Best Beginner Drift Cars

So you want to get into drifting? Well, we’re not surprised! It is the fastest growing motorsport in the world, and it’s one you can still enjoy on a relatively small budget. 

However, you might think, looking at the prices of the “legendary drift cars”, S-bodies, Skylines, Chasers, Soarers, et cetera, that the odds of you getting into drifting on a budget are slim-to-none. But fear not! We at the BDC have a list of ten cars you can pick up and make drift-ready for under £5000! 



Five years ago, BMW E36s were as disposable as a stick of chewing gum, with six-cylinder manuals being readily available for under a grand. Many of them met their demise at the hands of objects far more solid than the car. As such, prices have increased over the past few years. However, six-cylinder examples can still be had for around the £2000 mark if you’re quick!

The E36 has a huge drifting aftermarket and all the bits you’d need to go tyre-smoking are readily available! Drivers such as Josh King, Lwi Edwards and Josh Payne have had a ton of success with this particular offering from Bavaria!



As the E36 well has started to run dry, drifters are turning to the next BMW in line, the E46. While heavier, the E46 has some better handling characteristics and more powerful engines to choose from. Again, a six-cylinder manual will run you around £1200, and just like it’s predecessor there are a myriad of drift parts available to get it sideways! 

E46 builds on the BDC grid range all the way from simple-but-effective builds, as with Sean Devine‘s M3 powered car, all the way up to Arunas Narmontas‘ tyre-frying 800 horsepower monster!



The BMW Z3 has been derided as a hairdresser’s car, but people are far too quick to write off what has the potential to be an awesome drift car! Our own Adam Simmons has one as a practice car, and you can understand why when you dig a little deeper. Underneath, the Z3 is identical to the E36. This means that every choice drifting part you can buy for an E36 will fit a Z3 too. Couple that with a tough manual box and a selection of strong six-cylinder engines, it suddenly looks a lot more appealing!



Most RWD Nissans are now far out of the price range of many beginners, and those that aren’t are usually quite ropey. One exception is the Nissan 350Z. Early examples of these can be had for around the £3000 mark, and with the right work they can be made into reliable drift cars which will happily hot-lap all day. With V6 torque and a competitive chassis, how far a 350Z will take you is all down to you.

The 350Z came in many guises in the BDC, from Kristian Rice‘s super-simple build all the way up to Luke Barker‘s 2JZ-powered 900 horsepower beast!



Another hairdresser’s car! Well, if you’re that closed-minded, look elsewhere. For the rest of you who don’t listen to the brays of the uneducated, a Mazda MX5 makes a perfect drift car. Yes, in stock trim they wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, and they can be snappy due to the short wheelbase, but they are extremely fun, and with the right drifting modifications, they can be a very capable seat-time car, which, as any driver will tell you, is the key to success.

The MX5 has been catapulted back into BDC viewers’ consciousness this year, with the super-simple turbo build of Tom Van Beek and the crazy LS powered NC of Jon Smith both taking to the track!



The Mazda RX8 has a poor reputation among the car community due to the unreliability of the engine. Largely this reputation came about from first and second owners not really understanding how to take care of the temperamental but bewitching rotary engine. Rather a shame, as the RX8 is one of the best-driving cars of recent years, with a fabulously planted, balanced chassis. If you’re willing to look after the car, it’ll love you back. And you’ll definitely be able to do sick drifts in it!

The two RX8s on the BDC grid are inevitably not powered by the stock engine, although the V8 powered cars of Owen Atkinson and Matt Denham sure can throw down!


Another chassis which has gotten rare as the drifters have hunted them near extinction, this capable, if underpowered, Jap 4 door can be had for around the £1500 mark, and presents a hugely capable chassis. Fundamentally identical underneath to the Toyota JZX110, a ton of aftermarket parts are available for you to make it into a fun drifter, and Lexus reliability is second to none!

David Goldstraw‘s example, powered by a bone stock Lexus LS430 engine, steered him all the way to a third place Pro 2 finish in his rookie year!



Super-slow Swedish Tanks. Yeah, that’s a fair assessment of the brand. But, you’re missing some crucial aspects of the 1990s Volvo model range. Volvo 940s are available in turbo manual trim for not a huge amount of money, the Redblock engines are as tough as old boots and, well, it’s a Volvo! An impact with anything less than a mountain will cause more damage to the obstacle than the car! Anyone who has watched Gatebil videos will no doubt have seen a crazy Volvo going full send, and all that fun could be yours too!



Yeah, this looks weird right? A Mercedes, drifting? Curse the thought! Well, it’s not as daft as you might think. A manual, supercharged RWD car? All of a sudden it doesn’t seem like as much of a stretch. Granted, it is not necessarily the easiest chassis to enjoy drifting in and you’re not gonna have the same plethora of aftermarket parts at your disposal like you would in a BMW, but it is possible with a bit of perseverance to get all the parts you’d ever need to turn one of these cars into a fun drift machine!


So, now you’ve got the car, what mods do you need to turn it into a drift machine of your very own? Click the link below to check out our definitive drift car mod guide!

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