Japanese Drift Cars
A cult classic in Japan’s tuning and drifting scenes, this easy-to-modify JDM turbocharged speed demon even dominates Tsukuba Circuit lap times. What a car!
Powerful, comfortable and easy to modify into a mean drifting machine, the handsome Nissan Laurel is a JDM model sought after by car lovers and serious tuners.
Some of the Favorites
- Nissan Silvia and 180SX
- The Heavies (Chaser, Supra, Soarer, Skyline, Laurel)
- The Toyota AE-86 Levin / Trueno
If you want to buy a good second hand drift car, turbo or N/A, and import it to the UK, like our happy customer here:
then Japan is your paradise market.
I’m not saying that used drift cars are silly cheap in Japan. Drifting is a very popular motor sport here and, judging from the skill of the drifters I see up at Fuji Speedway (not far from my house), the Japanese drift guys are good at it. Very good.
So there is a strong market for drift cars in Japan, but: there are also good deals to be had if you want to import a Nissan Silvia (S13, S14, or S15) or Nissan 180SX, or Laurel; a Toyota Supra or Soarer or Mark II, or any of the other very suitable rear wheel drive high power cars available here. And you’ll find good deals at the Japanese car auctions, from the Japanese dealers, and from private sales here. As a Japan-based used car exporter we deal in all these markets.
Now drift cars, and especially turbo drift cars, are a bit of a special market in the second hand car buying world. There are risks associated with them and there is some trash out there that guys have banged up cracked up and hacked up and that they want to flog off on some unsuspecting fellow overseas.
So, RULE NUMBER 1 about buying a second hand drift car is:
Get it inspected before you buy it, or only buy it from a reputable dealer that you have dealt with before. (We can arrange inspections for you and, if the car is in our area, we go and inspect it ourselves.)
RULE NUMBER 2:
No matter how well the car is inspected there will be something wrong with it. Drifting, like nearly all motor sports, is hard on a car, and part of being in motor sport is giving your ride the maintenance it needs. Yes, even fire-breathing, wheel-spinning, turbo monster drift cars need some Tender Loving Care (TLC). So the purpose of the inspection is not to find a perfect second hand drift car, but to exclude any drift cars that are obvious disasters.
RULE NUMBER 3:
It’s worth it. The thrill of drifting machine made and modified for drifting is FUN INCORPORATED. Like these guys were having at Fuji Speedway a few weeks back.
And what are the best drift cars available in Japan? What are the Kings of Drift? I can’t cover all of them in this article, but let’s look at one of the best, the Nissan Silvia, and we’ll then look at some of the others in future write ups.
The Nissan Silvia (and its blood brother, the Nissan 180SX) are an acknowledged standard, a bench mark, against which other drift cars are measured. (The other real benchmark being Toyota Levin / Trueno FT-86, the famous “Hachi-Roku.”)
The three generations of Silvia are the S13
which was in production from May of 1988 to October of 1993;
which as in production from October of 1993 to until January of 1999;
and the S15 (the “Ichi-Go”)
Which was in production from January of 1999 to January of 2002.
The Nissan 180SX
which was in production from April 1989 to 1998 (I don’t have the final month of production.) shared much the same underpinnings with the S13 Silvia, but has more of a, how shall I say….space ship, jet fighter body.
All of these cars are excellent drift machines because they are RWD, have a high power to weight ratio (especially the turbos), and are all somewhat nose heavy.
But the power and weight distribution are not the only reasons the Silvia and 180SX are such good drift cars. Paradoxically as it may sound, there are good drift cars because they are popular as drift cars. What I mean is, because they are so well liked by drifters, there are many tuning and modification options available for the Silvia and 180SX, and this makes them even better choices if you want to buy a drift car.
A further advantage of the S13, S14, S15 and 180SX over, say, the bigger drift machines like a Mark II, or Laurel, or Aristo, is that the four cylinder engine of the Silvia is cheaper to tune when you get into serious engine builds. Two cylinders less than the bigger guys’ straight sixes. (But those big hogs have their own advantages that we’ll look at later in this series.)
So if you want to buy a good second hand drift car, the Nissan Silvia and the Nissan 180SX should maybe be your first port of call. Certainly they should be high on your list of potential drift cars when you are thinking of buying a car online from Japan (from the Japanese used car auctions or from the dealers) to import to the UK.
Matthew at JCD is the man. I’ve now imported three of my own cars through him. JCD was able to accommodate my unique needs, everything from short turn around inspections,... read moreChan Shin7/29/2022
I highly recommend Japan Car Direct. They help you find exactly what you are looking for and are with you throughout the entire process. Import was seamless. Mike was great... read moreSir Selrahc7/14/2022
Before this I have never imported any vehicles to NZ let alone one from Japan! I decided to give these guys a shot and bought a JDM Tesla into the... read moreEdward Yuan7/11/2022
Great experience. Extremely easy process and Kept me well informed. Highly recommend them if looking to purchase a vehicle from Japan.Antonio Sevilla7/08/2022
It's hard to say anything that hasn't been said from other reviewers! This was my first experience importing a vehicle. Mike Nguyen was super patient with me and my indecisiveness.... read moreLaw_of_the Za6/30/2022
I used Japan Car Direct's services to import a Nissan Silvia from Japan to Australia. Mike was very helpful from start to finish and definitely made the process stress free.
The... read morematthew martin6/24/2022
Just picked up my car that I bought through JCD. I was a complete newbie about buying a car overseas and Mathew was kind enough to basically hold my... read moreTK Mad6/18/2022
I worked with Mathew on getting my first Japanese Kei truck. The process and communication were great. For me the back-and-forth communication was the reason why I decided to go... read moreJohn Penny6/12/2022
Taylor at JCD has been incredibly helpful in my search for a couple of unique rigs from overseas -- We've scored one, and are looking forward to finding another.
Taylor's professinoalism,... read morecamden lindsay5/31/2022
After seeing quite a few Kei Trucks on the road, I was intrigued. Seeing the local retail prices gave me sticker shock, so I immediately thought there has to be... read moreChris Okano5/24/2022
Can't fault these guys - this was the first time I've bought a car at any auction, let alone one in Japan. The support from Yoshiro was brilliant, very patient... read morePhil Stebbing4/14/2022
Japan Car Direct helped me find my dream car. We found a great deal on an ST205. Yoshiro was fantastic and super responsive and patient with all of my questions.... read moreBrandon Moore4/11/2022
So pleased with our companies new Japanese mini-truck import. Japan Car Direct made it all too easy. We made a few first-timer mistakes on the paperwork but the next import... read moreMARKNADEN Studio4/08/2022
Great dependable business! Highly recommended! Thank you Mathew for all your hard work!Dmitri Gordei3/30/2022
Yoshiro and the folks over at JapanCarDirect are the best! They were super helpful with my first time importing a vehicle to the US and were quick to answer all... read moreMike McD3/20/2022