The sport of drifting has arrived in the U.S., and it's the latest craze imported from Japan.  Born from the underground street racing scene from mountain roads (called "touge" - TOH-geh) and late-night, deserted industrial zones in Japan, drifting has exploded into the mainsteam, whether positive or not.  Drifting has even permeated mainstream advertising for some of the biggest automotive manufacturers in the world... And the list goes on...

This page will hopefully give you some understanding of one of the fastest growing automotive sports today, and how the FC3S fits into all of this.  This page will focus on competitive and professional drifting of the FC3S.  You don't really "need" anything to drift, but at the level of competitive drifting, the stakes get higher and the competition get tougher.  If you're looking to the D1 type of drifting, hopefully we can offer some tips...

The Chassis
The FC3S regularly makes the top 5 most desirable chassis due to this drift craze.  The Nissan S13 / S14 (SR20DET swap) and Toyota AE86 are two of the top alternative chassis other the then FC3S.  The Nissan S13 are the 180SX / 200SX / Silvia triplets in Japan.  These non-U.S. Nissan models come with turbocharged engine options:  the CA18DET 1.8-liter, single turbo 4-cylinder or the more popular SR20DET 2.0-liter, single turbo 4-cylinder.  Engine swaps into U.S. Nissan 240SX are very popular, as the standard KA24D and KA24DE 2.4 liter 4-cylinder "truck motor" has it's limitations with no standard turbo.  The SR20DET can easily produce 200 to 250hp at the wheels, and increases in power comes relatively easily.

The Toyota AE86 is also the 1985 - 1987 Corolla GT-S in the U.S.  The Corolla GT-S was offered from 1984 in Japan, but it wasn't officially imported into the U.S. until 1985 - one year later.  The AE86 uses the high-revving 4A-GE 1.6-liter, twin cam, 4-cylinder engine.  Although underpowered, the 4AGE manages to make 150hp to the wheels relatively easily when modded, and the relatively light AE86 chassis makes for a competitive power-to-weight ratio.

This is primarily the main competition for the FC3S.  Although the FC3S chassis has an almost perfect 50 / 50 static front-to-rear weight balance, it's low polar moment of inertia makes it a handful to control, especially when drifting; the FC3S tends to spin and oversteer very violently.  To control to low polar moment takes good suspension tuning and a very skilled driver.  It is a lot easier to start with a Nissan S-chassis if you're a beginner, as the higher polar moment of the Nissan S-chassis makes for a slower response when drifting.  The Nissan S-chassis has longer wheelbases, and this makes for a more stable platform; the wheelbase is significantly longer than the FC3S - up to 5 inches.
Drift - FC3S versus S13 / S13 and AE86

The Suspension
In general, you want a very stiff suspension system.  In terms of springs and dampers, there are a lot of coilover systems that are very popular with drift competitions.

Model: Front spring rate: Rear spring rate: Miscllaneous:
N1 Pro 9 kg-mm / 503 lb-in 7 kg-mm / 391 lb-in  
Hypermax D' 8 kg-mm / 447 lb-in 7 kg-mm / 391 lb-in
  • Drift spec
  • Pro 9 kg-mm / 503 lb-in 9 kg-mm / 503 lb-in  
    RA 10 kg-mm / 559 lb-in 8 kg-mm / 447 lb-in  
    HA 8 kg-mm / 447 lb-in 6 kg-mm / 335 lb-in  
    HE 8 kg-mm / 447 lb-in 6 kg-mm / 335 lb-in  
    FLEX 6 kg-mm / 335 lb-in 5 kg-mm / 279 lb-in
  • EDFC compatible
  • JIC
    FLTA2 8 kg-mm 6 kg-mm  
    Comp-S 7 kg-mm 6 kg-mm
  • Front optional spring rates:  6, 8, 9 kg-mm
  • Rear optional spring rates:  5, 7, 8 kg-mm
  • Zero-1 7 kg-mm 6 kg-mm
  • Front optional spring rates:  6, 8, 9 kg-mm
  • Rear optional spring rates:  5, 7, 8 kg-mm
  • Zero-2 7 kg-mm 6 kg-mm
  • Front optional spring rates:  6, 8, 9 kg-mm
  • Rear optional spring rates:  5, 7, 8 kg-mm
  • Zero-2R 7 kg-mm 6 kg-mm
  • Front optional spring rates:  6, 8, 9 kg-mm
  • Rear optional spring rates:  5, 7, 8 kg-mm
  • Standard spring rates are shown.  Most manufacturers offer other springs rates.

    Looking at the above table for spring rates, you'll notice that they are rather high.  Most aftermarket drop-in springs do not go over 200 lb-ft!  This necessitates using a coilover kit or some kinda retrofit coilover system that allows you to use these really high spring rates.  With the high spring rates, shocks need to be matched for them.  Anything over 400 lb-ft would over-oscillate most of the aftermarket drop-in dampers like the Tokico Illumia and the KYB AGX, two of the most popular models for the FC3S.  Koni does offer a front strut insert and rear shock replacement that works well with the higher spring rates; we use them on our 20B FC drift car!

    Anything to stiffening the chassis and the suspension should work.  Strut tower bars are a good idea.  Cusco, GReddy, GAB, and Mazdaspeed are popular brands for strut tower bars.  Energy Suspension offers polyurethane bushing kits; they have a "master kit" or several sub kits.

    Racing Beat, Eibach, Suspension Techniques, Cusco, Mazdaspeed all offers stabilizer bars or more known as anti-sway bars.  Controlling sway makes for better vehicle control when drifting.  With stiffer sway bars, upgrade end links are recommended.  Racing Beat offers upgrade end links with polyurethane inserts.  Mazdatrix also offers spherical bearing end links which react quicker but can be noisier.  The Racing Beat polyurethance end links are a good compromise of performance and streeetability.

    A roll cage is an extreme example of chassis stiffening, but it's usually the ultimate option.  Roll cages can be very involved and most times very expensive.  Done properly, it adds very little weight, but the increase in stiffening is huge!  All competition-level drift vehicles should have a roll cage installed.

    Last but not least, eliminination of the DTSS bushing is highly recommended to get more predictable response from the chassis.  The DTSS eliminator bushings are just a plastic bushing with a steel insert.  Racing Beat is one of the most known vendors of this DTSS eliminator bushings.  The bushing pair is cheap at under $50, but it is very labor intensive to remove and replace them.

    The Engine
    Most of the competitive cars are running in the 300hp to 350hp (to the rear wheels on a DynoJet) range.  Torque is used to control the car during the drift, so the more torque the merrier.  But, too much power is not good if you can't control it.  So, with the weight of the FC3S, try to shoot for at least 300hp.  Broad power band is more desirable, since it helps having good power at low RPM's on the track.

    This brings us to turbo choices...  GT-series (both HKS and Garrett), ball-bearing turbos are very popular due to their quick-spooling characteristics.  Although pricy, this is the cost to battle with the best.  For the 13BT, the Garrett "GT3540" or "GT35R" is a very good match and makes the requisite 350hp no problem.

    You're welcome to check out our "From Mild to Wild" Power section to get more ideas...
    FC3S Pro:  From Mild to Wild - Engine Power

    The Steering
    Drifting is one of the very few sports that puts an emphasis on steering.  The FC3S is at a disadvantage in this area - see S13 / S14 and AE86 Compare above.  The steering tie rod ends can be shimmed by about 0.25" for more steering angle.  There are premade kits available, but a bunch of washers can be used as a cheaper alternative.

    The Limited Slip Differential
    As with most other types of grip driving, the LSD becomes an important part of the drivetrain.  With drifting, getting both rear wheels to lock-up becomes a matter of control.  Clutch-type LSD's are most popular due to their quick lock-up characteristics.  2-way LSD's are recommended for drifting.
    FC3S Pro:  Mods - LSD

    The Brakes
    Brakes is not something most people would worry about in drifting, but at a certain point, the brakes do become important.  Not only do the brakes slow you down, but in drifting, you can use your brakes to initiate a drift when they are balanced properly.  Good brake feel also allows you to use braking techniques while drifting, and this becomes a very advanced technique when done properly.  Using staggered brakes pads front to rear is a popular set-up in Japan.  Only experimenting with different types of brake pads will get you a combination that will suit your needs.

    The Rims / Wheels
    Rim styles are subjective:  pick a style YOU like.  Lighter weight allows the suspension to react quicker.

    The Tires
    Tire selection is mostly a personal choice, as there are enough options available to allow for several good choices.  The front tires need to be sticky, so any of the ultra high performance tires or even R-compound DOT tires are good choices.  The FC3S is already an understeering chassis to begin with, so getting as much traction in the front becomes even more important.

    For the rear tires, finding a tire that doesn't chunk during drifting is the key.  If the rear tires wear evenly and don't chunk, you'll get a lot more life out of them.  Cheaper tires wil typical chunk under so much abuse, so you'll need to pay a little more money for some of the better performance tires.  We're heard that Falken and Federal brand tires work very well in the rear.  We'll be trying some of these tires in the near future, so keep checking for updates in here.  If you have any direct experiences with any other good tire models for the rears, please drop us a note!

    For tire sizing, get as big of a tire up front that you can fit.  You should be able to fit a 225 wide tire up front with very little fuss.  Some 235 wide tires can be fit up front too.  Getting anything more than 245 wide up front is almost impossible.  Front overfenders can solve the clearance problems, but you need to resize the rims to accomodate the wider tires.  With 1" overfenders, fitting a 245 or even a 255 wide tire up front becomes trivial.  For the rears, the width is dictated by how much power you're running.  FC3S with mild upgrades cannot spin anything larger than 245 wide rear tires to be effective.  Too wide of a tire with not enough power makes for sluggish throttle control when drifting.  Most of the D1 cars don't run anything wider than a 255 or 265 wide tire in the rear, so that gives you an idea that wider is not always better.  The rear tires need to work with the amount of power the engine is making, so keep that in mind.  Also, wider rear tires usually makes it more tricky to throttle control due to more rubber - keep that in mind also.

    The Alignment
    As with standard alignment tricks, the alignment will be dependent on what you're going to use the vehicle for.  Front toe-in keeps the car stable at high speed, so if you're going to be doing high-speed drifting, a slight toe-in will make it easier to control the car at speed.  Toe-out will cause the car to react quicker with steering inputs, but high speed stability will be compromised - the car will get really twitchy and start to dart around at higher speeds.  Front camber will be depedent on what kind of tires you run, but slight negative camber will allow more traction up front without compromising tire wear.  The FC3S likes about -2° to -4° of camber in the front on the track, so use that as a guide.  Front camber plates allow you to adjust camber up front.

    For the rear, we don't like to use too much camber.  Keeping camber near zero will allow the rear tires to accelerate more efficiency and keep weird tire wear in check.  You'll need camber adjust links or a rear camber adjust bar to mess with the rear camber.  Although toe is not technically adjustable in the rear of the FC3S, there are cam adjusters that can adjust toe.  Slight toe-in can keep the rear more stable, while slight toe-out will cause the rear to kick out easier.  You can try and experiment with the toe in the rear, but we usually keep the toe at "0" initially as a baseline.

    The Interior
    Although not required, upgrades in the interior can help.  These are typical upgrades that most race cars will do so they are nothing new.  A racing seat will help by keeping the driver in place under high G-forces.  The high bolsters on a racing seat will keep the driver in place, allowing you to concentrate more on controlling the car rather than bracing yourself in place.  In conjunction with the racing seat, a racing harness works with the seat to complete the package.  When properly strapped in with a racing harness, the driver becomes immobile and the forces of even drifting can't move you.  For a racing harness to work safely, a roll ball or roll cage with a dedicated crossbar for the racing harness running horizontally above the shoulders is the safest way to install them.  Having the racing harness shoulder straps run downwards is DANGEROUS - please ensure the racing harness is installed properly!

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