Drifting isn’t just about hammering the gas and hoping for the best; it’s an art form where cars glide sideways through corners with style and precision. To nail that perfect drift, you’ll typically want a car with rear-wheel drive and the engine up front, which helps keep things controlled when you’re pushing the limits.

JDM cars are often the go-to machines for this, thanks to their balance and agility, but they aren’t the only ones. Let’s check out 20 cars that rule the world of drifting.

Ford Mustang RTR

RTR Vehicles

The Ford Mustang is a top choice for drifting, thanks to its popularity and the extensive aftermarket support it enjoys. The 2022 Formula Drift championship features three Mustangs, two of which are modified by RTR. Founded by drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr., RTR has been partnering with Ford since 2009, effectively receiving factory backing for their drift modifications. This collaboration marked one of the first times an automaker directly supported drift car production.

E30 BMW 3 Series


The E30 BMW 3 Series is gaining in value, so finding one at a reasonable price is getting tougher unless it’s already set up for the track. However, these cars are legendary for a reason. We recommend the 325i, which boasts a 2.5-liter inline-six engine with 170 horsepower. Despite their age, E30s have a fantastic chassis that makes them a near-perfect driving machine. With the right aftermarket parts, you can transform an E30 into a phenomenal drift car on the track.

Honda S2000


The Honda S2000, introduced in 1999, is one of the best driver’s cars available to the general public. Early models feature a high-revving 2.0-liter engine, while later models came with a 2.2-liter version. Both engines are excellent for drifting, and the aftermarket scene offers plenty of parts to enhance its performance. Prices for the S2000 have been climbing, making it a pricier entry into the drifting world.

Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT86 / Scion FR-S


The “Toyobaru” trio—Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT86, and Scion FR-S—are made for drifting right out of the box. Their chassis is one of the best for sideways action. With a 2.0-liter boxer engine putting out around 200 horsepower, they offer a great balance of power and control. While their prices are reasonable, there are cheaper track-only options if you’re looking to save some cash. However, with the vast aftermarket support, you can easily boost performance and make these cars drift kings on any circuit.

Lexus IS300 / Toyota Altezza


The Lexus IS300, known as the Toyota Altezza in Japan, hit the market in 1998 and quickly became a favorite in the drifting community by the early 2000s. It comes with a naturally aspirated 2JZ engine, which provides enough power for beginners. For those seeking more performance, swapping in a turbocharged 2JZ or 1JZ engine is relatively straightforward. Another option is adding a supercharger to the stock engine. The IS300/Altezza is an excellent foundation for building a mid-2000s D1GP-style drift car, combining reliability with great tuning potential.

Mazda RX-7 FD3S


The Mazda RX-7 FD3S is a top-tier drift car, but it comes with a hefty price tag. This third-generation RX-7 not only looks stunning but also features a well-balanced chassis. Its twin-turbocharged rotary engine screams like a banshee when pushed to the limit. The FD3S has a strong aftermarket scene and responds well to upgrades, making it a favorite among drifters. However, it’s not without its downsides. The RX-7 guzzles gas, consumes oil, and its rotary engine needs occasional rebuilding. Despite these quirks, its performance and style make it worth the investment for serious drifters.

Toyota JZX-90


The Toyota JZX-90 Mark II is a top pick for those who want a drift car that can also handle family duties. This JDM sedan has been a favorite among Asian drifters for decades. Its appeal lies in the front-engine, rear-drive layout, turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-six 1JZ-GTE engine, and a five-speed manual transmission with a limited-slip differential. The JZX-90’s long wheelbase and well-balanced chassis make it an ideal option for beginner drifters looking for a reliable and capable car to hone their skills.

Dodge Viper


Believe it or not, the Dodge Viper can be a beastly drift car, as proven by Samuel Hübinette and Dean Kearney in Formula Drift. Known for being a bit wild, the Viper’s massive V10 engine adds to the challenge, especially when you crank up the power. To handle this beast, you’ll need to sort out the suspension and add a full roll cage for safety. It might be a handful, but with the right setup, the Viper can deliver some seriously impressive sideways action.

S13 Nissan 240SX


The S13 Nissan 240SX is a legend in the drifting world, often compared to the Toyota Corolla AE86. You can still find the S13 for a bit less cash than the AE86, making it a great choice for budget-conscious drifters. In other markets, it featured a turbocharged 1.8-liter CA18DET engine, but in the U.S., it came with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter KA24E. The KA24E can be tuned for decent performance, but for serious power, an engine swap to a turbocharged SR20DET or RB25DET is the way to go. The S13’s balance and mod potential make it a drift favorite.

Holden Commodore

By GTHO – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=102137337

While the Holden Commodore isn’t a household name in the U.S., it’s a legend in Australia. Dominating the sales charts for years, the Commodore was Australia’s best-selling car from 1996 to 2010. Top-spec models come with GM’s LS V8 engine, making them highly tunable for drifting. The rear-wheel-drive layout and manual transmission add to its drift appeal. The Commodore gained international fame when Josh Robinson brought a Commodore Ute to the Formula Drift series in 2017. Though production stopped in 2017, the Commodore’s legacy lives on.

Chevrolet Corvette C5


Despite its high performance, these Corvettes are surprisingly affordable nowadays. Powered by an LS V8 engine, the C5 offers impressive power and a huge selection of aftermarket parts. This makes it easy to customize and upgrade. When something breaks, replacement parts are readily available, unlike some older JDM cars. With its rear-wheel drive setup and ample horsepower, the C5 Corvette is a solid choice for anyone looking to get into drifting without breaking the bank.

R33 Nissan Skyline GTS-T


The R33 Nissan Skyline GTS-T is a standout from the JDM golden era, perfect for drifting. Unlike its GT-R sibling, which features an advanced AWD system, the GTS-T is rear-wheel drive, making it more suited for sideways action. Under the hood, it sports a 2.5-liter RB26DET straight-six engine. While it doesn’t have the same power as the GT-R out of the box, a few bolt-on upgrades can significantly boost its performance.

Mazda RX-8


Following the iconic RX-7, the Mazda RX-8 is a more flawed but budget-friendly option. The good news is that RX-8s are very affordable now and offer excellent handling. With rear suicide doors and four seats, it’s even somewhat practical for daily use. On the downside, the RX-8’s 1.3-liter Renesis Wankel engine lacks a turbocharger and is notorious for drinking oil and gasoline. Reliability is also a major issue. Despite these flaws, the RX-8 can still be a fun and accessible entry into the world of drifting, especially if you’re prepared to deal with its quirks.

Nissan 350Z


The Nissan 350Z is a back-to-basics sports car that excels at drifting. Its predecessor, the 300ZX, was packed with advanced tech like four-wheel steering, but the 350Z stripped things down to a simple front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup. Its 3.5-liter V6 engine is crazy, delivering around 300 horsepower to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual and a limited-slip differential. This car seems designed with drifting in mind. Plus, the 350Z benefits from a huge aftermarket scene, offering everything from turbo kits to widebody kits, making it easy to customize for maximum drift performance.

Infiniti G35 Coupe


The Infiniti G35 Coupe is essentially a more luxurious version of the Nissan 350Z, sharing the same 3.5-liter V6 VQ35DE engine. This means it has the same front-engine, rear-drive layout, manual transmission, and limited-slip differential that make the 350Z a drift favorite. The G35, however, offers a more refined interior and sleeker styling. If you plan on keeping the interior intact, the G35 is a classy choice. But if you’re going to strip it down for a dedicated drift build, the similarities to the 350Z ensure it performs just as well on the track.

Pontiac GTO

Mecum Auctions

The last generation of the Pontiac GTO was essentially a rebadged Holden Monaro, tailored slightly for the American market. Australians have been crafting muscle cars for a long time, so the GTO brings that expertise to the table. It’s powered by an LS V8 engine, offering a ton of aftermarket performance options. Drift legend Rhys Millen even used one in Formula Drift, proving its drift potential.

NB Mazda Miata

Robert Yorde, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=119086092

For an affordable entry-level drift car, the NB Mazda Miata is a great option. The second generation Miata is budget-friendly and comes with a 1.8-liter engine that produces around 140 horsepower. While it’s not the most powerful, the Miata’s excellent chassis makes it a blast to drift. Its short wheelbase can be tricky for beginners, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Plus, if you have a mishap, replacement parts are easy to find and inexpensive.

Toyota Supra MkIV


The Toyota Supra MkIV is a dream drift car if you’ve got the cash. Prices for these icons have soared, so finding one on a budget is tough. But if you score one prepped for the track, it’s worth every penny. Under the hood lies the legendary 2JZ engine, pumping out 320 horsepower stock. This engine is famed for its durability and can handle over 1,000 horsepower when modified right.

Toyota Corolla AE86

By 先従隗始 – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=117494172

The Toyota Corolla AE86, also known as the Hachi Roku, is a legendary drift car. Its 1.6-liter twin-cam engine may only produce 125 horsepower, but the AE86’s lightweight chassis and balanced handling make it a drift machine. This car has a rich history in the drifting scene, winning numerous championships and dominating mountain passes. Drift king Keiichi Tsuchiya’s weapon of choice, the AE86, gained even more fame through the cult anime series Initial D.

E36 BMW 3 Series


The E36 BMW 3 Series is a classic choice for drifting, especially in Europe. While high-performance models like the M3 are rare today, the standard versions were once plentiful and often found sideways on racetracks and backroads. Opt for a 2.5-liter engine variant with 190 horsepower for a good balance of power and control. The E36’s rear-wheel drive and well-balanced chassis make it perfect for drifting.

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Author: Abbie Clark

Title: Co-Founder

Expertise: Automotive Industry, Electric Vehicles, DIY Car Repairs


Abbie Clark is a writer, blog, and founder of RideRambler, Hey She Thrives, and The Bearded Bunch.

From clever car cleaning tricks to the freshest car features and reviews, Abbie loves sharing her knowledge on everything automotive. Outside of her time writing for her websites, you’ll find her fishing with her husband, deciphering her toddler’s babbling, or baking up something sweet.

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