Pretty much any car with rear wheel drive could be transformed into a drift missile. However there are several cars that outshine the rest. We’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of each and finally rank them in order. The drift missile cars were going to examine include: Nissan 240sx (S13/S14 North American), BMW 3 series, and the Lexus SC300.
So we have to set up a few conditions to justifiably identify our drift missile chassis selections.
- Readily found under $2k
- Rear wheel drive
- Has aftermarket support
- Was offered with a manual transmission
- Accessible in the United States
- Has some street cred
Drift Missile Contender #1 – Nissan 240SX S13/S14
First Up we have the almighty Nissan 240SX, every drifter fan boys wet dream. This car arguably carries the most street cred of the list and is endlessly supported by the aftermarket. If your lucky enough to get one with a proper aftermarket JDM SR20DET (205 horsepower) engine all the better. Unfortunately the North American version shipped to the states with the KA24DE engine producing roughly 140 horsepower (89-90) and 155 horsepower (91+) not exactly a lot of power but considering the weight of the car at 2700lbs its not a terrible starting point.
The S14 Model was 2 inches longer and 80lbs heavier shipped with the same engine. The problem with buying one of these cars is they are terribly over priced due to popularity and usually modified very poorly. Finding a cleanish 240sx that runs for under 2k can be done but it is a challenge. Overall weight distribution is 51/49 making drifting relatively easier to perform. Spirited canyon driving is also quite fun due to the MacPherson struts and rear multilink suspension.
Nissan 240SX Pro’s
- + Most Street Cred
- + Solid handling lightweight Chassis
- + Unlimited aftermarket support
Nissan 240SX Con’s
- - Generally over priced
- - Under powered stock engine
Drift Missile Contender #2 – BMW 3 Series (E36)
Normally you wouldn’t see a BMW as a drift missile but the 3 series is a very well balanced platform to start from. You would want to get one from 1993 and onward because that is when they introduced variable valve timing or what they call Vanos. Displacement was bumped in 1996 from 2.5 liters (M50) to 2.8 (M52). The M3 model would not qualify as a 2k drift missile budget build unless your lucky enough to find one wrecked or salvaged and rebuild it, but even then your looking at around 5k. Your best bet is a 1999 model equipped with the then newly introduced dual Vanos system that improved low end torque.
There are allot of variations between engine models but in general the 2.5 liter engine produces around 170 horsepower and the 2.8 liter registers 190 horsepower. Both engines are still significantly underpowered by today’s standards but with a little tweaking these engine can come alive. Rear suspension was the “Z-axle” multilink suspension, as used in the Z1. The weight of the 1999 328i is roughly 3200 lbs which is just about middle of the road in terms of weight and for practical purposes the weight distribution is 50/50.
BMW E36 Pro’s
- + Easy to find under 2k, seriously they are everywhere
- + Superior Handling with great weight distribution
- + Larger motor provides more skid potential when modified
- + Significant enthusiast following
BMW E36 Con’s
- - Relatively expensive parts if you buy new
- - Under powered stock engine
- - BMW reliability can be questionable
Drift Missile Contender #3 – Lexus SC300
A Lexus weird right? Wrong. This car has all the makings of a professional drift missile right out of the gate. 2JZ-GE, Bam review done, might as well start the pro’s and forget the cons.
Lexus SC300 Pro’s
- + Easy to find under 2k, though the 5speed is rare
- + Well balanced solid handling platform
- + Legendary 2JZ engine, go nuts
- + Sleeper look
Drift Missile Rankings
#1 Lexus SC300
#2 Nissan 240sx
#3 BMW E36
Reply and let us know what your favorite drift missile is below.