Car enthusiasts have great stories. It could be about their first car, a restoration that got out of hand, or the one that got away. Out of all the enthusiasts, a few become collectors and keep a favourite or two lovingly restored in a heated garage somewhere. Then you come across That Guy: the one who has been collecting cars for years, amassing a small fleet. Area 27 founding member Daryl Carter is That Guy.
In a quiet industrial complex in Penticton, BC, Carter keeps 21 classic American muscle cars. “I grew up with muscle cars”, recalls Carter. His dad was a rally racer in the ‘50s and ‘60s, putting Triumphs and Morgans to the test on weekends. In earlier days, Carter also did rally and drag racing – but American muscle cars called to him. Then he saw the Shelby Mustang. “I said one day I was going to own it.” Carter bought his first Shelby – a 1967 model – back in 1975. Now he has three of them, and three other vintage Mustangs.
Carter started seriously building his collection in the last decade. Before that he was busy working – first with the local speed shop he opened in 1976, and later at an investment firm as Vice President of Business Development for western Canada where he still works. “You spend your life working so hard you don’t have time to do things like this", Carter muses as he surveys his vibrant collection. “Now I can.”
For years, Carter and a few of his friends have talked about building a track. So when Area 27 co-founder Bill Drossos – then working on Carter’s collection – told Carter he’d seen a great site, it piqued Carter’s interest. “Bill came back from a trip to (south Okanagan ski hill) Mt. Baldy and said he had found the perfect land”, recalls Carter. “Our first meeting about Area 27 was right here, in this garage.”
Carter and Drossos have more in common than a love of motorsports. In 1991, Drossos ordered a 240 horsepower Camaro through a Penticton Chevrolet dealer. Two of these factory-built racecars landed at the dealership: one for Drossos, and one for Jacques Villeneuve. The cars were so coveted that buyers were required to have been approved race entrants to place an order. Drossos raced his Camaro in 1991/1992, including at Calgary’s Race City Road Circuit – where it lapped at 1:28.4. The car saw duty at Mosport, Indy Vancouver, and Indy Toronto.
When Carter learned of the Camaro’s history – and that Drossos kept meticulous records on it – he offered to add it to his collection on one condition: Drossos had to restore the 1991 Camaro to exact racing condition. This meant finding hard to locate items like the original series issued exhaust – not an easy ask considering the rarity of the cars. Drossos finished the restoration, and Carter asked him to work on more cars.
Of the 21 cars in Carter’s collection, one could imagine taking a few for a spin on vintage days – like the rare Panther Pink 1970 Plymouth Duster or the purple 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda with 1000 original miles. But these will probably remain reserved for Sunday cruising. If any of these cars get to the track it will likely be that ‘91 Camaro. “Or I’ll get something just for the track”, Carter says with a smile. “Like a Viper, or maybe the new Boss Laguna. American muscle.”
With a passion for racing and a head for business, Carter knows the potential a motorsports club offers the Okanagan. “This will be a real plus for the region. There’s nothing else like it.” The track at Area 27 is where you can better your personal best. “You don’t race against anyone but yourself”, says Carter. “It’s like golf – instead of trying to get your handicap down, you try to get your track time down.” Then he grins. “And it’s the chance I didn’t have as a kid.”
Well put, Daryl. See you at the track.