Here Are Five Cheap Cars You Could Drift in Minutes

You already know what drifting is in motorsport: that sideways movement of a vehicle, with the driver maintaining the car's balance so it won't do a spin or a stall in the middle of an apex and make them look bad in the process.
Drift for cheap 8 photos
Photo: ideal cars/YouTube
BMW E36 Sedan cheap for driftDrift competitionMazda RX-8 DriftingNissan 350Z drift carLexus SC400 DriftMazda Miata with a roll-cageBMW E36 serious drifter
Most people are afraid of getting into drifting due to two main reasons: accidents and costs. First, let's talk about crashes. While drifting looks dangerous, you must know two crucial facts: wearing a helmet and a protective suit, and welding a roll-cage into a car will keep you safe.

If you are concerned about the costs, we understand. Also, the guys from the Ideal Cars YouTube channel thought about that and made an excellent video about cheap cars you can get for drifting. We are not talking about lunch money values, but about four-figure prices. That sounds even better! Let's see some of their ideas.

They start with the Nissan 350Z, which was built for track battles of any kind. You can get a drift-car right from the start with the right package. The Japanese coupe came with a manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. Since it's a rear-wheel drive, it's just perfect for drifting. Not to mention that its chassis is very balanced. Also, the 3.5-liter V6 was good enough to keep the rear wheels spinning and smoking around the corners. Prices for such a car start from about $6,500.

Moving on up the chart is the Mazda RX-8. I loved the handling of that car. It was easy to drift even for a rookie. The only problem was the reliability of its engine. Bonus tip: if it stalls on the track, you can blame that rotary powerplant under the hood. Since reliability is a known issue, its price is very low for what it can. You may find one for as little as $6,500.

Mazda RX\-8 Drifting
Photo: ins001/Flickr
Next in line is the BMW 3 Series E46. These too are available with a manual transmission, and the list of the aftermarket parts is vast. The folks from Ideal Cars suggest the 3.0-liter engine since it's punchy enough. My advice? Go for the facelifted version (from 2002 on) since they have a more robust rear axle. The problem is that this kind of car is not that cheap. If you're lucky, you can get one for $6,500, but most are sold for around $11,000.

Next in line is the Lexus SC400, which you can get with either the 1UZ 4.0-liter V8 or the famous 2JZ inline-six. This engine may be tuned in the same way as a Toyota Supra IV. They are very reliable, but they have two problems: first, they rarely come with a manual, and second, they are heavy, which is not good. Nevertheless, you may still find some under $10,000 in good condition. You may find one from someone who drifted it and can't sell it to regular folks.

If you want light and cheap, there's nothing better than a Mazda Miata. Sure, its power is so low that even your grandpa's Camry looks fast. But this little toy can get you drifting in minutes. The Miata came with a limited-slip differential fitted as standard for many versions. Put some used tires on it and, voila! You're good to go sideways for about $5,000. Ideal Cars found one example for $6,500 that looked great. I would go for the NB version (second generation) since I can barely fit inside the NA.

If you want more grunt, then the Mustang fox-body is your weapon of choice. It comes with a V8 under the hood, which is quite punchy. Yet, at around 6,000 bucks, you can get one on your driveway. Even if it's automatic, you can swap the transmission.

BMW E36 serious drifter
Photo: PxHere
Last in line is another Bimmer: the E-36 3-Series. It is even cheaper than its younger brother, the E-46. I found one sold on Bring a Trailer for as low as $5,500 with a 2.5-liter inline-six and a five-speed manual. And I didn't even open Craigslist yet. So just stay away from anything less than a 2.5-liter engine and forget the hatchback (dubbed ti) version.

Now that you know how to get sooner on the drift track with a car, which one of these would you choose? Do you have other ideas or solutions? Please let us know in our comment section below. We'd love to hear your thoughts! Stay safe, and drift only at the track.

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About the author: Tudor Serban
Tudor Serban profile photo

Tudor started his automotive career in 1996, writing for a magazine while working on his journalism degree. From Pikes Peaks to the Moroccan desert to the Laguna Seca, he's seen and done it all.
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