We always hear people say that happiness is around the corner, but for some people, like you, happiness is in the corner. You want to get started drifting? Of course you do! Screeching tires, huge turbos, perfect slides!
Well, I’m here to show you the way to 5 sick drift cars that you can afford! Make sure you got on some fresh tires, because this is going to be a fun one. Let’s go!
Nissan 240SX – The Classic
If you watch any form of drifting on YouTube, you’ve most likely seen the Nissan 240SX. More specifically, the S13 more than once! This is the perfect car if you want to drift on a budget. Take it from me, I drifted one on a budget for years! They’re cheap, well-balanced, and most importantly rear-wheel drive!
The 240SX came out first as the Silvia in Japan, right as drifting blew up in the 90’s. Because of the timing, people instantly fell in love with the maneuverability and versatility of the chassis, with a near perfect 55-45 weight distribution. And here in America, it had a truck-sourced peppy 2.4-liter 4-cylinder which offered solid power that you could easily drift with.
People loved to beat on these things and slide them around corners like butter on a hot pan. Now, that KA24DE is a workhorse. Mine was still slapping redlines at 330,000 miles. If your engine decides to go out, the engine bay is quite roomy, so just throw anything in. Want to go JDM? Put in the SR20DET that God intended to be in there. Need more growl? Toss in an LS V8. Need more turbo noises? How about an RB26DETT out of the R34? Anything goes!
And with parts being cheap and widely available, you’ll never have to worry when you take the turn a little too hot. Careers have been built on the S13! You can commonly see these tossing tail in Formula DRIFT.
And your drifting career can start with an S13 too, because these are cheap! Plus, it isn’t to hard to find one that’s already been fitted out with all your drifting goodies. We found an S13 that was running a turbo with an intercooler for just $7,500. That’s a drift ready 240SX! So, you can save a couple thousand on mods and spend that saved money on the track.
Now, I got a question. What’s the first car that comes to mind when you think of Initial D? That’s right The next car on this list is the famous Hachi-Roku! The Toyota AE86!
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Toyota AE86 – Tofu Car
Also known in the USA as the Corolla GT-S, this little hatchback has roots of being driven on the mountains of Japan. And for most of its life, it was just a Corolla. Lame! Overshadowed by cars that had much more power, the 86 did have a few tricks up its sleeve that makes it desirable: value and weight!
See, back in the drifting days of the 90’s, you wouldn’t go out and buy a brand new RX-7 just to beat on it. That’s reckless and a pretty dumb financial decision, if you ask me. Instead, you would want something cheap, maneuverable, and easy to fix, in case you took the corner a little too hot. And for a lot of people in Japan, that little car was the AE86.
With near perfect weight distribution, this thing could devour corners for breakfast. But, just know, the Corolla isn’t going to blow your socks off with crazy horsepower numbers. The modest 4A-GE engine only put up about 112 horsepower, which isn’t going to set any records, but loves to rev high and do it until the end of time.
The AE86’s controllable chasis and the light weight of 2,300 pounds means it’s super fun at speed. And the AE86 is all about momentum. That means that once your up to speed, you better know how to stay there.
So, if you want a piece of JDM history, we found a red AE86 Corolla GT-S that sold for $8,600. A 35-year-old car for almost $10,000? Welcome to drift tax.
Now what’s an actually cheap JDM car you could buy? One that’s newer, has similar power-to-weight, and doesn’t have a top? Oh, I know the answer! The Mazda Miata!
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Mazda Miata – Featherweight
You can’t go wrong with one of these masterpieces of engineering. The Miata is probably one of the most versatile cars you can get on this list. With a small 4-cylinder engine and a lightweight build, everyone can love a Miata. Want to drift? Buy a Miata. Want to start tracking a car? Buy a Miata. Even if you need a light chassis for that sick off-road build, the Miata has got you covered.
But, let’s slow down. Why is the Miata a good drift car? Well, it’s because of that body. It’s balanced and so light. How light? 2,100 pounds light, and if you want to strip it down, take off the door panels, take out the A/C and all that jazz, and this thing weighs just under 1,700 pounds. That’s pretty freaking light.
Plus, paired with that underdog 130-horsepower 4-banger and rear-wheel drive, the Miata becomes a corner monster.
If you wanna brave the beast, we found a stunning silver one with only 61,000 for $6,000. That’s cheap and pristine! There are cheaper options available, as low as $2,000 or $3,000, but I’m not going to recommend them to you.
Now, if you trick it out with some hardware, you can maybe even fetch a higher price when you sell it to your buddies. And over here at Ideal, we love Miatas. But with so many options to choose from, with the NA all the way to the ND, it can be pretty overwhelming. So, we made a video on which chassis is the best one to buy.
But, I know what you’re thinking, The Miata has 130 horsepower! That’s slow! And you would be correct. But I have a way more powerful car for you guys. Introducing the Fairlady herself, the Nissan 350Z.
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Nissan 350Z – My Fairlady
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen a lot of 350Z’s, because this car is slowly becoming a modern classic, possibly due to its appearance in Tokyo Drift.
The Z has a great chassis, a 6-speed manual, and great power from the infamous 300-horsepower trumpet-sounding 6-cylinder putting power to the pavement at the rear wheels. High horsepower and rear-wheel drive? I know what that means.
Now, even if you don’t want to drift it, the 350Z makes for a super fun and rewarding daily driver. With great power and great looks, it’s just an all-around awesome car. And because of the crazy love for these little things, the aftermarket is huge! So, parts and modifications are widely available, and cheap.
You want one to wrench on? We found an eye-catching orange manual Z for only $6,000. That’s a deal!
Alright, alright, we’re not just going to hype up old Japanese crap cars. What about some German crap cars? Let’s take a trip across the Atlantic to Germany for the BMW E46 330Ci.
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BMW 330Ci – Deutsch Drifter
I know a bunch of your ears perked when I said E46, because I could have said the E46 M3, which is one of the best cars BMW has ever made. Unfortunately, that’s too expensive for this list, so we have the next best thing. The 330Ci with the same super-balanced chassis.
The 330Ci comes as the more affordable option with one major difference. The 330Ci has a 3.0-liter inline-six, which is only 0.2 liters down from the M3. It still offers great power to the rear wheels, and if you want to throw on a turbo, you can easily surpass E46 M3 numbers.
And without that M3 badge, you know you can save a couple of dollars on insurance. The 330Ci has sporty styling and aggressive power, and will look so good in that perfect drift. Nice. If you need a daily driver, that BMW luxury still shines with tons of leather and fine materials everywhere you look and touch.
And while it might not be the most reliable car on the planet, it is going to be one of the most precise and affordable drifters you can buy. We found a 330Ci with 72,000 miles and a manual transmission for only $7,000. That’s a low-mileage gem, and a seriously great deal!
I’d probably take this Bavarian over anything else on this list. It’s newer, more luxurious, and more respectable than driving up in a 35-year-old Toyota.
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