An Analysis of Drift Car Style (by a Simpleton)

What makes cool drift cars cool?

Drift Indy events never fail to draw in quite a few very stylish rides. Jordan Tippmann and Coy Pendleton's Laurels are a couple of my personal favorites, and that got me thinking about why I like them so much.

Jordan Tippmann's laurel

What's not to like about this car?

Spotify has decided to near-exclusively recommend me rap featuring strings and/or brass instruments and that got me thinking: Still Tippin' and its string refrain might just make a great analogy for drift car style. 

I'd wager I'm not alone in wishing that car manufacturers would return to the angularity of 70s, 80s and early 90s cars, and I think concept cars like the Hyundai N Vision 74 show that at least some of the big wigs are taking note of public nostalgia for the blockiness of yesteryear. 

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. At the heart of it all, I reckon drifting is cool because it's fun to see cars doing stuff they weren't originally designed to do. Maybe my Still Tippin' metaphor is starting to make sense? If not, I'll explain it this way: Whoever invented the violin or its predecessors however many hundreds of years ago didn't do it so that Mike Jones could rap over a beat that featured them. The designers of the Nissan Laurel intended for it to be a comfortable, refined passenger car; not to drag their bumpers across walls in Ohio. In both cases, though, the end result is pretty damn cool.

It's just been within the past decade or so that cars have started including things like "drift modes." I'll be straight up in saying that, to me, that kind of thing is a little lame. Sure, bringing the joys of rear-wheel drive, albeit faux rear-wheel drive, to the masses is cool, but why not just give folks legit rear-wheel drive? 

Anyways, that's beside the point. The vast majority of cars people are throwing sideways around tracks and parking lots don't have some magic drift button, and they weren't designed to slide. Harking back to the Top Gear (UK of course) days, the guys were almost always bored by the cars that just did what they were designed to as efficiently as possible. Would I love to drive an R35? Sure. Would I probably rather drive something that I can easily whip some donuts in or throw sideways around a corner? Yes.

Now, back to the business of Kil-kare's host of certified style kings. There are a few things that the cleanest whips do to stand out from the sea of 350Zs and beat 240s.

First, you've gotta be low. This is non-negotiable. 

"I can't go lower or I'll rub!"

No one cares. Nothing about drifting is healthy for your car. Might as well chew up some fender liners while you're banging redline and sending your clutch to hell.

Second, not all aero is created equal.

Sure, I could go buy some universal canards at Autozone and slap them on my Legacy, but would it look cool? Hell no. It's all about finding a balance as well as something that compliments the original shape of your car, whatever wheel setup you're running and what you're planning on doing in said car. In this case, that's obviously drifting.

Naturally, much of the coolest aero in drifting draws on Japanese influences, regardless of the nationality of the make of the car. Old-school J-styled cars are some of my personal favorites at any event, despite my euro allegiances. 

Cool white 240

You can't not get excited to see clean, relatively simple builds like this.

Third, paint, wraps and liveries can be very cool, but they don't always work in a car's favor. Before you print a vinyl sticker of your favorite anime waifu to slap on your holo-chrome-two-tone whatever wrapped car, maybe have one of your more artistically-inclined pals give you a second opinion. 

B-wagg's 240

Good livery and good color is good.

Luckily, Drift Indy has managed to end up with plenty of tasteful liveries and color choices. It's been a ton of fun to watch everybody building their cars up over time, and I'm sure this offseason will produce some cool-ass new builds. 

At the end of the day, it's your whip and you can do what you want with it. If you need some tips, just take a look at who's consistently making it into the Street League main event.

For me, my favorite drift cars are always the grocery-getter-turned-smoke-machine. The boxier the better. Coupes and verts are very cool in their own right too, obviously. Style is subjective, but we can all tell when the pieces come together to make something really sick.