We here at SADrift get questions in all the time from drift fans all over the country. So we have decided to bring you the answers in a series of articles that deal with all things drifting in South Africa. So strap yourselves in because here comes Professor Clutchplate!
Professor Clutchplate on drift cars
One of the most asked questions I get here at SADrift is what type of car is best for drifting. Well the answer is simple… any rear wheel drive will do.
Many of the cars that you see in drifting videos from overseas were just never sold in South Africa so we’ve had to make do with what we could lay our hands on and what ever we could get from across the border.
I have put together a list of cars that you will most likely find on the racetracks during competition and what we believe here at SADrift makes them good or bad.
The most likely candidate for a beginner drift car is the tough as nails E30 and later E36. The motors are near bullet proof and they will go sideways and around in circles in a heartbeat. The problem with the BMW’s is that they don’t want to stay sideways. The miracle of german engineering and the geometry of the suspension make the BMW want to return to a straight line as soon as possible. There are ways to overcome this but a lot, and I mean A LOT, of suspension work is required to make competitive drifting in a BMW possible.
Many of the Toyota’s that you see drifting were generally never sold in South Africa so replacement parts are very hard to come by and pretty expensive so drifters generally stay away from them. The Soarer, Chaser and very popular Mk1V Supra can all be seen in one stage of tune or another. The older Mk11 and Mk111 Supra’s can be found drifting but are few and far between. There is one Toyota that stands head and shoulders above all other and that is the revered Japanese AE86 but you wont find any of those here.
The release of the Toyota 86 recently brought many drivers back to the Toyota stable but we reckon its going to be awhile before we see many competitive race cars as many of the 86’s are still under warranty and haven’t moved, large scale, into the second hand market. We are already seeing one or two pop up but most of these are highly spec’d and have had huge amounts of work done on them already.
MK1v Supra Soarer
Mazda, bless their souls, gave us the RX7. The FC was sold here in limited numbers while the, absolutely beautiful, FD never made it to our shores. The only reason that I can think this happened is because, Rotary. There are only a handful of Mazda drift cars in South Africa and even fewer are still powered by the 13B and 20B rotary motors. The successor to the RX7, the RX8, sold low numbers here and the Renesys rotary motor had numerous technical issues while the availability of replacement parts has ensured that we have yet to see and RX8 drift car in SA.
Rx7 FC Rx7 FD
Nissan is arguably the king of drift cars in South Africa and makes up the largest part of the field of competitive drift cars.
The Nissan S-Chassis family is revered for its handling and interchangeability of parts. We here in South Africa only ever got the S13 and S14 models. The 200SX model designations were used here in SA for these two models. Although the S-chassis family history goes back further to an S10 and extends to the much sought after S15, the 13 and 14 are seen the most as they are invariably easy to obtain and parts are easier to find. More often than not these cars have had engine swaps as the original motors did not have enough power to race the cars competitively.
The Nissan Z cars, although capable, never really captured the imagination of car lovers. The quirky styling and ridiculous overhangs of the first model 240ZX and 300ZX made the car a nightmare to handle and they were, to be honest, a little ugly. Nissan cleaned up the lines and re introduced the 300ZX (2nd gen) but buyers weren’t convinced. It was a little underpowered and tended to wallow a bit. Very few were sold and they are a rarity on our roads and parts are also not that easy to find.
Nissan re-invented the Z car with the 350z and 370z later on and these have become incredibly popular with drivers although a lot of tuning, weight removal and even an engine swap are required to make the car competitive.
South Africa was introduced to the Skyline with the model 30 and 31 in the 80’s and 90’s. The police used the R31 model as a chase car called the Interceptor, made famous by policeman turned bank robber, Andre Stander. The Skyline never really caught on in South Africa and as result we never received the R32, R33 and much revered R34 models later on, which is a tragedy.
Most of the late model Skylines that you see in S.A , are border jumpers, from Swaziland or Mozambique.
What makes the Skyline the most sought after drift car is that it had the RB motor that made the monster GT-R and suspension and chassis tuning that was years ahead of its time that allowed it to take numerous victories and lap times all over the world.
There are of course cars drifting in SA that are not included in my breakdown but very few of them are actually all out racecars and even fewer are competitive enough.
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