TopSpeed’s Top 10 Drift Cars
The sport of Drifting is catching on like wildfire the world over, and that’s not exactly surprising considering it carries the most entertainment value of any motorsport out there. Even F1 has become mundane with cars lapping continuously in a “follow the leader” fashion for two hours. There isn’t much in the form of action, except when spectacular crashes happen, sending carbon fiber shrapnel everywhere. Not exactly safe, but it’s action nonetheless. Yes, aerodynamics make it difficult to overtake blah blah blah.
Drifting brings together the most exciting aspects of our favorite forms of racing in an exciting showcase. What could be better than watching massive horsepower cars going sideways, door to door with each other at breakneck speeds with smoke bellowing out their arches? Okay, well, participating would be better, but not all of us have the type of skill and precision needed to pull off some of these stunts. Of course, some may, so learning a bit about the best vehicles to take out onto the track is important.
The recipe for a great drift car is a generic affair with the following characteristics at the fore: RWD (Duh!), good chassis balance, engine tuneabilty, a limited slip differential, and obviously accessible tuning parts to make the aforementioned a reality. In the list below, you will find a short description on what unique attributes each of the cars bring to drifting, and hopefully will give you a better understanding of the sport and what building a good drift car requires.
Hopefully this will get you swatting bugs with your side windows in no time. Proceed with caution though, as this is a highly addictive adrenalin rush waiting to happen.
Hit the jump to see the list.
10. Mercedes C63 AMG
Pretty much any of the AMG Mercs are born drift cars, the problem is the cost involved. Using one of these luxurious models is a torturous affair for your wallet, especially considering the need to rip out all of Merc’s luxury gear to get it ready for the track in your quest for Drifting euphoria. The results are worth every penny, but it does take a lot of pennies. Actually, it takes a lot of benjamins.
Even in stock form, the crazy 6.2 liter V8 will have tires quivering with fear. A suspension upgrade and adding lightness are key to being able to harness all the AMG fury.
9. Chevy Lumina SS/Pontiac GTO
Try and look for a manual gearbox version. Its V8 has plenty of torque and the longer wheelbase means plenty of room to chuck it about and hold it there. This American/Australian masterpiece is a great example of big power on a small budget that is versatile enough to be fun in almost any motorsport discipline.
8. Nissan Skyline R33 GTS-T
The description of this vehicle is easy; bargain rear sliding bulletproof tank. Even really mint examples are affordable to create a weekend drifter. This was the last to feature the RB25 engine with rear wheel drive and that makes it special. Stock 2.6 liter lump makes 276HP, which is a good base for modding.
7. Toyota Corolla AE86
These are pretty difficult to find nowadays, but you’ll have to look no further than your local JDM club get-together. It’s even better if you can find a TRD: you’ll be worshipped forever. Drifting doesn’t get much more nostalgic than this, with legends like Keiichi Tsuchiya - the father of drifting - starting out with one of these. The engine will require some serious tuning once you have acquired the skill master of the sport, as the NA 4 cylinder under the bonnet leaves you wanting a bit more torque.
6. BMW M3 (E36)
The BMW M3 is a top choice with over 280hp and a limited slip differential as standard. Forget about luxury leather and aircon, its roll cages, bucket seats, and big brakes all the way for full-on drift spec. You won’t need much tuning to light up the rear, so spend the money on other stuff instead.
5. Nissan 350Z
Why pay for a new 370Z when you can get a used 350 far less money? Not a light car to drift, but the 3.5-liter V6 puts out a healthy 276HP. Drift tuning parts are plentiful for suspension, brakes, and engine, and the chassis has good balance making the 350 one of the most driftable cars around.
4. Toyota Supra
The Supra is Toyota’s answer to the Nissan GT-R. The fact that it’s RWD makes us jump for joy because that means serious sideways action. There is plenty of poke on offer from the turbo straight six lump and minor mods will get you turning the weather form sunny to overcast in no time. It isn’t the lightest drift car around, but a healthy diet of stripping and bucket seats should see to that nicely.
3. Mazda RX7
The Mazda RX7 is notoriously difficult to drift if you’re a beginner, but absolute joy in the hands of a talented Drifter. It provides serious sideways pleasure. The car has great balance and the Wankel Rotary powerplant in turbo form makes enough power to smoke tires to their death – even though it’s only a 1300cc. The FD is the model of choice, but any of its predecessors will do.
2. Ford Mustang
Whoever thought a muscle car would be so good at going sideways in a controlled fashion? The new generation ‘Stang might still have a prehistoric suspension and the tendencies of an alcoholic when it comes to flat out cornering, but let that not deter you. The remedy can be found at numerous tuning shops across the States. Five liters of brandy-fueled fury means slides are always only an ankle-twist away.
1. Nissan 200SX (S13/S14/S15)
The Nissan 200SX is a drifter’s top choice. It doesn’t really matter if you have an early S13 model (pop-up headlights) – any one would do. The S13 makes 180HP from the 1.8-liter turbo CA18DET motor, while the later S14 and S15 models use the 2.0-liter turbo SR20DET to deliver 200HP. Both are strong, easy to learn in, and have stacks of tuning parts available. The pick of the bunch has to be the S14 for the perfect compromise between budget and all-around performance. If money is no object, the looks of the S15 cannot be ignored. You can go sideways in style and look good while doing it.