Scotts Valley car restoration shop an exotics trip

May 13, 2013 

A couple of Saturdays ago I was like a kid in a candy store, gawking over millions of dollars worth of old vehicles in a Scotts Valley restoration shop and car consignment business.

Bruce Canepa Design has to be heaven for sports car lovers. There were more Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis than I've seen in many years, with other lesser-known exotics also in seemingly plentiful supply.

In the shops behind the showroom floor sat a McLaren Can-Am car, the No. 5 driven by Denny Hulme. It was in pieces but appeared to be all there, with its big block Chevrolet engine, bright orange bodywork and muscular chassis. A few feet away was a rare 23-window Volkswagen van undergoing a restoration.

During my 75-minute afternoon visit, the upstairs museum was closed while the flooring was replaced. Downstairs, hundreds of cars gleamed, all hoping some well-heeled enthusiast would bust out his wallet or checkbook and take them home.

I was drawn to a 1947 Mercury Woody station wagon that once belonged to the governor of a state in Mexico, and a 1939 Ford Tudor sedan with the distinction of remaining fresh over the years without ever being restored. A street-rodded 1940 Ford coupe looked mighty tempting.

A 1969 Dodge Daytona once driven in NASCAR races by Buddy Baker seemed race-ready. A 1932 Ford high boy roadster appeared to be 80-plus years old but actually was a modern build with reproduction parts.

There were several Mercedes Benz gull-wing coupes on the premises, along with less-imposing Mercedes convertibles.

You couldn't possibly miss a 1922 Buick Battastini roadster, a large two-seater with balloon tires, big wire wheels and flowing fenders, a one-off, coach-built creation. An eggplant-colored Jaguar XJ220 looked menacing and a BMW M1 appeared as powerful as a Ferrari.

Among the more unusual sightings was a 2006 Bugatti Veyron, a Richard Petty Prototype Pontiac Grand Prix, a 1957 Corvette convertible with original fuel injection, a 1989 Lamborghini Countach, a 1991 Porsche 962C race car and a 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am race car.

The restoration shops are sparkling clean, and a number of sports cars, especially Porsches, were going through meticulous rebuilding, with detailed worksheets spelling out just what needed to be done.

Only one mechanic had Saturday duty and he was wrenching on — what else? — a Porsche engine.

You know you're in a big shop when there is a four-level rack holding 20 or more vintage vehicles. The Canepa shops have their own sandblasting area and specialty paint booths. No need to farm out anything there.

The complex is open Monday through Saturday during normal business hours. It's at 4900 Scotts Valley Drive in Scotts Valley, about 20 minutes from Santa Cruz.

Going to Canepa Design would make a great day trip for auto enthusiasts, especially those liking exotic sports cars.

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