Posted on December 04 2017
When it comes to drifting, half of the beauty is in the style and finesse of executing a perfectly smooth drift. The other half, of course, is in the car. In fact, it’s probably not a far stretch to say that most of us fall in love with drifting because we dream of owning the best drift car.
Which brings us to the question at hand: what is the best drift car?
If you’re considering drifting for the first time, take a look at our list of the best drifting cars. All of these cars are perfect for a day on the drift course. If you already have a drift car, take a look anyway, maybe you’ll find a little inspiration!
Best Drift Cars
Want to learn how to drift? You’re going to need a powerful, heavy-duty car capable of the stress and strain of drifting tight corners. While the following cars aren’t a prerequisite for learning how to drift (in fact, you should probably learn on a budget RWD that you don’t mind putting through the ringer a few times), these cars are exceptionally ideal for drifting.
Undoubtedly the most popular drift chassis available, the Nissan S13 is perfect for beginners to learn how to drift. Most of the models you’re likely to come across will be a bit rough around the edges, but that’s okay—if you’re just starting out you’ll be adding plenty of dents before you’re done with this car.
Due to its popularity, there’s a huge range of off-the-shelf parts that you can find rather easily, as well as an enormous online community of S13/S14 fanatics to consult if you have any questions. Again, great for beginners who want to tinker with their new drift car without worrying too much about component compatibility.
Got some quid to burn? Maybe you want to drift like a pro while looking good at the same time? The Nissan 350Z might be for you. While the S13 is a popular all-around drift mobile, the 350Z is exceptionally balanced, with enough power and control to send you sliding around corners with ease. The 3.5-litre VQ35DE V6 motor comes standard at 300bhp, meaning you can drift the 350Z out of the box. However, with a bit of tinkering you can quickly challenge professional drifters for the top spot.
Powerful, reliable, and pretty dang good looking, the BMW 3-series is perfect for beginners because each model is well-equipped for drifting. Beginners should consider the E30, E36 or E46. If you want to save yourself a bit of trouble (and you have the quid to spare), consider a newer E46 M3. It comes standard with a limited slip differential, and offers superb power without needing to be modified.
It should be mentioned that John McDonald just won the 2017 HEL Performance DriftCup in his BMW E30!
The bad news: The Toyota Chaser was never sold in the UK. You’ll have to import one. Grab your chequebook and don’t think too hard about the numbers you’re writing.
The good news: The Toyota Chaser is a fantastic drift car with huge potential for shredding corners. It’s also one of the few cars that can reliably transform into a day commuter for you and the family when not thrashing drift tracks.
Besides the phenomenal handling, the Chaser JZX100 comes with a 2.5-litre six-cylinder turbocharged motor with variable valve timing. With a couple adjustments, you can quickly take it from the standard 280bhp to about 400bhp.
Toyota Corolla AE86
The AE86 is a nostalgia trip for drifters. Keiichi Tsuchiya, the father of drifting, started his journey in the very same car. Acquiring an AE86 is a journey in itself, however—they’re impossibly hard to come across. But if you can get your hands on one you’ll be the envy of your drift peers. The AE86 is incredibly rewarding to drive thanks to its 4A-GE, and the 1.6-litre engine is good for beginners—not too fast, not too furious. However, if you do find one, consider giving the engine an overhaul at some point, as you’ll be craving a lot more power than what the base model offers.
If the AE86 is too hard to find but you still want that classic drift feel, try to hunt down a Mazda MX-5 instead. This car is widely available and extremely affordable, a perfect combo for new drifters. Even if you’ve been drifting for a while, the MX-5 is so much fun to drive that you should consider adding it to your collection.
At 90-130bhp, the MX-5’s stock power isn’t worth writing home about, but that’s okay, because the magic lies in how light it is—just over 900kg. And that’s before you start ripping out components to make it lighter. Seriously, this car is like a blazing comet on the drift track.
We end our list with a nod to the least likely of drift cars, the Volvo 340. Now, before you laugh at the thought of a Volvo tearing up corners and blazing a furious path to the top of the British Drift Championship, hear us out. This is the little drift chassis that could.
If your budget is stretched thin, the 340 might be your best option. Not only is it affordable, but it doesn’t need a slew of alterations in order to be drift-ready. Grab a hatchback model with a 1.7-litre engine (Renault F-series) and weld the differential. Lower the suspension, add a bucket seat, and you’re good to go.
The 80bhp won’t win over any skeptics, but hey, if you can drift a 340, you can drift anything.
Buying your first drift car is an exciting investment. It’s not just a car for drifting—it’s your trusty steed, one that you’ll come to understand and appreciate on an entirely different level. You’ll know its limits, but you’ll also know exactly how to get more power from it during a drift. You’ll modify, customise and personalise it. You’ll likely annoy all your mates on Instagram with it, too.