What really matters when you drive a car? Is it how fast the 0-60 time is, what the top speed is, what’s the safest car, or what the most practical car is and so on. The thing that really matters is how it feels, or at least that’s my opinion. I contemplate whether or not to buy this car or that car literally on a daily basis, to the point of driving my wife crazy about what our next car should be.
My most recent car research has been on the top 5 cars for drifting under $10K. Things that I have considered are:
Initial purchase price
Cost of replacement engine
Potential of the car
How fun the car is to drive stock and modified
Having owned 3 of AE86’s; 85’ SR5, 85’ GTS, 86’ GTS with a 20V black top, I can tell you there are not many cars that give you the same feeling as the beautiful sound of red lining a 4AGE motor while heaving around your heaving steering wheel because it was made in the 80’s. It gives you a connection to a car that truely does make you feel that you have become one with the car. Admitted I have watched a disturbing amount of Initial D. However when you are experiencing this deep connection with your car red lining your car through an underpass, it is hillarious when the mini van next to you guns it and blows you out of the water.
Far as drif
iting sure it has loads of potential and has even been crowned champion of the D1GP, it truly is a pain the ass having to get parts for your car. It’s old, most stuff like the A/C, heater, radio and pretty much anything else in the car may or may not work. Most the cars you find on craigslist are overpriced, look like crap, and have 200k miles on them. I cry when I see SR5’s selling for $4k, having owned both the SR5 and GTS
I wouldn’t pay over $1,000 for an SR5. Most of the GTS’s out there have been run extremely hard and been driven and maintained by people with not very much money and think they can be the drift king since they own an AE86.
I do consider buying a GTS from time to time, mainly because of the nastalga of all the other GTS’s I have owned. Who am I kidding it’s because I’m
a fan boy of Initial D. However I wouldn’t buy it for drifting, I would buy just to drive around every now and then. Knowing that all my creature comforts of today’s modern cars are non existent in this car. In all seriousness just buy a new Toyota 86/BRZ/FRS.
The 240SX is another car that falls prey to the wannabe drifters, with most of these cars that are for sale have welded differentials, a replaced KA24DE motor, and some panel that hasn’t been painted. Going for the same price as a stock 350Z with less miles. I have met a variety of people that own 240SX’s and have even built one for my little brother. The one thing that seems to be pretty similar is the budget.
The 240SX owner has some money to buy parts, maybe a new moto
r, but not for labor and everything is a DIY project. Admittedly building a car is half the fun or torture depending on how you look at it, but I honestly can say from a part time enthusiast point of view I will not be able to build a car that is ready to be in the next round of Formula D. Motor swaps are difficult, no matter what anybody says. If you don’t have the right tools, time, enginuity, or budget to get everything done right it will most likely look like every other hack job on craigslist and not a magazine feature.
The aesthetics of the 240SX from the outside can be quite beautiful in it’s classic early 90’s boxyness. The interior has the purposefulness of that’s all you need. There are many manufacturers for aftermarket parts, a lot more than the AE86. But when it really comes down to it on whether or not you want to buy this car you have to ask yourself these questions. Am I willing to dump way more money than I originally intended into this car? Do I care if stuff will break often? Will I be satisfied with a car around 200HP? Am I ok that no girl will want to ride in my car and get a lot of attention from Bro’s? If you are ok with all these questions then I say go for it, but do it because you actually want this particular car, not because it will make you a drift superstar.
I questioned whether or not number 3 was a good spot for this car, but I put it here so I must make the case for it. The IS300 comes with a version of the 2JZGE motor. Sure it may share the same identifier as an NA MKIV Supra, however you are out of your mind if you think you will be able to slap a big dinner plate turbo on this car and crank out a reliable 600HP. A 2JZGTE Supra might be able to pull it off, but don’t kid yourself the IS300 is no Supra.
The IS300 did come with a factory 5 speed from the factory, which most of people don’t know for the betterment of people looking to purchase one. It is possible to locate a 5 speed for sale, unlike trying to find a 5 speed SC300. This car is fun to drive and more capable of drifting in it’s stock setup than an AE86 or a 240SX, but modifying an IS300 the parts are much more slim. There exist parts, but not many options and to get it to be competitive it will cost you a lot more than a well setup 240SX.
You buy this car if you want to slide it around every now and then. Maybe throw a couple of modifications on it. Get something agreeable with the Wifey and possibly throw your little one in the back seat with a Recaro car seat. This is the most practical option out of all these cars on the lists. Something that your wife won’t mind driving to the grocery store. Get it if you just want good enough.
- 350Z / G35
The 350Z probably has the most out of the box potential out of the 5 cars. Has plenty of power and very easy to break loose from the factory. The stock suspension feels a bit “fluffy,” similar to the Mustang, however a set of coilovers will cure this problem real quick. You don’t need to do much to this car. In fact I honestly think a set of coilover would set it up just great.
There are lots of parts for this car, however the 350Z just
seems kind of cheap. I would say that goes for most Nissans in my opinion. Read the forums and you will know that many people frequently experience things like the window motor going out, panels inside the car that are just loose fitted, and a motor that doesn’t last much longer than 100k with being abused frequently.
The G35 fits in with the 350Z because for all intensive purposes they are pretty similar and you can get them with a manual transmission. However the back seats in a G35 coupe are as worthless as most 2+2 cars. So cramming a toddler in the backseat is not the most ideal situation. Get a 350Z if you want to do drifting that is easily initially with power and doesn’t require criminal speeds to initiate a manji drift. However it is much faster, so you may be more prone to getting speeding tickets and not always get to enjoy the love of driving a car hard compared to the other cars on the list without breaking the speed limit.
The Miata is truly a car for a person who doesn’t care what the general population thinks about them. This car will bring that experience of connecting with the car. It’s lightweight nimbleness of the AE86 and nimbleness gives that perfect combination of making you feel like you are faster than you are. In fact drop the top and 30MPH now feels like 50MPH and 65MPH now feels 100MPH.
The car is in fact slow, it’s not practical, but it’s the most fun out of the 5 cars. You don’t have to modify this car at all. Some models come with a Nardi steering wheel and a TORSEN differential. Not to sure if the Miata you’re considering buying has a diff? Call up Mazda with the VIN# they will be able to tell you what it has. You could modify this car and participate in many different types of racing events. You could do crazy LS1 swaps or 20B swaps, but it’s not necessary.
The Miata is the only car on the list that you could buy from some old lady that wanted to drive it when it was sunny out, hop in it, and drift it at “safe speeds” and not feel like you need to modify the car to gain more control. This car has an insane amount aftermarket parts available for it. So if something were to break it wouldn’t cost you that much. A replacement motor for the Miata will run you 1/3rd of what a 350Z will cost you. The price point for a good deal on this car is also the cheapest, by value standards. $4k for a car with A/C, heat, a working radio, a factory TORSEN diff, and a car that was engineered to take a beating every day and possibly squeeze over 200k on the motor. Sounds like the best car out of the 5 in my opinion.