In contrast to the classic racing which some may find boring, drifting is all about going sideways, burning rubber and not hitting the apex and the exit of every corner. With that in mind, drifting not only looks spectacular but it’s also extremely fun. However, while you can race almost any car, drifting limits you to rear-wheel drive machinery.

Toyota Corolla AE86

The AE86 Corolla is the most legendary car of the early drift scene, and it has been immortalized in automotive pop culture. Thanks to its on-track success and Initial-D, the AE86 became an instant JDM classic, and as such, prices of unmolested examples are on the rise. Luckily for beginner drifters, there are still obtainable examples, perhaps even second hand drift projects which could be yours for a reasonable sum. The AE86 is a perfectly balanced car to learn on, although expect a slightly rough around the edges example.

BMW 3 Series

Everyone who has ever driven a BMW close to the limits felt its tail end going sideways, so it’s safe to say these German sport sedans have all the necessary factors for you to enter the world of drifting. Whatever engine you choose, you’ll be going sideways in no time, and for affordability reasons, it’s best to go for the e36, e46 or e90 generations of the 3 Series.

The older models are more simple and easier to maintain than the e90 3 Series, but all of them are a fantastic foundation for every aspiring drifter. Also, when you master your skills, any of the mentioned 3 Series cars are excellent to modify further.

Fox Body Mustang

Fox Body Mustangs might not seem like the best cars for learning how to drift, but a combination of rear wheel drive and a heavy V8 engine is the key factor which makes them prone to going sideways. During their fifteen years of production, over two million and a half of these cars were sold, so you won’t have any problems finding just the one, and there’s also an abundance of affordable aftermarket parts. Just make sure to find the Windsor V8 powered 5.0 Mustang and you’ll be good to go!

Porsche 924

This front-engined Porsche is dirt cheap, and it’s also rear-wheel drive which makes it an ideal car for thrashing it around while trying to perfect the art of the drift. These unloved Porsches still have enough power to put you in tail-happy motion, and they are pretty light cars, so that makes them ideal for your drifting practice. These cars weren’t particularly fast, but they handled well when they were new, and that’s the combination you should always consider when deciding to learn how to drift.

Nissan 240SX

This Nissan coupé is definitely a legend of drifting and it’s still a fairly affordable rear-wheel drive car. You can find them in all states and make them your drift car projects fairly easily, as they are very reliable, tuning-friendly and easy to maintain. The more affordable alternative could be the 200SX, but what you really want is the 240, which can still be found for an affordable sum. A vast choice of aftermarket parts are available, so you could easily continue building this car as you progress and brush up your drifting skills.

Mazda Miata

Perhaps the ultimate car for you to learn to drift is the good ol’ Miata. A starter car for any enthusiast and the answer to so many automotive questions, the Miata really has it all. It’s a reasonably priced car with the engine in the front, rear-wheel drive and enough power to get its compact body sideways. Proper maintenance is affordable, and the aftermarket support is huge, so the MX-5 is definitely the car to consider if you wish to start driving sideways.

BMW 1 Series

If you want a slightly newer car to learn about rear wheel drive balance, the BMW 1 series is a great choice. With a range of engines from 120hp to 300hp, there is a great selection to choose from. For beginners, the 116i or 118i would be great as they are cheap, plentiful and reliable.

The larger engined cars are still too expensive to consider drifting yet, so possibly in a few years. There are loads of diesels too, although they wouldn’t lend themselves to skidding so well. Still, if you’re after a small, rear wheel drive, manual car, this would be an awesome choice.

Mercedes C Class Manual

It might seem like a strange choice but the Mercedes C Class is actually rear wheel drive, manual and if you choose right, petrol. The C180 Kompressor makes for a weird but ideal option if you’re looking at drifting for a couple of grand. You’re most likely to get the 1.8 litre, 143 horsepower engine for this price bracket but that’s perfect for learning. A welded diff and some lowered suspension would make this an interesting and capable beginner drift car!