If you’re a vintage Porsche enthusiast with more than a passing interest in the incredible 1980’s Porsche 959 supercar, you’ve likely heard the term ‘show and display’ thrown about. It was a legal recourse for collectors to import a 959 without going through the lengthy, costly, and difficult Federalization process to make the 959 street legal in the US. Bill Gates is usually the name thrown around in conjunction with S&D laws, but the real driving force behind this piece of legislation (made law in 1999) was Bruce Canepa, who has built a collector car sales, upgrade, and restoration business around that original 959 fame.
In typical form, Petrolicious has crafted a gorgeous video in which Mr. Canepa explains the ins and outs of the process, and how the whole idea began. Porsche had attempted to get some 959s into the US as track-special cars, which begat the 959S specification (featuring a standard coil-over suspension and leather-wrapped roll cage inside). Porsche’s plan didn’t work, and all of those 959S cars were stopped at the port and shipped back to Europe. Canepa then embarked on a ten-year process to get the 959 legal in the US.
Effectively, the Show and Display law allows a car of significant historic or technological importance to be imported, so long as it passes emissions tests required for cars of that year model. Canepa’s crew set about making that a possibility, and now they’ve handled the upgrade and sale of dozens of these iconic Porsche cars through their shop in Northern California.
The 959 was intended by its progenitor, Porsche’s then R&D Chief Helmuth Bott, to prove that the 911 still had a lot of life left in the concept. At the time, Porsche was focusing more on front-engine water-cooled cars, and the 911 was slated to end. By using the 959 as a draft to prove future 911 potential, it could be argued that it was the car to save Porsche’s famed 911. That, in and of itself, is enough to fulfill the ‘historically significant’ clause required for Show and Display.