Drifting is a rush. It takes a sense of adventure, a love of high speeds, driving skill and the perfect car to properly experience the power and the adrenaline you can get from going sideways.
As the sport has grown in popularity, so has the numbers of people looking to own or build the perfect drift car. This also means the ability to own a drift car for cheap has become more and more difficult. It is not easy to get a good car at a good price, but it is not impossible.
If you know what you are looking for, you can find the ideal car for a price that still leaves you enough room to perform some awesome upgrades and mods, allowing you to finally own your dream ride.
To help you out, we have created a list of the top 10 cars that are perfect for drifting that will cost you less than $10k to purchase. Here they are, in no particular order:
The Toyota Corolla is one of the granddaddies of all drift cars. With this popular car, you’ll want to look for a GT-S model (1985-1987, if you can find one). The major complaint with the AE86 tends to be its lack of power and because the car is so well balanced — which is part of its appeal — the available engine replacements are limited. Turbo kits can provide a decent solution but if you are looking for an engine swap, consider the Honda S2000 F20/22A.
This can be an affordable option that leaves you the chance for any mods or adjustments you hope to make. Most owners of this car have found it useful to make early mods to the steering angle, switching to a non-power steering rack with added tie rod spacers.
BMW E36 or E46
E36s and E46s are incredible drifting cars and, thankfully, they also remain incredibly cheap! The suspension geometry is perfect and if the car includes the “winter package,” it will likely also have a limited slip differential, which is a huge bonus.
While they are cheap to purchase, you may have to sink a bit of money into upgrading the factory installed cooling system. And like many German cars, parts can become expensive when the drivetrain starts to fail. But the good news is that you can buy a complete swap kit for a full Mustang drivetrain. It is an expensive swap but you’ll be left with a near perfect piece of machinery that will blow people’s minds on the track.
Look for this classic drift car in the S13 (1989-1993) and S14 (1994-1998) models. Like the Corolla, this one is generally pretty drift ready. The lower end prices for these cars will likely have automatic transmissions in which case, you might want to consider a full pedal swap. But if you are new to drifting or car mods, it is best to let someone with more experience handle this move.
This lightweight car has excellent handling. The chassis balance and the long-ish wheelbase help keep stability during a drift while at the same time making it easier to change directions.
Strong V-8 engines and rear wheel drive means you can get a fox-body Mustang sideways in a heartbeat. These cars are also lightweight and have a short wheelbase which makes them easy to handle in a drift. And with over a couple of million sold over the course of their 15-year run, you will not have any trouble getting your hands on one. Parts are inexpensive and easy to find which, again, makes this car an affordable option, especially for a first-time buyer.
You can get an Aston from the 1990s for next to nothing these days. Known to be a bit of a junk heap, you can purchase them cheap, rip out the drivetrain, add a small block from Ford or Chevy and you’ll be drifting like a boss. Look for a non-running vehicle and use the money you save to build it the way you want.
Might not be the toughest car on the list but a Miata MX-5 can be bought for cheap and built into one hell of a drifter. Generally known as an excellent driving car, Miata’s do not necessarily have the power for your purposes but there are many solutions and mods available. In fact, the aftermarket support for this car is incredible which bodes well for any fine tuning you may require.
Fox-Body Thunderbird or Cougar
All of the positives that fit the fox-body Mustang, can be applied to both the Ford Thunderbird and the Mercury Cougar. From 1980-1988 these cars were just basically Mustangs with a slightly longer wheelbase. And because they are not the first car people think of when considering a drift car, they are easier to find than Mustangs. More often than not, you can find a really well priced Thunderbird or Cougar in really good condition. So if you are not able to find a 5.0 Mustang, do not be afraid of this slightly larger car. They have all the same features, and you never know, you might even like these ones better.
If you are someone who loves luxury and loves cars with all the bells and whistles, the Lexus SC is probably for you. This car was the upmarket version of the killer drift car, the Toyota Supra.
The North American versions of this vehicle did not come with the Supra’s celebrated twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE but it does have the non-turbo version and can easily be upgraded. This is the best choice if you’ve been pining for a Supra but can’t find or afford one. The SC can often be found in good condition and if you went for the six-cylinder, you should have no trouble finding upgrade parts and turbo kits for much less than you would with a Supra.
G-Body Buick Regal
People tend to avoid the g-body cars like the Regal, Monte Carlos, and El Caminos, because they think they are big cars. But the truth is, they have basically the same wheelbase as an E36 and are more narrow than one. The chassis is perfect, it is just the overhangs that make them look big.
These cars are available everywhere at a great price and upgrade parts are just as easy to find. And because the engine bay will hold just about anything, turbo engine upgrades are simple as can be.
Sometimes the best car for drifting is a truck. But not just any truck, a compact truck like the Ford Ranger or a Chevy S-10. Perfect for power sliding, pickups are rear drive and lightweight in the back end. All pickups will drift but most are too big and heavy for any competitive uses. With most engines around 300 horses, mini trucks give you everything you need to drift on a budget. In a mini truck, they will never see you coming.
This list is a perfect place to start when looking to invest in a car for drifting that is below $10,000. Did we miss anything on the list? Drop us a line in the comments below ↓