I see this question all the time so I figure I’d post about it! Warning, as usual, this is an opinion and also based in the USA. Where things like skylines are hard to come by. Here’s the basic diagram.
The diagram is a fairly loose decision tree. First criteria being budget and second criteria being the cost and ease of modding. If a car is cheap to buy as a chassis but is difficult to mod, it falls more on the right of the diagram. For instance, SC300/SC400s are rare to find manual (400s don’t even come manual). So the cost of an SC400 might be low, but the added cost of adding the third pedal can be pricey. The iconic AE86 falls more on the right side as parts are getting harder to find an so are shells. The same can be said for the S13/S14 but the parts are still relatively cheap so it falls more left.
Cars that will not drift:
Cars that will drift but you probably shouldn’t:
Trucks (S10s, I’m looking at you)
Dodge viper (well, if you got the cash)
Mid engine Porches
My friend with a (FWD/AWD/automatic/truck/etc) can drift! Why can’t I get one of those?
Most race tracks won’t allow trucks/AWD. Automatics don’t let you clutch kick or pick your rpm band. FWD cars can “ass drag” and sometimes make good drifts but those are exceptions.
What about X car? It’s RWD!
If it’s manual and RWD, it’ll drift. It’s just about money at that point. The diagram above is the most common drift cars.
I’m a poor college student, what should I pick?
My personal suggestion is any of the BMWs you can afford as most are cheap to mod and sometimes come with LSDs from the factory. Second choice is S chassis (S13/S14) but their base prices are going up. Miatas are a good choice if you think you’re a great driver and can handle a short wheel base.
I’ve got $10Gs to spend on drifting. I want a 350z! What do Yoshi?
That amount of money in an S13 would make a great all around drift car. That much in a stock 350z will not allow you any money to mod it. Spend your budget on the whole car, not just entry into it. You should not be drifting a car you are making payments on.
Ok, I picked a car! What mods do I do?
In this order: Suspension > Wheels and tires > Locking diff > Bucket seat. Of course you want to refresh the engine and cooling system first. Things like strut bars and short shifters are a waste of money until the mods listed are done. That includes power mods!