So you’ve committed to drifting, you’re giving it a go. First things first: buying a drift car. You don’t need to buy something ready to fall onto a track and there are advantages and disadvantages to buying something stock or something where people have put the time and effort in for you. Personally I’ve been down both routes. My first drift car (S13) was ready to go apart from the diff. I saved a whole bunch of time and money on modifications but I put a lot more money into the car such as clutches and gaskets and rust repair. Whereas the standard S14a I bought (even came with an aftermarket traction control unit so I knew it hadn’t been abused) only needed some coilovers and to get the diff welded up. The coilovers cost me a fair amount but I definitely ended up with a more solid car. You’ll often find that people over do it when they get a car ready for the track or for drifting and miss out on some of the key components so I’ve compiled a list of 5 essentials I believe you need for a drift car.
1. Rear wheel drive
Yes we’ve all seen some impressive lift off oversteer and examples of FWD drifting but if you want to do it properly, it has to be rear wheel drive. You’re using the power to essentially encourage the back of the car to try and overtake the front of the car, so unless you want to obtain a whole load of McDonalds trays then stick with RWD. Some four wheel drive cars can be converted by removing the front drive shafts but to me that doesn’t seem right.
2. Front engine
I hesitated when I wrote this because I am well aware that mid and rear engine cars can drift with relative ease. Also if we are picky the RX7 is a sort of mid-engine as the engine sits behind the front axle. However, front engine rear wheel drive cars have a good set up to learn to drift with. They aren’t as snappy as mid-engine vehicles and definitely a whole lot easier than something with an engine in the boot. A lot of the competition drivers (depending on the rules of each competition) try to shift the engine back as far as possible to get the weight towards the middle of the car allowing for faster transitions, great for them, not great for learning.
3. Cheap accessible parts
I love seeing something drift that shouldn’t be drifting or something new and exciting that isn’t a battered E36. But these cars are popular for a reason. The vehicles are cheap, the parts are cheap and because they’re popular there are tonnes of parts for them, both new and second hand. You get cool points for drifting a rare car well. But people don’t care what you’re driving when you’re learning.
4. Decent seat
When you are throwing your car around sideways it shouldn’t be a violent affair. If you watch the interior shots of a professional drifter they look very relaxed. However, the sideways forces do tend to throw you about a bit, with a sports or bucket seat you don’t have to stress about falling out of your seat or bruising your knee on the transmission tunnel (it happens). You should also get a better connection to the car and be able to feel what it’s doing as early as possible. You can get a basic bucket seat off a popular auction site or a forum for under £100. Just make sure it’s road worthy or FIA approved. On that note a harness isn’t an awful idea just make sure it is attached properly, the strut brace is not proper attachment!
5. LSD or welded diff
I did my first drift day in the dry with an extremely worn out LSD. My friend did it in pretty much the same car with a welded diff. whilst it wasn’t impossible to get the car going sideways, he did find it much easier, especially in the transitions. This is because when the car transitions from left to right there is a point in which everything is in a straight line. If you don’t hit that with enough pace and your diff is open or loose, one wheel will want to grip and sending the other into a one wheel spin. Which may produce smoke, but will be embarrassingly pointed out by someone much more in the know. Locked diffs are much more predictable which is a massive advantage especially whilst learning and the back wheels will spin much more easily too.
Oh and stickers. If you have a drift car it is perfectly acceptable to cover it in whatever stickers you like. Not sure why that’s ok but it just is and its fun. Also (you’ll have to check with Engineering Explained on this one) but rumour has it that stickers add BHP.
Anyway, please go ahead and add anything you think I’ve missed in the comments bellow and next time I will be going through some first drift car options.
Also, zip ties, A LOT of zip ties.
Nice post !
Don’t forget duct tape
And tires lots and lots of tires
I’ve also heard that when the colors of the wheels is a completely different color than the car it’s easier to drift :p
This is a fact. Also when the front wheels don’t match the rear!
We must be meant for each other, I drift in Japan and you drift in the UK. Once I bring my car this year we need to get a session together.
Im 100% up for that!
I have to say that there are lots of options beyond welded or LSD
Could you expand on this?
You also need a drift charm, you’ll never be able to do a single slide without that
Don’t forget the plasti-dip
I left this out because I don’t believe it’s essential. Some standard handbrakes are enough, also it’s always good to avoid relying on the handbrake when you’re learning!