Sliding sideways through a turn at high speeds is either the result of a colossal mistake or a well-planned and executed move, but either way, it’s always a thrill. There’s no feeling quite like it. Sadly, until The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift came out in 2006, a lot of people had never even heard of drift racing. While drifting is hardly a recent invention, the sport got a welcome infusion of new interest thanks to the Fast & Furious franchise, especially the third released movie. Whether you just learned about drift cars or you’re an old pro, the ultimate vehicle for drifting is always a hotly debated subject. Every driver has their favorite, but did yours make the top twenty best drift cars of all time? Read on to find out.
20. Toyota Corolla AE86
Most Toyotas are firmly in the category ‘reliable and cost-effective.’ If that sounds like a dull description for a drift car, no worries, the Corolla AE86 is special. Also known as the Hachi-Roku, this particular model first hit the market in 1983 and was discontinued in 1987. The AE86 is so well suited to drifting that it became the darling of the Japanese mountain racing scene. As a result, this specific car was first heavily featured in The Initial D’s popular manga series. It was so popular that the manga branched out into a whole franchise with an animated series and games based on the books. This led to a rise in popularity and prices. Today these sought-after drift cars are a hidden gem for drift drivers.
19. Lexus IS300
The Lexus IS300 was and remains a great, sturdy, durable car. Since drifting takes a lot of power, you need a solid chassis like the one on this car. However, it takes more to drift. According to Quora’s Peter David Hill, “Drift is won on yaw angle. This is dependent on turning circle, but wheels are turned to opposite lock. Turning circle is determined by steering angle, wheelbase, and slightly by track width. Lexus IS300 Turning Circle. 10.4 m (34.1 ft.).” Long story short, the Lexus IS300 is a great drift car worthy of a spot in the top twenty, but some more modern models can hold the slide better. That’s why this one is near the bottom of our list.
18. Nissan 350Z
Nissan offers many good-for-drifting cars. The front-engine with rear-wheel drive compact car is a staple for this company. One of the things drivers note about the 350Z is that general maintenance costs are low on this model. Obviously, any special parts will cost extra, but the Nissan 350Z is easy to get parts for and not challenging to work on compared to many other cars. This is an excellent starter drift car for someone who likes to get greasy and work on their own vehicle.
17. Chevrolet Corvette C6
To physically perform a drift, your car needs enough power to keep the wheels spinning throughout the process. There’s no question the Corvette C6 has the power. Well over four hundred horsepower means your wheels aren’t going to have any trouble staying on the move as you slide through corners. If you want to see a modified Chevrolet Corvette C6 drift like it was born for the job, GM Authority caught the incredibly skilled Matt Field drifting Calaveras Road on a drone video.
16. Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper
Dodge vipers are so famous as drift cars they even have an RC version for children. However, the Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper Drift car has a stunning 1400 horsepower engine for high-speed drifting at its finest. Combined with the V10 engine, this is one of the most powerful cars in the world.
15. Lexus SC400
Lexus SC400s make outstanding budget drift cars. While they are a little cumbersome, that can be an advantage if you make the appropriate modifications. Moreover, SC400s are known for being super reliable, which is always an advantage.
14. Ford Focus RS
When Ford built the Focus RS, it was with drifting in mind. This car even features a ‘drift mode’ to make it easier for drivers to hit those turns and glide right through. These superb drift cars are known for their speed and smoking tires.
13. Nissan 370Z
Most drift cars require serious modification to hit the turns correctly. However, you can (in theory) drift a stock Nissan 370Z. You will still need practice and genuine skill to pull this off, especially with an automatic gearbox, but it can be done. There aren’t many stock cars that can make that claim, especially without manual controls.
12. BMW M3 E36
The BMW M3 E36 is a world-famous drift car. Not only is this a good starter car for new drifters, but it’s also well known among pros. A two hundred forty-three horsepower straight-six engine provides all the power you need to slide through corners. Best of all, these are high value-for-money drift cars with decent resale value.
11. Honda S2000
While the Honda S2000 is technically a roadster, the incredible nine thousand rpm engine is worthy of a supercar. The four-cylinder 16-valve VTEC-equipped engine is called the F20C, and it’s everything you could hope for. It isn’t hard to see how the wheels keep moving through those tight drift turns with that much power. Plus, the S2000 is a great all-around car that is known for its versatility.
10. Mercedes C63 AMG
The Mercedes AMG is perfectly proportioned and set up for drifting. Naturally, saying ‘well-made, powerful Mercedes’ is a lot like saying ‘blue colored sky.’ Any driver should expect an AMG to do well on the track. Although luxury cars aren’t the best starting place for drifting, once you’ve made the necessary conversions, this V8 has surprisingly good weight distribution.
9. Nissan Skyline
Fans of Tokyo Drift know this car. It is one of the truly ‘famous faces’ in the drift world. Of course, the choice wasn’t random. These outstanding cars are among the top ten drift cars anywhere if you can get your hands on one. Sadly, Skylines were once illegal in the US because of safety concerns. According to Fast and Furious Wiki, two 1996 Nissan Skyline GT-R R33’s were constructed (modified) for Tokoyo Drift; one for filming from the inside, and the other for shooting from a distance.
8. Chevy Lumina SS/Pontiac GTO
The Chevy Lumina SS/Pontiac GTO is an unusual drift car for reasons you might not expect. Here in the USA, it is a Pontiac, but over in the middle east, it is 100%, Chevy. The distinction goes even further. In Australia, this car is a Holden, and in the UK, it’s Vauxhall. Whatever you call it, this is one fast and capable drift car. Although these are moderately rare because GM only sold 40,808 total vehicles in the three-year run, it’s still a massive bang for your buck on a V8 engine.
7. Mazda Miata MX-5
As drift cars go, the Mazda Miata MX-5 is a little bit like a pop star. It’s widely known, well-liked overall, and sometimes looked down on because of its popularity. This somewhat cliche choice is durable, reliable, easy to repair or modify, and cost-effective. The first two years of Miata MX-5 are an outstanding starter or weekend project drift cars. Moreover, any drift car collector needs one of these in their garage to fill out a set.
6. Lexus SC300
Featuring the inline-six 2JZ engine, 2002’s Lexus SC300 is another fantastic option for drifting. Closely related to the Toyota Supra, either or both cars are worthy of hitting the turns at high speeds. Additionally, the Lexus got more of the gadgets and gizmos that dominated the Toyotas of the 1990s. The MKIV Supra underpinnings are an excellent place to start, and the Lexus comes with memory, leather seats, which aren’t going to hurt any drivers’ feelings as they accelerate around a bend.
5. BMW E92 3 Series M3
You need a lot of horsepower to kick out the back end on a BMW E92 3 Series M3, but luckily, you’ll have it. With four hundred eighty horsepower, there’s more than enough kick to drift in this BMW. While you may think more of luxury than racing when you hear the brand name, the two aren’t necessarily exclusive. The 4.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine revs at over eight thousand rpm, fitting for a high-quality drift car. A good drift is about the right amount of power and perfect timing, not just the most significant engine.
4. Nissan 200SX
There are a lot of Nissans on this list because the general style of the company lends itself to good drifting. For the ideal drift car, you need to start with a top-tier drivetrain. The Nissan 200SX certainly has that covered. The other thing you need is the right power to weight ratio. This varies by car because body styles and materials will generally have some variances. A bigger, heavier car needs a more powerful engine. The 200SX is considered vintage by drift car standards, but it gets the job done consistently.
3. Toyota Supra
Similar to the Lexus SC300, the Toyota Supra sports a 2JZ-GE, which has more power. Unlike its fancier cousin, this model lacks all the bells, whistles, and unnecessary tech treats. Older models are fantastic, but the 2020 Supra is a drifting dynamo. Despite the lack of fancy features, the Supra has something many drift cars lack; curb appeal. If you want to drift and look fabulous while you do it, you will love driving this car. Paul Walker’s character drove the 1994 Supra MK IV in the Fast & Furious franchise for lovers of fast car movies. The beloved bright yellow-orange vehicle is a fan favorite. According to Boss Hunting, that particular model has 320 horsepower 3.0L 2JZ-GTE inline-six engine and a four-speed automatic transmission and sold at auction for seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars.
2. Ford Mustang S-550
Another nod to the Fast & Furious series is this RB26-powered Ford Mustang. While the model from the movie had a Nissan engine inside, the standard model S-550 is a fantastic drift car on its own. The heavy engine in front, manual control, and exceptionally powerful rear-wheel-drive platforms make a mustang a contender in any drift competition. Ultimately, the driver’s skill is what makes or breaks a winning car, but it doesn’t hurt to start with one of the best examples of American ingenuity. Properly handled mustangs are drift car royalty.
1. Mazda RX7
While the Mazda RX7 is easily the best drift car out there, you probably can’t have one. The problem is that all RX7s built after 1995 are meant for the Japanese market. The left-handed drive setup is illegal in the US, so you’d be hard-pressed to find one of these gems on this side of the pond. With sleek curves, anyone can see what makes the Mazda RX7 a desirable addition to any garage, but the way it handles on the drift is why it’s top of this list and most others.
All these drift cars have what it takes to handle a turn sideways, but it takes skill and practice to become a drift racer. The first thing you need, other than a safe, legal practice space and a lot of moxie, is a car that shares some essential features with the ones on this list. You don’t have to have a Mazda RX7 to drift, but you do need a car with rear-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive cars skid, but they aren’t set up right to drift. You’ll also need even weight distribution, lots of power, and a manual transmission. However, starting out with one of the top twenty best drift cars of all time would certainly help.