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Drift Car Build-up: Choosing a Project Car


Drifting is one of the fastest growing high intensity motorsport events today. Its popularity has gained greatly due to the movie The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and the Japanese Anime series Initial D. And with the organization of the professional drift competitions such as the D1 GP Championships and Formula Drift, the sport has truly gone through great heights from its grassroots beginnings with street racers drifting in mountain passes in Japan during late nights. The first and foremost requirement for drifting is a rear-wheel drive car. You can forget about drifting if you have a front-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive car. Sure you can do a powerslide with those, but they cannot compete in professional drifting events. *Popular choices for drift cars would be: Toyota Corolla Trueno AE86 – a car highly popularized by Drift King Keichi Tsuchiya and Initial D, which was also insipired by Tsuchiya. Downside for this car is its value has increased considerably due to its popularity. The car is hard to find and is also not a very easy car to use for beginners. Nissan Cefiro A31 – considered as the Honda EG hatch of drifting with its relatively low acquisition cost. The Cefiro is the result of the mating of an S13 and a Skyline. It comes with a stock RB24 engine which you will eventually throw away once you start with your project and swap in any RB engine of your choice with much ease. There are also some who install an SR20DET engine in the Cefiro. This is the drift car for the budget concious. Nissan S13 – the cheapest Nissan two-door car to drift with. More expensive than the Cefiro, but definitely looks a lot sportier with two doors. Comes in a coupe and fastback iteration. Comes with an SR20DET engine in Japan, but most left-hand-drive models come with KA18 and KA24 engines which you’ll eventually swap with an SR20DET engine, which offers more flexibility and abundance of aftermarket parts. Nissan S14 – the more expensive Nissan sports coupe, released locally standard with an SR20DET engine, which unfortunately was mated to an automatic transmission. A manual transmission swap is a relatively easy modification for this car. The S14 is a very good drift car and it is easy to power up the engine with bolt-on parts and an increase in boost. As with the S13, parts are very abundant for the S14. Mazda RX-7 – one of the most stylish cars that can be used for drifting. Unfortunately, the engine does not last very long. There are only a few specialists for the RX-7’s rotary engine in the Philippines. Aftermarket parts are very much abundant in Japan and it is realtively easy to power up the car. Only recommended if you have a big budget. *Note that the suggested drift cars are those that are available in left-hand drive form in the the Philippines. To better illustrate how to build a drift car, we at decided to build a project drift car. Since we wanted to show the basics of building a drift car, we chose one of the most basic vehicles which costs the least. We acquired a 1989 Nissan Cefiro A31 with the help of David Feliciano of DMF Drift Garage, who will also be the one responsible for making initial preparations for the car.


Being a nineteen year-old car, it was not in the best of shape, but the chassis was still in good condition. We first brought to car to Velocity Motors to have the chassis alignment specs checked and readjusted to factory specs as the chassis will have deformed through age. After some minor adjustments, which actually made the car much easier to drive afterwards, the car was ready to be taken apart to begin its new life as a drift car. The chassis alignment step is very much recommended for older cars and especially if you plan on seam-welding the body. A straight chassis is always the best foundation for a project car.

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