A classy collection at Canepa’s

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Part of Bruce Canepa’s vast repair and restoration shop at the back of his huge building. His collection is upstairs | Jim McCraw photos

Bruce Canepa has been involved in racing for his entire adult life.  He has raced sprint cars, off-road specials, motorcycles, and lots of Porsches, and he knows everybody.

At this point in his life, Canepa is one of the most successful used-car salesmen in America, and the used cars he sells are very beautiful, very rare, and very expensive.

Canepa operates out of a beautiful building in Scotts Valley, California, that was once the world headquarters of Seagate, a maker of computer hard drives that has gone away.  In the building are his gigantic workshop area, his paint booth, his retail showroom, and upstairs, the Canepa Collection, a museum-quality group of beautifully restored big-name race cars from all kinds of racing.

The museum is open daily, hosts once-a-month cars-and-coffee gathering, and admission is free.  

British owner and design Ken Tyrrell was an innovator, and built this six-wheeled Formula 1 car for Jackie Stewart, Patrick Depailler, and Jody Scheckter to drive. It won the Swedish Grand Prix in 1976

Upstairs you will find cars driven by such racing luminaries as Richard Petty, Steve McQueen, Mark Donohue, Parnelli Jones, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Porsches legends Al Holbert and Derek Bell, and cars built and raced by Dan Gurney, Roger Penske, Andy Granatelli, and of course, Bruce Canepa himself.

There are enough trophies, artworks, and racing posters to fill a museum on their own, and some wonderful cars for sale downstairs if you have brought several truckloads of money.  

If you’re anywhere near San Jose, and you know the way, this place is a must-visit for car nuts.

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Jim McCraw has been writing about cars, motorcycles, design, technology, car people and racing for 50 years, in such publications as Hot Rod Deluxe, Super Chevy, Muscle Mustangs, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Penthouse, Winding Road, The Mercedes-Benz Star, AutoWeek, The New York Times, and a number of European publications. He was executive editor of Motor Trend, editor of Hot Rod and Super Stock. He co-holds the record for the drive from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, 96:22, and has run in major events such as the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy, Goodwood, the California Mille, the Colorado Grand, the New England 1000, Forza Mille, and four One Lap Of America competitions He owns a pristine Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan.

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