Matt Petrie's name may or may not be familiar to you. Maybe you've noticed it in the corner of an Ultimate Klasse photo or maybe you've seen it in the pages of Performance BMW magazine in the photographer credits. Maybe you've actually spoken to him and didn't even realize it. Matt works for AUTOcouture Motoring and will frequently answer the phone to discuss future mods with customers or hit the forums fielding questions about new modifications for BMW enthusiasts. Working for AUTOcouture in New Jersey led Matt to their westward expansion where he worked for ACM West, which leads us to this story. My brother Sam and I took to the skies to visit Matt out in Van Nuys, California.
Matt, being around the modification of BMWs constantly, could easily fall into the trap of continuous modding and never reaching a goal of completion for the car. But that's simply not the case. Much the same as his photographs, Matt sets out with intent and his execution is impeccable. He manages to remain in the OEM world while winking at the modified world with a devilish grin. Matt's E90 M3 is enough to make any purist weak in the knees and an enthusiast of mods drool with envy.
But I digress, on to the weekend. I, determined to have fun and not work, decided only to bring one lens with me - 35mm. My brother Sam and I landed in Burbank on Friday evening and one phone call later we could hear the illustrious Gintani burble tune screaming down the road - we knew who that was. Up pulled our ride from the airport, but more than a ride, up pulled our friend. It was a cool moment to take in, 3 friends brought together by a shared passion for BMWs from the north east were reunited in Southern California.
Matt popped his trunk, in went our bags and skateboards, with ample space I might add, and off we burbled into the new-to-us land of LA. Sam and I were giddy with excitement as Matt gave us a taste of the car's capability and a tour of the neighborhood.
The next day we met up with another east coast transplant, Alex Gaudio, who had his Estoril M Coupe and yet another east coaster riding shotgun - Larry Pipitone of Livery Wheel. So now the total was up to 5 east coast boys, two M cars, and one amazing weekend. We took to the canyons, we went to a car show, we drove down US1 and stopped to enjoy a sunset, we ate the most delicious chicken sandwiches the west coast could offer, we ate In-N-Out Burger, we ate eggslut, we stopped in parking lots and skateboarded like we were 14 again, and we never stopped having fun. Even when Matt's roommate's M4 broke down - we just made the best of it and played games of SKATE while we waited for a tow.
The functional use of Matt's car was very apparent. At first glance you might think, well that's pretty low and you're not going to be able to fill it full of stuff and people and still have any fun. False. The canyon carving couldn't have been more fun *well maybe if I was driving.* The exhaust note, brought to you in part by BMW's S65 V8 engine and in other part by Matt's ACM muffler with burble tune, was so compelling that my brother Sam is currently selling his car to buy an E90 M3.
I'm an older car type of guy, evident by my two E34's that I own and tinker with. I'm fine with some character, some flaws, and some "gotta get to that soon" in my cars. I like the stories that older cars can tell, sometimes by how they were or weren't fixed unfortunately. With that said, I have to admit I had pretty low expectations for the E90 M3. Seeing who usually drives E92 M3's had probably given me a general distaste for the cars. But that's changed now. The NA V8 made me feel like I was in a modern version of my 540i. The torque reminded me where my insides were and what the back of Matt's seats felt like. The downshifts made me giddy. Needless to say Matt is quite good at having his passengers pucker their buttholes in anticipation of police sirens - but thanks to his Valentine V1 radar detector and knowledge of the area, we successfully avoided any run-ins with the long arm of the law.
I won't lie to you and say I'm an expert on E90s. I won't google spec sheets and regurgitate them for you here either. I will tell you about how I asked Matt to cruise around DTLA and park on a double yellow between two red lights for 15 seconds while I lay on my stomach framing the perfect shot of the city skyline only to find I had misframed just a hair and made him do it again. I will tell you about how we kicked it with the Hoonigan team at their facility skateboarding and playing with little drift carts while we checked out Ken Block's newest Gymkhana car. More importantly though, was their invite for us to come to the premiere that night of the Gymkhana Dubai video where Matt was asked to park his car up front if Alex couldn't make it with the green M4 (which we already know broke down and a skate sesh ensued). This was Sunday night and exactly when Sam and I were slated to board our flight and head back east. A not so quick phone call and 100 dollars later we had two tickets changed to a midnight departure from LAX which meant we could attend.
We arrived early, securing a great parking spot for the E90 right up front in line with Matt Farrah's mustang, a datsun drift truck, and so much more. We kicked it with everyone. I'm in the middle of chatting with a childhood idol, Josh Kalis, when I look over and see my brother casually walking and talking with Magnus Walker - this was a night to remember. Even amongst these super insane cars, Matt's laid back style of modding stood out to people and was appreciated. I snapped some more photos here and then headed in for the premiere - which was epic to say the least.
The weekend ended with our last canyon taxi ride up to the airport. Eventually Matt moved back to NJ and the prospect of doing it again went away. But these photos and this story will always be poignant reminders that you need to get up and go sometimes. Whether I mean dropping two gears in your M3 or hopping a flight to visit a friend on the other side of the country, well, that's for you to decide.