Matt Farah is a seasoned automotive journalist who is best known for his “every man’s” approach to car reviews and commentary. Having driven thousands of different stock and modified vehicles, Matt is uniquely positioned to rate and review the performance of pretty much anything with wheels. After studying photography at the University of Pennsylvania, his draw to the automotive industry and car culture was too strong to resist and soon led him to work at Gotham Dream Cars delivering exotic vehicles to their new owners. That experience inspired him to start a motoring club in New York for luxury vehicle owners who paid $1,000 a year to attend driving events where they could safely experience their high-end machines at their limits.
After selling the driving club, he produced opinionated car culture videos under the title Garage419 in which he reviewed performance cars and interviewed key members of the automotive world, such as Craig Lieberman who served as the technical advisor for the films Fast and Furious 1 and 2. This eventually launched his idea for a fully self-produced production company, The Smoking Tire. Here, instead of reviewing brand new production cars like much of the automotive press, the series would take a different approach. Dropping somewhere between two and four videos each week, Matt films himself driving modified cars owned by regular people who, as car enthusiasts, have put significant time and energy into creating custom built rides that express their personality and meet their individual performance goals. The owners ride along in the passenger seat and answer questions and provide explanations as Matt inquires about modification choices and points out handling characteristics that he likes or sometimes doesn’t care for. Having now filmed over 400 of these “One Take” videos, so named because of their raw style with little to no editing, these videos are must-watch staples in the automotive community whose popularity has driven The Smoking Tire YouTube channel to currently have over 178 million views and more than 700,000 subscribers.
Matt has also proved his love of being a wheel man isn’t just limited to land based vehicles as he recently produced a unique One Take video detailing coastal sailing techniques as he and his TST teammates sailed a Leopard 48 Catamaran in Thailand.
The Smoking Tire team is made up of several other diehard gearheads including videographer Tom Morningstar, Director of Photography Thaddeus Brown, producer Chris Hayes and logistical master Zack Klapman. The team also produces a weekly 90-minute podcast recorded in their own Culver City, CA studio covering the car industry, interviewing key guests from the engineering, tuning and automotive entertainment industry. The Smoking Tire podcast is available on the iTunes store and ShoutEngine.
Matt has written for numerous online publications including The Drive, and appears regularly in videos produced by his automotive journalist peers, such as the hair raising video produced by the YouTube channel SuperspeedersRob, where to prove the bulletproof capabilities of a Mercedes S600, Matt sat in the driver's seat while a 9mm pistol was fired directly at the window and door of the vehicle. Thankfully the bullet proofing was successful.
Matt has personally owned a wide variety of unique vehicles and project cars. He fulfilled a lifelong childhood dream when he took ownership of a 1983 DeLorean DMC-12. He currently has a 1996 Lexus LS 400 dubbed “the million mile Lexus” that has over 900,000 miles on the odometer and is frequently loaned out to friends for long road trips in an attempt to break through the key seven digit milestone. Matt’s most intense project car to-date is another childhood favorite of his, a 1988 Ford Mustang that he’s meticulously rebuilt from the ground up, including new body work and an independent rear suspension conversion. Another Ford included a 2010 Raptor 6.2 and for a size contrast, a 2006 John Cooper Works MINI. For a short time he suffered through a 2001 H1 Hummer Wagon that he stated was “an awful mistake”. While in college he sported a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer which he installed a full home theater including 5 TVs. He recently sold his mildly modified 1998 Chevrolet Corvette much to Internet controversy as he was filmed saying he’d never sell the car, later explaining that “life is short and there are so many cars to own”. On the luxury side Matt has a 2003 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish with only 12,000 miles. The most recent additions to his stable are a 2016 Ford Focus RS, a hot hatch tuner’s dream and an early 2000’s Mercedes-Benz SL.
Matt announced recently that he may limit the fan-favorite One Take serious to 500 videos, meaning they could be coming to an end sometime this year, leaving fans to wonder what this automotive icon’s next endeavor will be.
This 1973 Citroen SM is one of the coolest and most interesting vehicles ever made. In the pursuit of the ultimate GT car, Citroen created a stunning, 4-seat coupe body powered by a 3.0L Maserati V6 engine and suspended on a unique hydropneumatic self-leveling and height-adjustable "oil suspension," for unsurpassed ride quality before, and arguably since. This example has been owned by friend of TST Alex Roy for the past 9 years.
This BMW 325i is just about as modified as a car can be. It features a turbocharged S52 3.2L Inline Six engine making 560 HP and 550 lb/ft at the wheels, a half-cage, customized interior, sound system, and complete Accuair E-Level Suspension. This is certainly one of the most interesting builds we've featured.
This E46 BMW 330ci ZHP coupe is a clean example of a somewhat underappreciated car. The ZHP package for the E46 3-Series featured 10 extra horsepower, M3-inspired suspension, a subtle body kit, unique wheels, and came in manual transmission only. This one has been modified with the help of a Vortech Centrifugal Supercharger system from ESS Tuning.
This is a very special Porsche Cayman by renowned Porsche enthusiast shop Road Scholars in North Carolina. It features an all-metal wide body with a GT3 front clip, but to look further reveals that every single body panel has been changed. Under the rear decklid sits a 4.2L stroker flat-six making an estimated 400 HP at the rear wheels. There are interior details too numerous to count, and the overall package is incredibly appealing, but to drive it is to really experience how wonderfully balanced this Cayman is.
The Porsche Panamera has always been the best-driving full size sedan money can buy, especially the top-trim "Turbo S" verison. For 2018 though, Porsche has shaken up the formula by adapting the 918 Spyder's "Performance Hybrid" technology to the $200,000 super-sedan, creating a 680 HP monster of an executive sedan capable of accelerating, stopping, and handling like a supercar, while also achieving best-in-class efficiency. There is so much technology in this car it's unbelievable, and although Matt does his best to cover all of it, there is too much to fit in one video so make sure to listen to the discussion on The Smoking Tire podcast for more.
The new Camaro ZL1 / 1LE is, fundamentally, the best of what GM's Performance division can do with the sixth-generation Camaro platform, while still having a road-legal vehicle. It features the 650 HP LT4 Supercharged 6.2L V8 found in the Corvette Z06, but with a much larger frontal area for better cooling and more consistent power. It has Multimatic Spool Valve dampers, like real race cars. You can only get it with a six-speed manual gearbox, and on the Nurburgring, it's faster than supercars not even a couple of years old. This car is, put simply, insanely fast. But does it work as a road car? Do I want one? Let's find out.
This 2016 BMW M5 with Competition Package is a showroom-stock vehicle that is its owner Kody's daily ride in Los Angeles. Making a conservative 575-horsepower, the newest M5's are highway missiles, easily capable of cracking 200 mph and going deep into the triple-digits on even short sections of straightaway.
This 1994 Volkswagen Corrado is, without hyperbole, the cleanest example I've ever seen. It looks practically new in the very rare purple/black combo. Making approximately 220 horsepower from its modified VR6 engine and weighing in around 2,700 lbs, the Corrado was the luxury hot-hatch the world wasn't ready for in the 90's, and a sky-high price tag kept it from selling in huge numbers. Now, as a throwback collectible, we can judge the Corrado on its own merits instead of against the competition in the market and find it's just a fantastic little driver's car.
This unassuming looking Toyota Corolla is an exercise in lightweight fun. Originally purchased as a parts car for the owner's Pontiac Vibe, it was so much fun to drive he kept it. It features a TRD Supercharger, which makes about 200 Wheel Horsepower through a limited-slip differential and a light flywheel. It has a race-spec clutch, race seat, gutted interior, and a full suspension upgrade featuring coil overs, control arms, sway bars, and end links. It is an absolute blast to drive.
The Infiniti FX35 was one of the first SUV's to really abandon off-road performance and focus strictly on sporty on-road driving dynamics. Raised from the same family as the G35 Sedan, the FX35 features that ubiquitous VQ35 V6 Engine and its unique exhaust tone. This one has been modified with some bolt-on engine parts and an ECU tune, good for a livelier throttle response, and has been lowered on a set of Nissan GTR wheels.
This 2004 Jaguar XJR is a lovely, clean example with over 220,000 miles on it. This "X350" chassis car is made entirely of aluminum for a lightweight feel, and features a 400 horsepower, Supercharged 4.2L V8. For its age and mileage the interior and exterior are in shockingly good, original condition and its enthusiastic owner, Kevin, is a character on his own.
This 1972 Mercedes 280SE 4.5 is a stunning example of the golden era of full-size Mercedes sedans. It is a two-owner vehicle with records going back to brand new, and with only 70,000 miles on it, in shockingly good condition. It feels solid as a tank, and is magnificent to drive. Its owner, Werner, is a character on his own, and you won't believe what he paid for such a wonderful classic that he uses as his daily driver in Los Angeles.
This Ford Ranger began life as owner Jake's first vehicle, and slowly but surely transformed into the off-road machine you see today. Though the powertrain remains stock (for now), everything else has been modified, with a competition-spec roll cage, extra-long travel shocks, fiberglass, widened body work, a gutted, race-inspired interior, and 37" Off-Road tires. Matt gets to test the truck on dirt trails, deep sand, and high-speed whoops in the Hungry Valley OHV Recreational Area.
This second-generation MR2 Turbo is a home brew project by owner Michael, who, in all honesty, just nailed it from every angle. It features a JDM 2.0T engine swap from a later Toyota Caldina, a properly dialed in suspension, and the end result is one of the more spectacular driving vehicles of any age or price point I've driven, really, ever.
The Merkur XR4TI was Ford's attempt to bring European styling and handling to the US. By mating the European Ford Sierra chassis and suspension layout with an American Ford 2.3L Turbo powertrain from the Mustang SVO with a new, European sounding brand, Ford thought they might have a winner, but the car was mostly D.O.A. This example has been lovingly restored and modified, and is among the nicer ones still on the road. Nevertheless, it has some incredibly bizarre quirks and one of the worst gearboxes ever put into a modern car.
This 2003 Mercedes E55 AMG is the most recent in a long line of German sports sedans owned by Andria, a paraplegic woman who uses hand controls. These E55's are a screaming bargain on the used market, with clean examples to be had well under $20,000 for a 500-horsepower supercharged V8, rear-wheel drive, and German precision and feel. But as Andria tells us, the challenge lies in the maintenance costs. Check it out on Wheelwell: https://wheelwell.com/andria-franco!
The Audi A5 is a handsome tourer and sporting daily driver whose roots go way back to 2009 without a major refresh. However, it now sports a new front end, interior, and updated 2.0T engine making 252 horsepower and 274 lb/ft of torque through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. Matt uses the A5 to learn NJMP's Thunderbolt course before the American Endurance Racing event, and finds that, for a car not meant for the track, the A5 is shockingly competent at track work.
This monster vintage 911 has been a 3-year project by owner Derek who wanted the ultimate high-powered vintage 911. Though it has the narrow 911 SC body, it features a turbocharged, 3.4L flat six good for 420 HP and 460 lb/ft at the wheels, and weighs in at only 2,600 lbs. It features a limited-slip differential, beefed up 930 running gear, and Bilstein/Elephant suspension. Check this thing out on Wheelwell for the full parts list: https://wheelwell.com/derek-whitacre/...
This 1991 Ferrari Testarossa is an incredibly clean, yet well-used example with medium mileage. In stunning Rosso Corsa over tan, the Testarossa was one of the most iconic cars of the 1980's and 90's. Powered by a 4.9L, 390 horsepower flat-12 engine, with dual overhead cams and a dry sump oil system, the Testarossa went underappreciated for a decade until recently. In this video, Matt discovers what a delight a well-sorted TR is to drive today.
This is a fully restored 1965 Porsche 356C, the final year of the 356. A father/son project, it features a punched-out 1780cc engine, mild outlaw body work, and a rally-inspired interior with fresh hides and rare vintage Tag Heuer rally clocks. Though it's incredibly slow, Matt's first drive ever in a 356 reveals that you can easily feel Porsche's entire lineage and where the modern 911 came from when driving one of these old classics.
This Toyota MR2 Spyder has a stock powertrain, but has been modified with every single JDM accessory available in order to make it look as close to the JDM model as possible, but without converting to right hand drive. With a 1.8L 1ZZ engine and a primitive sequential manual transmission, the MR2 is an oddity in the sports car world, but is light, tossable, and fun in its own unique way.
After a year of daily driving, Matt takes the MOUNTUNE modified Focus RS to the Thermal Club, a private race track outside Palm Springs for some hot laps. It is a very hot day, and Matt runs with the air conditioning on full crank, and yet, the Focus RS performs admirably. Matt's Focus RS is modified with the following parts: MOUNTUNE IntakeMOUNTUNE IntercoolerMOUNTUNE Stainless Steel Brake LinesMotul RBF600 High-temp brake fluidMOUNTUNE Stage 3 91 Octane ECU Tune via COBB AccessportMOUNTUNE Short-Throw Shift KitMagnaflow Cat-Back Exhaust
In this video Matt takes the start of the second race (of two) in the American Endurance Racing Championship's New Jersey Motorsports Park race weekend. Team Road & Track & Friends, consisting of Matt, Jack Baruth, Larry Webster, and Jesse Lazare won class 2 in the first race, and ride shotgun with Matt in the first 5 laps of the second. The MX5 Cup race car is prepped by Bozi & Bojan Taterevic and Josh Howard and features a spec powertrain, Penske shocks, lightweight wheels and 200 treadwear series Dunlop Direzza street tires, per race rules.
This 1979 "G-Body" Porsche 911 has been stripped to bare metal and rebuilt from the ground up to not only a very high performance standard, but also a very high cosmetic standard. It was built by GProgramm of Oyster Bay, NY, with the goal of bringing out the very best of classic 911 styling and modern performance in an air-cooled package. It has been converted from torsion beam to coil-over suspension, with big brakes, modern Fuchs-look wheels, and a 350-horsepower 3.4L "Twin Plug" flat-six.