You have probably seen the magic of what a rear-wheel drive, lightweight car with slick tires can do on the road. The art known as drifting is a special skill many professional and hobbyist drivers develop to race better, look cool, and develop their own driving capabilities beyond everyday use. It is also the flashy form of driving you often see in Hollywood movies since there is something unique about seeing a vehicle slide through a turn without losing much momentum and speed.
While it may seem like learning to drift requires professional status as a driver, you can actually learn on your own or at a local driving school if available. The key is having the right car that is driftable. Not all vehicles make great drift cars, especially when you start looking at larger options like SUVs and trucks. Instead, the perfect drift car has a unique combination of size, weight, engine power, and drivetrain that makes it easier to get the car in motion during the turn.
This is why it is common to see certain makes and models converted into drifting machines. Toyota, Subaru, and Nissan cars are some of the most common for drifting due to their small profiles and lightweight chassis.
If you are looking for a new car and want something with the potential to drift around the parking lot or racetrack on the weekend, here are a few possibilities to check out.
The best drift cars are ones that have great power-to-weight distribution with the right drivetrain. While all-wheel drive cars can drift, the true, pure choice of drivetrain is a rear-wheel drive. This is because rear-wheel drivetrains place the power where it is most effective during a drift. This allows the driver to control the amount of drift with the rear wheels while steering with the front. Rear wheel power also makes it easier to get the weight of the car into the turn more than front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
One of the best rear wheel vehicles for drifting is the Nissan S13. In fact, many other Nissan cars like the S14 also take the top spot in drift racers and hobbyist minds alike. In addition to the appropriate drivetrain, both of these cars come with great power-to-weight ratios, meaning they have more power under the hood and a lightweight chassis to get going effectively
Nissan S13 cars control their drifting using a 1.8 L engine that has a lot of reliability even in used models. If taken care of, the engine can be tuned properly to get the best power and acceleration to control the drift as you develop the necessary skills. The S14 replaced the S13 and came with a more powerful 2.0 L engine to help it get up to higher speeds with ease.
BMW 3 Series
If you are looking for a modern drift car or something you can choose regardless of its age, the BMW 3 series is a perfect choice. Throughout its many generations, the 3 series has retained the same important ingredients that make it a great drifter right off of the lot. The engine outputs plenty of power to control turns at high speeds, accelerate quickly in straight lines with ease given the lightweight chassis, and is easy to maintain for older models.
Depending on the specific trim you choose, the 3 series is also a great budget model since used lower trims are more affordable than the new models BMW has today. Common trims people select for drift cars include the E30, the E36, and E46. Best of all, the 3 series is a comfortable, capable daily commuter. If you want a car that gets you to work during the week and can drift on the weekend, this is the choice to consider.
Nissan cars range a lot in style and purpose. While many have a sports car pedigree and design influence, some of the most successful models in the company’s line have been everyday commuters. The 350Z was a good blend of performance and daily reliability when it was first introduced. Today, a used 350Z also makes an affordable drift car since you can find one for under $10,000.
The real magic of the 350Z is the design of the chassis and weight distribution of the body. The car has just the right ratio of front and rear weight to easily get into drift turns with a little bit of skill. It is easy to make specific tweaks to the drivetrain and suspension to customize the drifting experience as well.
Equipped with a 3.5L V-6 motor, the engine and drivetrain are among the most reliable components available. Coupled with a manual six-speed transmission, the 350Z is one of the most common drift cars people choose when they are starting out to learn the basics of the driving technique.
There is one car that was common a few decades ago that has seen new life as it has aged over the years. Initially, the Mazda MX-5 was seen as less of a true sports car. Small, lightweight, and coming as a convertible, most people associated the MX-5 as a hairdresser’s car instead of a raceworthy vehicle.
That reputation has slowly changed as more and more people have turned to this now affordable option for a beginner-friendly drift car. The first generation MX-5 has a lot of the critical components of a good drift car: extreme lightweight chassis, small frame and wheelbase, and a four-cylinder engine with just the right amount of power for basic drifting.
The only trick with the MX-5 is overcoming the lingering stereotypes this car carries.
Learning To Drift
It does not take much to find the right vehicle to start sliding like the pros. In fact, more than anything else, the most important thing is skill and practice. With the right vehicle, you will be able to sharpen those skills to get the true drift experience in no time.