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Our dealerships have been hard at work since January, trying to build the best budget race car they can to compete internally with our other brands. 11 of our dealers will be competing in this fun challenge that builds team morale, allows people to get their hands dirty in a fun way, and most importantly – showcases our passion for all things automotive.

Over the next couple of weeks, keep an eye on our social media channels and our blog here on pfaffauto.com to learn a little about what each dealership has picked and why.

Presenting our first of 11 contenders: Pfaff Tuning’s entry into our 8-Hours of Passion Budget Track Car Challenge.

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I can remember quite vividly when BMW introduced the 335i coupe. It was 2007, and I was still working as an auto journalist at the time. BMW held the press launch for the car in Austria, close to the border of Italy. It was the first time I’d been to that part of the world, and I was captivated by the scenery, the airport surrounded by mountains, and the amazing driving roads.

And then there was the car, which struck me as simply the best two-door coupe I’d ever driven at the time. It was such a huge step change from the previous E46 generation. The E90’s chassis still had the beautiful balance and poise I’d come to expect from a 3 Series coupe, but served it up with 300 twin-turbocharged horsepower, a huge step up over the top-flight naturally-aspirated mainstream 3 coupes. The new engine totally transformed the E90, giving it near-supercar levels of speed when you were driving aggressively; simultaneously, when not being pressed hard, the effortless torque gave it totally new levels of refinement and calm.

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Ten years on, none of that has changed, and it all came back to me the moment I got behind the wheel of Pfaff Tuning’s budget track car, a red-on-black 335i coupe that the group had recently purchased. With over 170,000 km on the odometer, it still looked amazing, sitting low over staggered-setup five-spoke alloys, and with a clean black interior. It was, if anything, almost too clean, but that cosmetic cleanliness was hiding some issues under the hood.

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That the Pfaff Tuning team had to rebuild the turbos and replace many of the seals on the engine explains how they managed to purchase it for so little money, but after many hours in the shop and a few dollars spent on parts, the 335i was running well again; the team also added a pair of catalyst-free downpipes and a GIAC electronic tune before reassembling the package for road testing.

It’s as fast – no, thanks to the simple and inexpensive mods – faster than I remember. Throttle response is instantaneous, more like a large-displacement naturally-aspirated engine than something turbocharged. The slick six-speed shifter (throws shorter and more precise than I remember, though it remains unmodified) is beautiful, as is the chassis setup. The steering is heavy, but well-matched to the other controls, and ride and handling are well-balanced. All with a welcome dose of simplicity: there’s no sport button, no adjustable dampers, no variable weight steering, no nothing.

Still, some time behind the wheel reveals much room for improvement. This is a heavy car – in its days, it was a luxurious and rapid cruiser as well as a sports coupe. Losing a lot of the interior, the HVAC system, the power-operated seatbelt “hands,” and more, will save hundreds of pounds. The tires are old and hard, and will be replaced by new Pirellis that are spec tires for the budget track challenge. The brakes are not quite up to the thunderous performance of the motor. And the elegant exterior will need to look more racy to win style points.

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All of this, and more, will come in time, but it’s nice to know that Pfaff Tuning’s budget track car is being built on such a solid base.