I’ll be honest right from the outset – I’m not the biggest drifting enthusiast.
I can appreciate the talent, and good drifting is certainly an art form … but the closest I’ve come to living out the “Initial D” dream is when I spun out my old Mazda Sentia on a wet roundabout one morning on the way to work.
However, as the Garage Dreams editor responsible for ‘Car Facts’ (where we answer your burning car questions) I am duty bound to answer whatever the public wants to know.
I’ve been writing a few articles recently that answer common questions about the Nissan 300ZX, and today’s edition of Car Facts continues with that theme.
Today’s question is whether or not the 300ZX makes a good drift car.
If you want to get sideways, should you buy a 300ZX to get the job done?
I’ve researched the key points you need to know, and presented them below so you don’t have to do the research yourself!
You Can Drift A 300ZX
At the end of the day, the 300ZX is a rear wheel drive car with ample power (particularly in twin turbo guise). These cars came with a manual transmission – if specified that way – as well as an LSD. The wheelbase of the 300ZX is neither too long nor too short to make drifting impossible.
Therefore, the basic components are there – it’s as simple as that.
You can definitely drift a 300ZX … so don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t. If you’ve got a 300ZX/JDM Fairlady and want to shred up those back tyres, then find a safe place to do so and fill your boots.
Here are some videos showing the 300ZX in action, getting sideways.
But is the 300ZX a good drift car? Most enthusiasts seem to agree that while it is more than capable of drifting, it isn’t a great choice of specific drift car.
If you are on the market for a drift-specific car (I.e. you’re looking to buy a 300ZX solely for the purpose of drifting) then is it a good choice?
Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Disable 4WS If You Have It
Some 300ZXs came with four wheel steering (typically twin turbo models) with the system being called ‘HICAS’ – High Capacity Active Steering.
If you have HICAS/4WS on your 300ZX, you’ll want to disable or bypass this before drifting, otherwise you will be fighting with your car around every bend.
You can learn more here about disabling HICAS/4WS on your 300ZX.
Decent, Not Great
The 300ZX has the potential to be a decent drift car. With modifications, it can be a good one for sure.
But as it rolled out of the factory, the 300ZX is not great for drifting – at least not compared to more typical drift car choices.
Here are some of the factors working against the 300ZX being a good drift car:
- Price – A drift car is inherently going to get beat on. While the prices of popular drift cars like the Nissan Silvia (anything in that family) have risen, they don’t seem to have climbed as aggressively the 1990s Japanese “hero cars” like the 300ZX, Toyota Supra MK4, Mazda RX-7 etc. With the 300ZX being an appreciating modern classic, you don’t necessarily want to go and pay over the odds to get one only to use it for a purpose for which it was never really made. This point is purely subjective, of course, and your budget may be sufficiently generous to mean that the relatively higher price of the 300ZX versus other potential drift cars is not an issue.
- Chassis – Many popular drift cars are popular because their chassis’ are easy to work on and modify in order to achieve better configurations for drifting. The 300ZX chassis is not known for being particularly easy to work on.
- Body shape – The 300ZX is a “squat” car, relatively wide compared to its length and designed for stability around corners, especially with wide rear tyres that assist with the car gripping the road. It doesn’t have the best setup for drifting, with drift cars typically being less ‘square-like’. The 300ZX is built like a postage stamp, whereas popular drift cars are typically built like cigars. Because of the way the 300ZX is designed, it can’t achieve such steep steering angles as more popular drift cars either, at least not without modification or expert driving.
- Weight – The 300ZX is a heavy car compared to many popular drift cars. Although you can definitely drift a heavy car, it can be more challenging – and dropping weight with the 300ZX isn’t the easiest.
Follow The Crowd
I know that we are all supposed to be unique and special (and we all are in our own ways) but if you want an easy route into getting a drift car, then you’re probably better off “following the crowd” and looking at some of Nissans other vehicles, like the Silvia, 180SX, 200SX, or even an RWD Skyline.
There is a reason these cars are popular for drifting – they are just better suited to it than the 300ZX.
As mentioned, you can definitely drift a 300ZX but the “wisdom of the crowd” shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Conclusion – Does The 300ZX Make A Good Drift Car?
Yes, and no.
You can definitely drift the 300ZX. I’ve shared multiple videos in this article showing it be done.
However, the 300ZX is not an ideal drift car.
It’s heavy, the steering angle is wrong from the factory, and the car was built to maintain stability and traction at high speeds. Some have also complained that the 300ZX has a tendency to overheat when being drifted.
With prices rising quickly on the 300ZX (especially on good condition or higher spec cars) you are also getting to the price point where you really need to consider whether or not you’d be comfortable with spending the asking price, only to beat your purchase up going sideways around a racetrack. This question is purely one of personal preference … but if I were looking for a drift car I’d rather find something less expensive to start with.
One final point to remember is that one of the most important factors in what makes a good drift car is driver skill. A skilled drifter will be able to make a stock 300ZX dance better than an average driver will be able to drift a purpose built 180SX (or vice versa).
If you want to drift your 300ZX, then go out there and fill your boots – and have fun doing so. However, if you’re looking to purchase a 300ZX specifically for the purpose of drifting, there are other cars you might want to consider first.
What do you think about the 300ZX being a good drift car? Leave your comment below – it would be great to hear from you.
If you’re thinking of buying a 300ZX – for drifting or for any other purpose – then make sure that you check out our 300ZX buyer’s guide and model history here for more information on this legendary car.