but that might because it is 2.53AM here.


I think you guys made a typo in stating "six velocity stacks" when you probably meant eight.


"The six velocity stacks just sit so perfectly on top of the little small block."

I count eight. =)


that cobra has 8 stacks...


"Six velocity stacks"


Quite the collection!!

Still cant find the picture of that Cobra with the six velocity stacks though..


perhaps six is the new eight?


Wait, wait, let me also point out the mistake of miscounted stacks like the million chaps above me.

Seriously guys, is this what the internet has gotten to? Its obvious there are eight and Mike made an error, why take the time to point it out? Do you really think all of us didnt notice. Does it feel much more fulfilling to point out someones mistake instead of commenting on the incredibly rare and priceless machinery posted here?


That place is beyond comprehension. Gotta go see the musuem next I go on a California road trip.


WHAT THE **** !

That is car nuts heaven !!!!!!!!


Any more pics of the Bugatti? I'd love to see more of that rare and elusive machine!

How awesome are their lifts that pop out of the floor!! So cool!


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6... 7... 8....


Better change that to eight velocity stacks on the final Cobra 289 engine pics. Love this write up too Mike, just wish the images were bigger to spot a bit more detail.


You said six velocity stacks. There are eight on the Cobra. Nice write up though.


This has to be one my favorite posts on Speedhunters so much goodness under one roof. I can't even imagine working there... So Cool !!


"The six velocity stacks just sit so perfectly on top of the little small block."

Can you count? These little mistakes are the worst thing about speedhunters. Does your work ever get proofed before publishing it?


that cobra has 8 stacks...


are they hiring? id sweep floors if i have to!


perhaps six is the new eight?


(psst.... eight velocity stacks ;))


great article Mike! so many amazing machines!




why velocity 6 man? isnt it v8?


There are indeed eight stacks on the 289. Mind slip on my part! Apologies.


For Fu#k sake, yes he made a mistake but is that all you are able to take from this article, just enjoy the content. Great Coverage Btw.


If ever I died and were granted to be reborn I would wish to be Bruce. Lol


I love the EB110.


+1 PeterT.

People check out nice pics of a place most of us haven't heard of and would have crap all chance of getting into and "six?" is what sticks out. Why not add info about the cars if the desire to comment can't be controlled.


Mother of God...


OMG this would be my dream to work there. Dd anyone else notice those car lifts built into the ground, how cool LOL


That facility and it's contents are incomprehensibly awesome. The fact that they GAVE him an RS Spyder LMP car is astounding, but after seeing that shop you get a clue of how influential/successful that man is, the BEST shop feature I've seen yet!


Still amazed how many 959s there are in that place. Working there must be a fantastic experience.


It is interesting you write about the Van Merksteijn LMP2. After the victory at Le Mans the team sold it to a Japanese team. What happened after that is interesting. Do you happen to have more info?

You can also mail me at keizer AT

And yes I'am from Holland. ;)


It's official!THIS IS HEAVEN !!!!






this is just...i could leave there forever...


Now that we've had a look at the repair and restoration facilities at Canepa Design, it's time to take a little browse through the main showroom. As you've probably gathered by now, this isn't just any car showroom. It's one filled


looks like the kind of place i'd love to be locked in for a weekend! liking th 959 and the '90's Bugatti. even the original Duesenberg Project in itself is historic to say the least. they must have so very skilled Tech/Mech people working here - wouldn't be a bad idea to interview these type of people to get a more in-depth insight to what is entailed in any of these projects?? you know a well as pictures & blurb - just an idea. - Thanks


I knew it that was an EB110 when the pictures were posted on Facebook way back. I wish I lived in California..........


Seinfeld's yellow RSR is actually a repainted IROC car. I believe it was George Follmer's IROC car from '74.


For the fourth and final part of my visit to Canepa Design, I want to share some of the historic machines that can be found upstairs at the Canepa Motorsports Museum. It's a collection that quite frankly puts a lot of dedicated auto museums to shame


Nice coverage Mike, I've wanted to visit Canepa for a few years now after seeing him beat on his 935's at Laguna!


Some people need to get a life!!!!

"The six velocity stacks just sit so perfectly on top of the little small block." Can you count? These little mistakes are the worst thing about speedhunters. Does your work ever get proofed before publishing it?"

Can people not just enjoy someones hard work and great photos.

Great read. Thanks!