The rc drift car is fast becoming one of the most popular cars in the rc world. Drifting is the art of making your entire car go sideways. By this, I mean that as your rear tires lose traction in a high speed turn, you steer into the skid and the front tires pull the front end in the same direction, making the entire rc car go sideways. You can buy rc cars already set up for drifting such as the Sprint 2 Drift car from HPI, or you can customize any 4 wheel drive on-road touring type car to drift. Here is the basic set up plus some options.
A 4 wheel drive rc car is a necessity in order to get the front going sideways like the rear and to prevent looping. Electric rc cars are preferable because of their lighter weight and motor durability. Nitro rc engines are more likely to suffer damage due to over revving the motor when the tires lose traction and start spinning.
RC drift cars use special hard rubber tires that lose traction easier than normal tires. However, the cost of about $50 for a set of 4 tires is a bit expensive and has prompted many hobbiest to devise alternative methods. One of the most popular and cheapest options is the use of 2" pvc pipe which is cut the width of the wheel and pressed on between two boards in a vise. PVC also outlasts the hard drift car tires. Note: You'll need drift tires or the customized PVC tires on ALL 4 wheels in order to drift.
Suspension (optional for most cars)
Most rc cars come out of the box with adequate suspension characteristics. However, the stiffer the suspension, the easier the car loses traction. So, if you want to experiment with the suspension, try using different shock oil weights and stiffer springs for a tighter suspension.
Some electric rc cars
may come with an inadequate motor for drifting. A balance between speed (top end) and torque (acceleration power) is needed. A modified, high performance 17 turn motor delivers the right amount of torque and speed needed to get those tires spinnin' and keep 'em spinnin'. The number of turns in an electric motor refers to the number of times the wire is wrapped around the armature. A lower number of turns produces higher top end speed. You'll also need to make sure your ESC (Electronic Speed Control) is rated to handle it. It should be rated to handle a lower number of motor turns than what you have. For example, a 12 turn ESC is an excellent compliment for a 17 turn motor while allowing for future upgrades. Expect to spend around $40 for the motor which is a fairly cheap upgrade.
Drive Train (optional-for electric cars with ball differentials)
An optional trick that'll help is to get your front and rear differential gears locked up so that all 4 wheels spin, instead of the limited slip action which tends to try to cancel one of the tires from spinning. To do this, take some small pieces of paper towel and wad it up and stuff it inside the front and rear differentials to keep the spider gears from slipping. Of course, this will require some tinkering, but this little trick has the effect of making a 4WD into an AWD (all wheel drive) which gives longer lasting drift performance.
RTR Drift Cars
The populartiy of drift cars has prompted manufacturers HPI to make RTR drift cars and kits as well. So, if you want to get started drifting sooner, consider a car already set up for it.