When I was first getting into drifting the idea of drifting anything RWD was obscure and silly. It was Corolla’s, S chassis, FC’s and the odd sedan. With the increase in popularity comes variety due to desperation. I was desperate for wheels just before our last event.
Weeks, months? Earlier I had purchased an SC400. It was going to be my missile for the year. I was excited. I’m a massive 1uz fan having a little experience drifting one around it was a great opportunity to jump into a new ride and maybe a step up in the world for myself?
Through some sheer inexperience and idiotic thought, I coached myself out of ownership in lust for older Toyotas. I love them so and quickly I sold off my drifting dreams for a ’76 Corona Mark 2 to cruise around in each day. This loss of drifting and wrenching confidence came back to haunt me later when I was without a drift car for the next event.
As posted earlier in ‘Bessida of the Cressida‘ I purchased an MX63 automatic. It was my new record. Having found out at 7pm the night before that there was an event, I drove up island to pickup this $300 Cressida. Like my previous free mx63 with the roll pan, I knew it was going to slide very well. I managed to sell near the end of the event for $200. Decent price per usage, versus organizational time.
For the next event I was going to have my shit sorted out for a change. Andrew, Emily, Shannon and I slaved away all week in the cold rain to prepare an FC3S for the next event. Toe eliminators, race seat and wheel, cut springs, decent shocks, de-powered steering rack, tie-rod spacers, modded knuckles and a whole bunch of other goodies were swapped into a dying shell. I’m still a little bit embarrassed at my inability to keep up with Andrews great work ethic. Sadly it wasn’t fruitful, with working into the night and finding out the engine we had just built had bad cooling seals, we then tried to prepare a second FC, but it’s rust overcame us at 1am the night before the event and we gave into the cold and accepted warm beds. Again, no drift car.
Desperation breeds solutions and used victoria had some mildly interesting answers. I found myself about an hour and a half before the event, sitting in a 4cylinder manual fiero wondering why the brakes were so seized. The engine ran great, but the e-brake setup from factory was not only left handed, but it used a ratcheting system so when you wanted to enter or exit the vehicle, the handle wasn’t pointed up into your path. I was merely moments away from pulling the envelope from my pocket piled with $250 when I received a return call. With the information I just received I turned down the Fiero.
40 minutes before the event actually started I picked up this Chevy S10 for $400. 5 speed, lowered, with a welded diff. Good enough. Oddly enough I managed to sell it to two different people before I event got to the race track!
Interestingly enough, the truck drove decently. The little 4 cylinder motor was just nice enough with the bit of nose heaviness that it slid decently. If the thing didn’t have a VI on it I would’ve considered keeping it. The atmosphere was good and it was decently responsive to throttle inputs.
There were a few problems, but like any new drift platform, you will have imbalances and obstacles of operation to adjust and overcome. First up, was the seating. All racing vehicles need restrictive seating. Something to keep you flopping out of your seat. At one point I actually fell out of my chair and landed on my passenger while yelling at my feet. More on this.
Secondly, the distances between all three pedals from left to right were great, the height variations were a problem. The brake and clutch were on the same plane, close to each other and obviously placed. The gas pedal however was much, much lower to the floor. When seated in my own seat, directly infront of the pedals the operation was natural and required no thought, but operating the pedals from an angle while leaning out of the seat during a drift, I found myself aiming for the brake from the side. With the height difference, my right foot would come off the gas, and reach for the brake, but miss the pedal and pass directly between the gas and brake pedals to the floor. This frustrated me. So I began tying myself in using an obscure routing of the seat belt wrapped around me and into the passengers buckle to keep me from flopping back and forth. This made a massive improvement to my inputs in the vehicle and my runs began to improve, but the burns on my neck kinda hurt.
Next to overcome was the lack of an e-brake. Originally the truck comes with a foot mounted e-brake, but even if this had been operational, it would’ve been nearly useless. A working handbrake whether hydraulic or cable actuated would’ve made a WORLD of a difference when setting up into corners. Clutch kicks and shift locks do the trick, but arn’t quite as ‘on-off’ as the e-brake is.
Lastly and the biggest flaw with the truck was the steering box. I’ve drifted many a steering box, and frankly I don’t mind them. This trucks caster effect was one of the best I’d driven, the front wheels followed the road direction no matter the wag of the tail. The steering lock was also acceptable, though the light weight rear made it less likely to push forwards at lock when throttling. No, the biggest flaw was the sheer number of turns lock to lock in the truck.
It was nearly 7 turns lock to lock, or something ridiculous like that. When sliding one will often make angle corrections, flaring the wheel towards the inside to tighten up a drift, or let the car wander wide to the outside. These small corrections were much harder work in the S10. Normally these angle adjustments are a half or quarter turn input but the s10 was sometimes nearly an entire rotation. This caused me some learning time to build my reactions to keep the vehicle sliding. You would feel the back begin to grip up, turn the wheel in a little harder, and still have the rear grip up. It was surprising at first as seen in the video below. I make a quick Cameo in the video from the interior of the truck, right after the burning wreckage of my previous drift car, courtesy of Dean Chromier Corolla Destroyer. Try and keep an eye on the amount the steering wheel turns!
All in all, for buying a drift car 40 minutes before an event, it turned out decent. By the end of the day, the tailgate was bent and wouldn’t close, the neon lights had fallen off and broken, the stereo had fallen out of the dash, The bed began to sag, and the little motor developed a lovely knock due to some over revving. However, I’d honestly suggest an S10 as a drift car. I found it to have enough potential in some small modifications to slide well and would consider another one. A plus is the many cheaply v8 swapped rat trucks floating around in classifieds, there’s plenty of room for a little bit of work for a drift vehicle. Especially one that seemed to take running into the wall multiple times very well. Here’s how it looked at the end of the day.
80’s Splash Graphics actually splashed on.