The idea of daily driving your drift car isn’t one unique to you; lots of people have wanted to do it! Being young and naïve makes this decision much easier to commit to, though. I personally daily drove my 1995 Nissan 240SX with a semi-gutted interior, no climate control or radio, and with a 1-way limited-slip differential.
So, is it possible to daily drive your drift car? Yes, it absolutely is. Do you have to re-learn how to drive on the road? In a way, yes. And will others approve of your decision to drive your drifter everywhere? WHO CARES?! You’re the one driving it, you can make the decision!
However, there are many nuances to driving a drift car on the road, especially if you have a car with quirks, such as being slammed, a turbocharged car, or a welded differential. My second 240 had all three of these qualities, making it more difficult to daily. I still did it, though, and learned a lot doing it! Here is my opinion on daily driving your drift car, the risks, the rewards, and how to do it safely.
(If you just want to read my personal experiences in daily driving not one, not two, but FOUR drift cars, skip to #5!)
1) The Risks of Daily Driving Your Drift Car
A lot of the risk in daily driving a drift car is in damaging the components of it. Like an F1 car, these machines were made to be beat on, and can run poorly if not driven properly. Say you’re driving an RX-8 or RX-7, those rotary engines are known to gunk up with massive carbon deposits if you don’t regularly take them to redline. With my first 240, taking it right from driving to idle would gum it up. My second 240 would go flat if you weren’t on the throttle hard.
The engines aren’t the only parts of a drift car that are prone to failure during street driving. If you have a welded differential in your car, or a very aggressive limited-slip one, then taking turns becomes quite the endeavor. Depending on how your differential was welded, you may or may not be able to coast around turns without jumping.
All of that stress caused by a differential being locked (making the wheels attempt to spin at the same speed, on different radii of a turn. More info on the different types of differentials) is spread throughout the driveline, and even to some chassis parts. I’ve had some really bad experiences with my welded differentials, including (but not limited to) shearing all the studs off my hub (pulling out of a parking lot), snapping a control arm (drifting), not to mention tons of times I’ve fished out in the rain just driving normally.
1a) Watch Out For Other Drivers
These are just the negative impacts on yourself, but I’ve also gotten plenty of complaints from my neighbors, starting my straight-piped drift car at 6 in the morning. It got so bad, I considered pushing the car down the block before starting it! If you are able to keep your car in a garage, that should at least help with sound during initial startup. That doesn’t help when it comes to cops, though. Cars that are very clearly modified are cop magnets, and there’s a plethora of modifications you may have and not know are illegal.
Usually a cop will leave you alone after a few miles of driving nicely, but there are some very persistent cops out there that will follow you for a long time. There are even some that will pull you over just on account of your car modifications. You can never be too careful when driving a heavily modified car, especially with the police.
However, the police aren’t your biggest concern. Your biggest concern should be other people on the road. Always drive like you’re a target. Almost everyone’s first reaction to seeing something cool or unique on the road is to stare at it. That inevitably takes their eyes, and their focus, off the road. If they’re staring at your car, then they don’t see that obvious bend in the road up ahead, or the red light you’re downshifting for. What’s worse, is when you drive, you go where you’re looking. If they’re looking at your car… that’s where they’re going. Beware of other drivers lane drifting into you, or people not slowing down for a stop sign, things of that sort.
2) The Rewards of Daily Driving Your Drift Car
Now we’re at the part you wanted to read, the rewards! Now, the first reward that comes to mind is the enjoyment of driving something you love. If you built your own drift car, you know how much you love that machine. Could you ever be that happy driving a generic daily driver, like a Prius? Of course not! Prius drivers are happy for different reasons (they keep people safe by slowing traffic down at least 10mph lol), but for someone who gets off to the adrenaline high of drifting, a Prius just doesn’t give that feeling.
Being able to stick your foot to the floor in your drift car, though.. Having the ability to fish it out whenever you want, marking your territory with two strips of rubber on the road? That feeling is absolutely priceless! The biggest benefit for me, though, was that daily driving my Crossfire gave me the courage to drift it, and the experience to feel when something was wrong. That didn’t stop me from putting it into a curb at 30 and shattering the rear sub-frame, but that’s just part of the fun, right? (Don’t worry, I sourced parts and fixed her up and had her driving within a week)
2a) Feeling What Your Car Needs
If you daily your car, you can get used to the noises that your car makes under power, on deceleration, all the vital feelings to know whether something is wrong with it. If you’re in the middle of a track day, and your car starts to develop a rhythmic *thump* and begins jumping around, that’s a common enough noise to know you probably have a flat tire. However, what if your engine starts knocking? Is it something simple, like your oil dipstick getting loose and tapping on the block? Or did you spin a rod bearing? How about when your car has a high-pitched whine when you let off the throttle? Is your transmission going out *cough*Subaru*cough*? Maybe your center driveline support bearing is overheating? Or is it as simple as having a blowoff valve set wrong, and that’s boost slowly escaping.
Once you drive your car enough, you’ll also be able to feel how the engine pulls, whether it’s running right or too rich/lean, things of the sort. You can also feel the body roll in your car, the weight transfer from front to rear, and whether your suspension needs tuning. All of these factors don’t matter too much on the road (besides it running properly), but are vital to have correct at the track. Being able to have the car tuned to perfection before you even get there will lead to less time in the pits for adjustments, and more time having fun on the track!
3) My Experiences Daily Driving Drift Cars
Like I said before, I’ve daily driven four cars I drifted: a 2004 Chrysler Crossfire, a 2003 Honda S2000, a 1995 240SX, and a 1991 240SX. Each one of these was a drift car at its own level. I wasn’t into drifting at all before these four cars. They also all had their fair share of problems, but I still loved driving them. I got more and more hardcore with the first three, and a little less so with the ’91. Each one also taught me new aspects of how to daily drive a drift car. (And yes, I named every car)
3a) Chrysler Crossfire, Alora
(Alora means “Gives Shocks” in Tamil)
This was really my first actual sports car, since an old Porsche 944 doesn’t really count lol. I actually traded that straight-up for this car (It’s a long story, but I actually got all these cars for free). Nevertheless, this car got me into “the art of aiming your car at a wall… and missing it completely”. That’s better known as “drifting”. While it didn’t have a limited slip differential, it did have semi-bald tires, and I drove this car through the winter. There was plenty of snow on the ground, meaning a massive lack of traction. Even without a limited slip differential, I was able to fish it out. Even if it was just to impress my girlfriend at the time, I began to do it more and more.
The car even sounded amazing, with a Megan Racing full exhaust. By no means was this a quiet car, but it wasn’t very fast either, being only 200HP and weighing almost 3000lbs. She still pulled well enough to put a smile on my face, and was a nice car to learn to drive stick in (which ironically, test driving this car was my *first* time driving stick!). She still had all the creature comforts of a normal daily driver, from AC and heat to defrosters and butt warmers. It was just a tease of the drifting world, but I loved it. Well, until I put her in a curb at 30. I bent the rim, broke a couple control arms, and shattered the rear subframe. It took me just a week to get her back on her feet, and I almost immediately sold her after that.
3b) Honda S2000, Tookie
I had a taste of drifting, but this was the real deal. I had a limited slip differential, a high-strung engine, and a light frame. With a little less torque and a lot more horsepower, the S2000 rocketed to 60 in under 5 seconds. Leaps and bounds faster than the Crossfire, where the best I could manage was mid 6s. The only caveat was that I bought the S before I sold the Crossfire, so she stayed in storage for a majority of the winter. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have some fun sliding her around where she was stored though 😉 . The same day I sold the Crossfire, I insured and transferred the plates to the S2000. There was a little snow still left in the season, so I had a chance to get used to how she handled sideways.
I’m not exaggerating when I say the biggest problem I had with this car was finding a place to fit a jack under it. The engine was replaced 20k miles ago, along with the transmission. The coilovers were set perfectly for sliding. All I had to do was change the oil regularly, and I had a super reliable, fun car. She had less comfort items than the Crossfire did, and certainly less room, but I still made do. This was my first car I could drift during the summer, and by god I drifted it!
3c) ’95 240SX, Starry Night
HOLY CULTURE SHOCK. Going from driving the S2000 (a semi-mild car) to driving this monster was insane. I actually traded the S for this car, just like the 944 for the Crossfire. Driving this car was an absolute blast, and nightmare, in one. Cops were on this car like ho’s on Santa, people would lane drift while staring, the whole 9 yards. Not to mention how low this car was, you had to be a contortionist to get in! Once you were in, though.. The four-point harness kept you locked into the Bride bucket seat. The back seats were removed, so there was room for backpacks back there. There was no radio, AC, heat, or any creature comforts. The closest thing to a comfort was the automatic sunroof!
There was some work to be done, which leads to my first issue: Exhaust fumes. All the gaskets on the exhaust side of the engine were shot. The turbo was cranked to max in order to still provide boost with the leaks. I’m surprised it hadn’t blown, if I’m being honest. That was two days’ worth of repairs, but relatively easy once the exhaust and turbo manifolds were out. I had to re-teach myself how to drive, because of the differential. I was told when I got the car that it was welded, but that wasn’t true. The kid I got it from didn’t know what he had at all. The differential was, in fact, a one-way LSD. The car would jump just like a welded diff under power, but when you were coasting, it would be smooth.
The easiest way to deal with this for slow-speed turns was to gun it straight. Then once you had speed, push in the clutch and coast through the turn.
3d) ’91 240SX, No Name Yet
After selling Starry Night, I missed having a 240. I was driving a WRX at the time, and was very sad I couldn’t drift it. I blew out the center diff on that car just driving it normally, so I’m really glad I didn’t try drifting it lol. This was my chance to get into another drift car, though. This one came from six hours away, and I drove it the whole way home. There was some body patching done to it, and the rear bumper was cracked up a bit, but my body guy took care of it. This car actually *did* have a welded differential in it, making it much harder to drive than my cars before it. There was no avoiding the skidding, as my driveway is a right angle off the street.
This car’s claim to fame is the issue I mentioned earlier, when I sheared off all the studs on the right rear hub. Actually replacing the parts wasn’t a problem, but what was a problem was the fact that I was stuck in the middle of a busy street. I needed to get this car out of the street, and I couldn’t move it on three wheels! I didn’t have a jack that would fit under the car, either. My father had to come out to where I was, bring a low-profile jack, and help me out of the street. We stuck the jack under the frame on the rear right, and lifted it off the ground. From there, we drove the car into a parking lot on a floor jack. Let me tell you, I’ve never been more nervous driving a car!
We got it in the lot, and left it there for the night (with the business’ permission). I came back the next day, and punched out the old studs, putting new ones in.
4) Don’t Let Me Make Your Decision
If you’re ready to make that leap, to commit to driving your slammed turbo 350z to work every day, then go for it! If you’re coming to me for an answer though, then put some serious thought into it. This is a big decision. Are you willing to risk your baby? Anything could happen to your car while you aren’t there. Taking that risk is up to you. I took it, and haven’t regretted it ever since. Are you ready to make that change?