A drift missile for the price of a smartphone? Hmm, sounds a little far-fetched, I know, but trust me on this.
When I first noticed drifting, it wasn’t through the channels of its Japanese origins; drifting made itself known in the form of Hulk Hogan’s son, Nick, and his dabbling with the pros in his yellow Supra – the one he eventually crashed and left his best friend paralysed with. After a stint in jail, Nick faded away from the scene and that was that, but for the few episodes I saw him drift, I couldn’t help but notice the seemingly large sums of cash needed to partake in the sport.
That was nearly a decade ago, and ever since that yellow and chrome monstrosity, I’ve been fascinated, studying the varying styles and cultures surrounding international drifting. The sport has made a such big impression since the States transformed the Japanese parking-lot precision driving into its FormulaDrift series, virtually every petrolhead on the planet has tried kicking out the rear of their car and holding a drift.
That’s what’s so great about the sport – with a little practice, anyone owning a relatively light RWD car with around 150+ bhp and 150+ ft-lbs of torque can drift it (on closed roads or track, of course).
This has led to the formation of drift clubs both big and small, drivers meeting up and getting their missiles sideways. Drifting has managed to knock down barriers and bring different car genres together, from German coupes to Japanese turbos to American muscle, all shredding rubber together on track.
Owning a drift missile doesn’t have to be costly either, as the title of this article suggests. For the price of a leading smartphone (£600-£999), you can pick up a solid, high-mile BMW E36 325i/323i/328i or a Mk1/2 Mazda MX-5. After ripping out the entire interior and installing a secondhand roll cage and bucket seat, you’re virtually ready for some handbrake/clutch kick action.
Although this article comes across as a poor man’s answer to drifting, it actually backs up the original Japanese theory that less is more. I wrote a piece for Motor Ward featuring the drift king himself, Keiichi Tsuchiyai, the grand master and inventor of drifting. He says drifting a car with limited power (anything under approximately 140-bhp) is far harder than sliding a more powerful car, thus throwing a cheap missile around means you’ll eventually develop uber drifting skills – it’s harder to kick out the rear of an old 130-bhp Toyota AE86 than it is a 400-bhp Skyline.
If the interior is in decent condition, you could sell it and put the extra cash into a super chip or re-map for that extra 25-bhp. Give the car a full service, especially the engine and all of the fluids. Tape up the lights, fix a sports steering wheel and drift brake lever, finally spraying/wrapping your weapon matt black, and you are ready to shred.
Okay, so once you’re hooked and you get the hang of it you’ll ruin yourself spending out on power gains, superior suspension components, racing clutch kits and body panels, but how much more adrenaline do you expect to spill for the price of a phone?
iPhone or iDrift?