Drifting has been mainstream for so long now that those who want to stand out from the crowd are going to further and further lengths to do so. A hot pink 240SX used to stand out, but as drifting was about flashy style from the get go, that hot pink S-chassis just blends into the rest of the small Japanese cars representing the other colors of the rainbow, while hurling white smoke out of the wheel wells. To stand out, drifters did what they have always done best- go completely nuts.
Their long list of victims includes Ferraris, Half-size shop trucks, Lamborghinis, Ladas, and bevy of front wheel drive cars converted to rear drive, which of course includes a Prius. One of the great things about drifting is that, in the end, it is a contest of skill, and not of machinery. Because of this the lengths to one can go to build a vehicle to slide out of pretty much anything are truly extreme. The beauty of it is that the entire exercise has no pretension of higher purpose- all of these builds can be described simply as “because we could.”
Many of these listed here are full on professional drift builds meant to be competitive at the national or international level, but also included are shop cars meant to show off a tuner’s capabilities, and private builds made solely for fun, sometimes on a small budget. Whatever one’s personal desire for crazy is, drifters can make it happen.
20 Formula Drift Ferrari 599
The pro drift world is a crazy one, especially since it featured a gutted Ferrari grand tourer equipped with a widebody, tube framed front and rear, and full on drift steering and suspension upgrades. While the standard extreme suspension, brake, and weight reduction modifications were carried out, as well as a now Formula Drift standard rear mounted radiator, the team building the Ferrari found the Italian exotic’s power lacking.
A pair of superchargers were attached to the engine to produce 900 horsepower to alleviate this and allow the car to kick the tail out well above 120 miles per hour.
Like many Ferraris, it ended up on fire.
19 Freightliner Cascadia Pikes Peak Edition
Ken Block started an interesting trend with his Gymkhana videos. Stylized stunt sessions with a variety of vehicles ensued as the Block’s jumping and drifting Imprezas gained popularity on youtube. But one vehicle used in these copycat stunt exhibitions was very different than the rest. The difference was in the title. SIZE MATTERS features a semi originally modified to run the world’s most demanding hill climb, but now used as an exhibition drift vehicle. Taking more skill to drive than Ken’s compact four wheel drive Subarus, the Cascadia is a full on dually semi truck, providing significantly more spectacle than the original Gymkhana videos.
18 Suzuki Cappucino Amateur Drift Build
In the States’, Japanese tuner cars often used for drifting like the 240sx or 350z would generally be considered compact cars. But in Japan, there are the Kei cars, cars roughly half the size and weight of these cars, and that are exempt from many taxes levied on larger vehicles in the big city.
Limited to 660cc, they are little more than high end go karts with car and truck bodies bolted on top.
But many a Japanese racer has realized the obvious benefits of a 1400lbs car, and many Kei sports cars have been modified for racing. This enterprising gentleman has upgraded his previously 60ish horsepower Suzuki Cappuccino into a lightweight drift machine with more than double the original power, and proper suspension upgrades.
17 Keitora Drift Trucks
While there were three great Kei sports cars produced in the 90’s, including the front engine rear drive Cappuccino, and mid engine rear drive Beat and AZ-1, Kei work trucks and vans have always been and continue to be popular in Japan. Front heavy, rear wheel drive, and very inexpensive, they make for logical drift machines. Some Keitora (Kei Truck) drivers even use the same vehicles to haul produce and wares during the week and then drift them on the weekend. The example here, however, is not one of those. Stylized and meant to not be taken too seriously, this is a kei truck is a drift machine done right.
16 1968 Charger With BMW V8 Engine Swap
When a French pro drifter wanted to stand out, he went Domestic. And not French domestic, but the real stars and stripes kind of domestic. Decked out with a Daytona wing and drift suspension, this 68’ Charger is a sight to behold while sideways, its massive wing towering above the drift circuit like it used to tower above the NASCAR circuit.
Reeking of style and general awesomeness, this is standing out done right.
A BMW sourced V8 provides the power and smoothness to kick the tail out with 5 liters of naturally aspirated power. The engine is out of a 90’s M5, but the wing is off a 70’s NASCAR.
15 Hankook Porsche 911/993
Porsches, 911s specifically, are known for going sideways, just not in a controlled manner. Modern incarnations of the classic 911 have desperately attempted to remedy the inherently tail happy nature of the rear engine layout, largely just adding more and more understeer into the car before engineers finally got over themselves and moved the engine forward for the 991 model 911. With suspension modification the understeer can be taken out of the 911, but the potentially dangerous nature of the rear engine layout remains. This danger hides greatness however, as when the 911 is gripping, the rear engine layout allows it to grip like no other rear wheel drive car. This is what has made the car so successful in the hands of pro drivers.
14 GT4586 Ferrari Engined GT86
The ZN6 chassis siblings, the GT86, FR-S, and BRZ respectively, are basically drift cars from the factory. Relatively light weight, rear wheel drive, decent suspension, and a real handbrake all make for very good reasons why the GT86 and its sister cars are common among drifters.
There are several in pro drift circuits around the world right now, including some championship holders.
But there is only one with a Ferrari 458 Italia’s engine sticking intake first out of the engine bay. Entirely stock, the engine may be underpowered by pro drift standards, but as an exhibition car it is hard to beat that screaming Ferrari wail.
13 Formula Drift Toyota Corolla Hatchback
Sponsorships are a strange thing. They are the very thing that allow a team to go racing, but come with stipulations that sometimes seem counterintuitive to winning. This appeared to be the case with Papadakis Racing when they were ordered by Toyota to use one of their new models, a Corolla that hadn’t even reached showroom floors yet, to enhance product placement. The Corolla was front wheel drive. Drift cars are not front wheel drive. So Papadakis Racing entirely disassembled the vehicle and rebuilt it after cutting in a transmission tunnel, and bolted up a Supra rear differential. Now rear wheel drive and pushing over 1000 horses from a massively turbocharged 2AR and N20 equipped four cylinder, it definitely drifts.
12 Formula Drift Rockstar Energy Passat
But the Japanese hatchback isn’t the only mundane vehicle taken up into the extreme for the sake of the slide. The VW Passat is the most nondescript car on the road, just a box with some wheels underneath and a driver who doesn’t care about cars at the wheel. So when Papadakis Racing was tasked with building a pro drift Passat, they knew some mods were in order. Stripping the car down to bare unibody, the team cut in a transmission tunnel and in front of an indestructible NASCAR-derived transmission installed a nitrous boosted 900 horsepower LSX engine with an insane equal length header system, making a sound that one must assume is certified to wake the dead.
11 Formula Drift Murcielago
Lamborghinis do not have the problem of being nondescript. This was a car that came with scissor doors from the factory, and whose previous owner had already installed a Liberty Walk widebody. But a flashy supercar built to cruise and draw attention wasn’t going to cut it as a pro drift car.
The entire suspension was gutted and replaced, uprated brakes installed, and the interior removed.
In its place came Bride racing seats, Prodrive racing gear, and a roll cage as extreme as any production based pro race car. Engine power has been upgraded to a still naturally aspirated 600+ horsepower.
10 Viper-Swapped 300C
While perhaps not the only Viper-powered 300C in the world, this is certainly the wildest looking. Looking like a car out of Need For Speed Carbon, this V10 300C is equipped with a huge dual-element wing and factory SRT8 body kit, matching well with the custom graphics package. The V10 remains stock, producing roughly 500 horsepower, which is likewise put through a factory T-56 six speed transmission. While not many drifters choose to slide big sedans, those who have enough skill can most certainly do it. And the Viper power coming from under the hood of this big winged beast doesn’t hurt.
9 StrangeWorkShop 3-Rotor BMW Mini Cooper
The current Mini Cooper is very different from the original classic Minis that slew giants both in rally and on track. Practically double the weight, and with components not tough enough to be driven hard on for long periods of time, it exists almost purely as a fashion statement. But there is a workshop where for one lucky Mini, that is all going to change.
A 20B rotary engine is currently being installed, as well as a rear wheel drive conversion.
Massive R888 tires are being test fit, and the braps shall be glorious once this incredible machine is complete.
8 DALA Performance MK4 Golf LS1 Swapped
Scandinavians to not play around when it comes to driving, whether that be track racing, drifting, car building, street drag, or rally. This mentality comes to the forefront with the DALA performance LS swapped MK4 R32 Golf. Twin turbos, a rear drive conversion, and extremely high performance Ohlins suspension components means this VW is a drifting force to be reckoned with. Over a thousand horsepower launches this stripped out and caged hatchback into its sliding work, of course backed up by the full assortment of modified steering gear. Sparco seats, widebody fenders, and a big wing round out the major modifications to make this particular VW go very sideways on a whim.
7 Xenikos Nassos SR20DET Powered Lada
There’s a reason Russian cars never really caught on with the rest of the world. Despite their ruggedness, dependability, and general un-killable nature, they were just junk. Loud in a bad way, slow, unrefined, and uncomfortable, Russian civilian vehicles just were never up to Western standards. But a lot of that can be changed with some racecar-ification. Stripped interior, roll cage, race seats, custom drift suspension and steering, and of course a Nissan SR20DET turbocharged four cylinder engine. Add a widebody to cover the huge tires and a wing for style, and you have a proper automobile on your hands.
6 Cummins Powered Diesel Miata
This was not a build to be practical. It was a build to be fun. A youtube channel with a small following partnered with local schools to build the car as a charity event to promote shop classes in high school, and what better way to do so than build a ridiculous drift car?
Crowd funded, the engine in the Miata weighs three times what the stock one did, but produces way more than three times the low end torque.
There were naysayers, complaining of weight distribution and other such things, but just the fact someone would mention such a thing means they don’t get the point. Yes, its a stupid car. That’s what makes it awesome.
5 Formula Drift Rockstar Scion TC
Papadakis Racing is quite adept at building drift cars out of things that were never meant to be drift cars. Corollas and Passats aren’t the only snore mobiles that these mad scientists have built into extreme machines, though. The second generation Scion TC Fredric Aasbo used to run in Formula Drift had a similar setup to the current Toyota Corolla the driver pilots. The very light weight 2AR four cylinder that came in the car is hooked up to a massive turbo and flung as far back in the engine bay as possible, then boosted even further with a healthy dose of nitrous oxide. The result is a pro drift champion 1000 horsepower Toyota that was formerly front wheel drive.
4 1949 Ford Truck “Old Smokey”
Some ideas are just way too cool to not attempt. Turning a 1949 Ford pickup into a time attack invading, hill climb conquering, drag strip decimating, and drift track humbling weapon is one of those ideas. “Old Smokey” is powered by a compound turbo setup on a diesel engine- a “small” turbo the size of a main big turbo on a pro drift car feeding a terrifyingly large turbine literally capable of sucking in your forearm. On the low boost setting the setup produces over twelve hundred horsepower. Obviously, this is enough to kick the tail out, but it is helped along by extensive lightweighting, including a tube frame front and rear.
3 LQ9 RWD Converted WRX Wagon
Very few have the dollars to put together a massive turbo build on a full on drift car. A much more economically sensible option for many is an LS swap, which provides reliable torque and power that is easier to control than the often peaky and always less than immediate nature of an aftermarket turbo setup. Of the current LS options, the LQ9 is the cheapest, a basic iron block from and old truck.
These engines can be had for three hundred bucks easily from a local junkyard.
So when this drifter saw the cost of upgrading the turbo system in their rear drive converted WRX wagon, they just dropped in an LQ instead.
2 Electric Twin-Motor EV Prius
The Prius is largely the antithesis of an enthusiast car. Lacking power, handling, looks, and most importantly soul, it serves as a point of derision and jokes in the car community. As such, the Prius has given rise to more than a few sleeper builds, largely meant to cash in on the joke for the sake of irony. This is not one of those, however. It is not swapped with a gas engine, but rather the gas engine has been removed entirely, and in its place are two electric motors. With instant torque and predictable power delivery, this electric project car actually works as a drift machine.
1 Honda Element-D
With drifting growing ever more popular, even OEMs were getting in on the buzz. Honda had a specially modified Element crossover built with rear wheel drive and a roll cage, and the resulting vehicle was a hoot to watch being flung sideways. As large as the side of a barn door, and as tall, the truck was so out of the ordinary to be entertaining in its own right. Filling out the mechanicals of the Honda SUV drifter are largely Honda parts bin items, with a twist. A 3.2 liter V6 from an Acura is combined with a pair of turbos to produce 500 horsepower.