12 Best Drift Cars for Under $5k (For Beginners)

The drifting game has really gone up in the past few years, thanks to some amazing drift machines available. There are many tuner cars, especially from the Japanese market, that can be modified according to the needs, and the drift modification has transformed the niche totally.

There are various economical options in the used market that you can buy to quench your thirst for drifting. And most being from the land of reliability, Japan, you wouldn’t be spending time in the workshops, but the place where it ought to be, the Drift track. Let’s have a look at some of the best drift cars under 5k, especially the ones beginners can take sliding.

1. BMW E36 M3

Undoubtedly, one of the best machines to take to the track is the BMW E36 M3. Stiff aluminum chassis, lower center of gravity, powerful engine, and a limited-slip differential, this sports saloon is always gonna be under your control. Although not packed with too much horsepower, the manual 5-speed will get you there in no time and let you spin those rear wheels as you desire.

Best Engine: S30B50 3.0L straight-six naturally-aspirated engine.

Price: $3000 – $5,000

Maintenance: Expensive parts and repairs- can cost up to $1,800 or more a year.

Insurance: $1,450 per year

Also read: 3 Best BMWs for an Amazing Drifting

2. Nissan 350Z

Carrying the legacy of the Z series, 350Z has a classic sports car character. A powerful V6 engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, it has enough power to get those wheels spinning. It also has that limited-slip differential to stay glued to the road and deliver all that power to the rear wheels. With the potential for medication and aftermarket upgrades, it’s a great car to take sliding next weekend.

Engine: VQ35DE 3.5L V6 naturally aspirated engine.

Price: $4,500

Maintenance: It is not so expensive to maintain, and the aftermarket is flooded with cheap parts. Expect to pay $600-800 a year in maintenance costs.

Insurance: $1,100

Also read: Swing Axle vs IRS – Which One is Better?

3. Nissan Skyline R33 GTS

The most prestigious name in Nissan’s motorsports history, the skyline, has a legend to its name, the Skyline R33. GTS s powered by a 2.5L turbocharged powerhouse and a limited-slip differential, it can be a great choice for the track day. With 250 HP going directly to rear wheels, the 5-speed manual will always ensure your command on the R33 GTS. It also has the potential to be tuned up to 400 hp with bolt-on tuning modifications.

Engine: RB25DET 2.5L 6-cylinder turbocharged engine

Price: $3,500 – 5,000

Maintenance: You would not have to spend a fortune to keep the R33 running, with the annual maintenance expenses of $800-1,000.

Insurance: $850 for a year

Also read: Is it Worth Buying a Nissan with over 100K Miles?

4. Mazda MX-5

The best-selling sports car/convertible speedster makes it to the list. Not so heavy on pocket and fun to drive machine. Although it packs less than 140hp, but the lightweight chassis and a quick 5-speed manual transmission ensure that you get enough punch to throw it around the bends. You can even put the roof off to enjoy the serene atmosphere while you drift on this tiny beast. With solid reliability and endurance, be confident with your purchase and enjoy as you’re supposed to.

Engine: BP-4W 1.8L inline 4 cylinder

Price: $2,500-4,000

Maintenance: Yearly maintenance is quite economical, and you’d have to spend $500-700 on average.

Insurance: $800/year

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5. Nissan 240sx S14

The list couldn’t have concluded without the mention of the legend of drifting, the Nissan 240sx S14. It is regarded as one of the best Nisan cars, and drift-capable machines to bless the tarmac. Powered by a 2.4L engine producing 155 hp, lightweight aluminum chassis, and a rear-wheel-drive makes it ideal for sliding adventures. The power can be increased with the help of aftermarket upgrades, making it even fun to drive.

Engine: KA24DE

Price: $5000 or above

Maintenance: It is also quite economical to run and yearly maintenance costs around $700-800

Insurance: $950 per year

6. Toyota JZX-90

The super 4-door saloon packs a powerful punch with its legendary 1Gz-gte engine and a standard limited-slip differential. A 6-speed manual transmission sending all the power to rear wheels, JZX-90 is an ideal car to take to a track day. Apart from its mechanical prowess, it has a lightweight chassis that makes maneuvering much easier and drifting, much fun.

Engine: 1GZ-GTE 2.5L turbocharged 6-cylinder engine.

Price: $4,500

Maintenance: Yearly maintenance can cost you $800-1,000 for regular servicing.

Insurance: $900-1,050

Also read: Do Hondas Last Longer than Toyotas (Comparison)

7. Nissan 180SX

Another legend from Nissan’s portfolio, the 180SX is a smart drift car to own. This icon was launched back in 1989, had a smaller engine and a standard limited-slip differential. Nissan upgraded the powertrain with an SR20DET engine and a 5-speed manual tranny. The lightweight and stiff body allow perfect weight distribution, and better handling, especially at the corners and tight junctions. The standard 200+ bhp can be tuned up to 450 hp with professional modification. It is an ideal car for drifting, and the rear-wheel drivetrain gives you all the freedom you want.

Engine: SR20DET 2.0L

Price: $5,000 minimum for a good condition car and increasing substantially, owing to the car’s soaring value.

Maintenance: $600-800 for a year’s maintenance

Insurance: $950, full-coverage plan for a year

8. Toyota Corolla AE86

No list of legendary drift cars is complete without the mention of the icon, Toyota Corolla AE86. Not a leader in horsepower, excessive styling, or big turbochargers, but the character it possesses s matchless. Powered by a 1.6L engine and even the differential is optional, and 5-speed manual transmission is sleek to use with the lightweight machine. The engineers managed to keep the weight below 1,000 kg, and thanks to this masterclass engineering, AE86 is great to drive and throw around the corners.

Engine: 4A-GE 1.6L inline 4-cylinder twin-cam engine

Price: It might be difficult to find it in the 5k range, but you can still get lucky and this car has a character mention-worthy.

Maintenance: Its maintenance is similar to the normal corolla, expect a few parts that need special care. Expect to pay $500-700 for regular maintenance a year.

Insurance: $600-800 per annum.

Also read: 3 Best BMWs for an Amazing Drifting

9. Mazda RX7 FD3S

Finally, something from Mazda’s stable might RX7 with a great heritage and racing character. It is powered by a 1.3L twin rotary engine that produces 240 hp, thanks to its smart engineering and a twin sequential turbocharger for added spooling. RX7 has a sports-tuned chassis, a manual transmission, and a limited-slip differential for better traction. Rear-wheel power keeps you engaged at the corners once you slide and give you complete control over its powerhouse.

Engine: 13B-REW 1.3L rotary engine with twin sequential turbochargers.

Price: $4,500 for a stock RX7 in good condition. Price increases substantially with one-off editions coming onto the list.

Maintenance: Rotary engines are prone to failures and oil leaks. Be prepared to pay up to $1,200 or more in maintenance and repairs.

Insurance: $900 for annual coverage.

10. Mazda RX8

The younger sibling of RX7 is also on the list, it is modern, has better technology, and an extremely intuitive to drive. It has a 1.3L twin rotary engine, rear-wheel drive powertrain, and an optional 6-speed manual transmission. It produces 250 bhp, has a limited-slip differential and stylish rear scissor doors. With the latest tech, sturdier build quality, and smart engineering, RX8 is a perfect machine for drifting, with just 1250 KGs of body weight.

Engine: 1.3L RENESIS twin rotary engine

Price: Quite economical prices with demand lowering these days, $4,000 – 6000

Maintenance: Be very careful with the rotary or get a 2GZ-gte swap for tension-free sliding. Expect to spend a sum of $1,200 or more on your stock RX8.

Insurance: $800-1000 for a year.

11. Lexus IS200

Another member from the Toyota family, the Lexus IS200 aka Altezza. Powered by a 2.0L engine, 5-speed manual, a classy and comfortable interior, and superbly weighted chassis, the IS200 is fun to throw around corners and drift on the track. It was engineered by the developer of the Toyota AE86 and you can judge by those standards, it is extremely fun to drive and luxurious as well. Make sure to get your hands on a neat car that would last quite long without breaking down.

Engine: 1G-FE BEAMS 2.0L engine that produces 160 HP.

Price: $2,000

Maintenance: Like every other Japanese car, it is easy and economical to maintain, with a yearly cost of $700.

Insurance: $550 per year.

Also read: 3 Best Mercedes for Amazing Drifting

12. Infiniti G35

We have another Nissan product on this Nissan-dominated list, an upscale version of the Z platform, the Infiniti G35 coupe. Powered by a splendid 3.5L V6 engine producing 280 HP, it is a premium car to drive and drift. With optional rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential, and a manual tranny, its luxurious cabin should keep you thrilled as well as engaged on the bends. Infiniti G35 could be your great first drifting car and wouldn’t let you down with its performance and durability.

Engine: VQ35DE 3.5L V6

Price: $3,500

Maintenance: You’re covered with a range of technicians having superb knowledge and experience of tuning Nissan cars. $ 700-800 should keep you on road for a year.

Insurance: $700 a year.