So you are interested in drifting and want to start racing. Long before you can start racing, you need to have a car that can race.
This can be a problem. If you were like me when I started, you don’t have the money to build a Formula D level sliding machine. So what do you do? Well, do what I did; build a drift because we have a budget!
The first step is to find a good platform to start with. This can be a challenge with all the different cars that are used in the world of drifting. But I have some solid rules you can follow that will help make your decision much easier.
First, you’ll want something drifting. By driftable, I mean that it must have the essential characteristics of a drift car. You WILL NEED to find a car that has rear wheel drive (RWD) and a manual transmission. Don’t go out and look for something with an automatic transmission or for some reason front wheel drive (FWD) and say “I can do a tranny shift” or “I can do a RWD conversion”. WHOSE! THIS IS NOT WORTH IT, PERIOD! The goal is to build a drift car as cheap as possible and as fast as possible so that you can be on the track drifting as soon as possible.
Second, you want it to be cheap. I set a budget of $1000. I know many people who found a car for less but got lucky. I set my budget at $1000 for a working car that I could turn into something that would be competitive. In addition to the price of the car being cheap, you want the parts to be cheap. You want a vehicle that has a strong aftermarket following and a large number of replacement parts that are easy to find and inexpensive.
And third, you’ll want a vehicle you’re not in love with. In the world of drifting, you will make mistakes, have accidents and crash. So you want something that you are willing to push to the limit and beyond to improve your skills. Too many times I have seen people who are afraid to push themselves and are there because they are afraid of crashing. In order to learn and improve, you can’t be thinking about crashing, you should be thinking about how you can improve your technique. You can’t be afraid of crashing, it’s inevitable, so accept it.
I think of a 1992 Nissan 240sx for several reasons. They’re cheap, they have a huge following in the aftermarket, other Nissan parts are extra upgrades, and the 2.4L DOHC (KA24DE) engine is tough and loaded with torque.
The cars I would recommend are the Nissan 240sx S13 and S14, Mazda Miata MX-5 (any year), Toyota Supra (I recommend the older body style from the early 90’s), Mazda Rx7, and Toyota Cressida. Or if you like domestic vehicles, you can opt for the Ford Mustang or any other cheap and abundant RWD car.
Next, “Drift Car On A Budget: Part 2, The Essential Modifications.”