You may have run across the term “drift car.” Perhaps you’ve wondered what a drift car is and how it differs from other kinds of RC cars? If thats the case let me explain what they are and more importantly, which one is the best.
What is the Best Drifting RC Car? In my opinion the Redcat Racing Lightning EPX (Click here to see the price on Amazon) is a great choice, it is quite fast with speeds up to 40mph. And you can tune the car, for those that enjoy this. It is a great beginner drift car as with its ease of use, which makes it a great choice.
Drift cars can be an exciting challenge for beginners and for truly advanced RC car drivers. They are not easy to master, but with a lot of work and patience, drift car driving can be a highly satisfying hobby. In this post, we’ve provided further information about drift cars and what makes these particular models so special.
Drift Cars Vs. Other RC Cars
Before you know for sure if you want to buy a drift car, it is good to know what exactly a drift car is and what its competitors are. There are several different types of RC cars, and I’ll briefly explain each kind so you can learn the differences.
Drift Cars and how they Relate to On-road RC cars
Dirft Cars are effectively a type of On-Road RC Car. On road cars drive well on flat surfaces. They look like cars you’d see in the Indianapolis 500. These cars are slick, low to the ground, and aerodynamic. They also come in two types: street cars and today’s focus, the drift cars.
- Street cars are the fastest kind of RC car available. They are responsive and easy to drive for beginners and professionals. They sit very low to the ground and have good grip on their tires. The tires don’t allow them to slide into turns, but they are still the fastest RC cars around. With the proper modifications, some street cars have been known to travel over 100 mph.
- Drift cars are almost identical to street cars, but they have smooth tires. Drift cars can be addictive once you get the hang of them.
Much bulkier and often more closely resemble monster trucks. Like the name implies, the off-road cars are built to travel over any obstacle.
They have better suspension and are capable and transitioning between different surface types. Their tires may come spiked to give them necessary grip on rough terrain.
Those same large tires that help them to travel also prove a disadvantage on flat surfaces, however. Their bulk also prevents them from travelling at the same speeds as the on-road cars.
These are cars that are basically a hybrid of on-road and off-road RC cars. They still aren’t as fast on flat surfaces, but they are much faster than their off-road cousins. They come in two different types as well:
- Buggies sit low to the ground and are especially slow off-road. They still travel, but their smaller tires make them move at a much more sluggish pace. On pavement however, they are second in speed only to the street car.
- Truggies, on the other hand, have much larger tires. This slows them down on flat surfaces, but gives them a big speed boost off-road. Truggies are very versatile and adaptable cars for casual hobbyists, but no off-road car is capable of sliding into turns like the drift car can do.
Drift Racing History
Drift racing is when a vehicle races through turns by forcing their tires into a slide. As the car slides into the turn, it drifts sideways and comes out of the turn already facing the right direction.
With a skillful driver, this allows the car to turn at much higher speeds. It takes a lot of control, but it is a beautiful skill to watch in action when mastered. Race car drivers have been using this technique as early on as the 1930s in the Grand Prix races.
Drivers in Japan have been drifting, themselves, since the 1960s. It was begun by a group of racers known as the Rolling Zoku.
These early racers used the mountain roads to perfect their drifting skills and increase their speed as they challenged each other on the sharp and dangerous mountain paths. These races are still continued today, and they are held both legally and illegally.
The drivers do it for the rush and as a part of their heritage. Many of them inherited the love of drifting from their fathers and grandfathers. Some are even driving the same vehicles. The largest legal drift race is known as the All Japan Touring Car Championship.
As drift racing became popular among full-sized vehicles, RC cars began to pick up on the excitement, too. Now, many different models and types are available that range from as little as $16 to nearly $300.
Obviously, the cheaper models aren’t going to have the same capabilities and durability as the more expensive models, but there are some very nice mid-range cars, as well.
Best RC drift cars
Like their full-sized cousins, drift RC cars are equipped with smooth tires that enable them to slide through the turns. High-end RC drift cars also usually have four-wheel drive (4WD) to offer more control and stability, while low-end cars may only come with two-wheel drive (2WD).
In this section, we’re going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of some of the top drift cars.
Super GT RC Sport Racing Drift Car
The GT RC Sport Racing Drift Car (click here to see the price on Amazon) is quite possibly the best drift car you can buy for the price. Sold by Hobby-Ace, this car is suitable for everyone, from children starting at 4, to adults of any age. It is 11.8 inches tall, 4.7 inches wide, and 3.1 inches high.
The remote control works up to 30 meters (98.4 feet) away, so it has a pretty impressive radio range.
This car moves quickly and comes with two different kinds of tires. You can decide if you want to use the “speed” tires and “drift” tires. The speed tires allow for faster driving on flat surfaces, while the “drift” tires allow you to slide. It’s a perfect beginning car for those who are just getting started.
It comes with a rechargeable 700 mAh NI-Cad batteries with 1.5 volts. The charger is included, but it takes 90 minutes to recharge and only gives you about 10-15 minutes of run time. Upgrading to more powerful Ni-MH batteries will give you better run time.
Redcat Racing Lighting EPX
The Redcat Racing Lightening EPX car (Click here to see the price on Amazon) is at the top drift car. The Redcat is approximately 14 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 5 inches tall. The Redcat is an impressive car (Click here to see if it the same as HSP) for any age, and can thrill both children and adults.
It is a very aesthetically pleasing vehicle and is very aerodynamic. It’s very affordable for a drift car, and has adjustable independent suspension. It is also very fast, and can reach speeds up to and over 40 mph.
Due to its aluminum capped, oil-filled shocks, you can also tune the car to fit your needs. The chassis (the bottom of the car that houses all the parts) is light-weight and made of plastic. It has an excellent recovery after a prolonged drift.
It comes with a brushed motor, which, while somewhat limiting, is suitable for casual hobbyists. It doesn’t run for very long (approximately 15 minutes) on the batteries that come with the car, but you can upgrade to more powerful batteries for even faster and longer performance. It is an excellent gateway car into drifting, and makes it easy to learn and master the skill.
Their have been a few reports that the car arrived damaged and poor customer service, but fortunately that seems to be the minority of cases.
Another Thing to consider is, the radio controlled range may be a bit limited, so if you need a long range I would not get this.
The Redcat comes with a 2v rechargeable battery for the car, but you’ll need 8 AA batteries for the transmitter.
HPI Racing Falken Nissan S13
This is the most durable car on this list. It is 25.6 inches long, 11.8 inches wide, and 7.2 inches tall. The car is equipped with 4WD and a 2.4 GHz radio. It has an enclosed drive train to keep dirt out of the gears.
This reduction of dirt reduces maintenance and repair costs. Unlike some of its very aerodynamic competitors, the Falken has a massive bumper that protects it from being damaged in a crash, and it also has a bathtub-type chassis which makes it fairly indestructible.
The body is a different story, for though it has few low reviews, many of those who have complained about it have said that body was damaged by collisions. It’s a fantastic car for someone who is just learning how to drift.
It is also easy to improve with different parts, including upgrading the body to one with a little more strength. The car comes with a NiMH power back and charger, but unfortunately it takes about eight hours to fully charge and only gives you about twenty minutes of run time. Many enthusiasts recommend getting a second battery.
Exceed RC MadSpeed Drift King
The Exceed RC MadSpeed Drift King (Click here to see the price on Amazon) is another excellent choice. This car is 17.3 inches long and 7.5 inches wide. I was unable to locate the specifications on its height, but it has a very low-center of gravity and is very aerodynamic.
This car has 4WD. Most drift cars can only drive on smooth or flat surfaces, but this car is unique. Due to the drifting rubber on its wheels and its light chassis, the Drift King can actually drive on almost any terrain.
The 2.4 GHz (gigahertz) radio system is very responsive and provides excellent control for even a beginning driver. The Drift King also comes with a brushless motor, which provides more power and less friction when compared with the brushed models.
The details on this model add to its impressive quality. It even comes with LED headlights! Its upper deck, center drive, and motor mount are all made out of light-weight CNC aluminum, which is durable without being too heavy.
It comes with a 7.2v Ni-MH 1800mAh battery and has the charger included. If you want to upgrade this vehicle, switching to LiPo batteries would really amp up this brushless vehicle’s power.
The few reports of have described models that arrived already broken or that broke within the first week, but for the most part, this car exceeds expectations.
Ford GT RC Drift Car
The Ford GT RC Drift Car (Click here to see the price details on Amazon) is manufactured by Traxxas, which has an excellent reputation in the RC car industry.
It is a high end, quality selection. This Ford GT Drift Car is an exact replica of the life-sized Fort GT car. It even has replica black chrome rims and replica brake discs with calipers. Traxxas has a pretty good reputation for providing powerful, durable cars, so this can be an excellent choice for someone who wants to start driving professionally.
These cars are recommended for drivers of 14 years old and up, and they come with 4WD.
I was surprised to find out that they do not come with a battery or charger, but require either a 9.4V NiMH battery and charger or a 2-cell LiPo battery with charger.
In the related questions below, I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages for each kind of battery so you can decide which will be best for you.
The gears are also plastic instead of metal, but unless you’re a professional racer, that shouldn’t be too disadvantageous for you. I was a bit surprised to learn that this car contains a brushed motor, but is brushless-compatible, should you decide to upgrade.
The transmitter is 2.4GHz. Honestly, though this car is a popular choice for drift cars, but if you’re looking for a really speedy premium quality car, you might want to purchase one that already has a brushless motor and includes a LiPo battery.
However, if you are simply looking for a car that excels at drifting, the Ford GT does drive to the top. It has a smooth undercarriage that reduces drag that can slow the car, and it comes with a fine-tuned suspension that allows better grip and performance. It can hit up to 30 mph on a brushed motor, which is pretty impressive for said motor type, and it is also waterproof.
Best Drift Car Wrap-Up
RC drift racing is very addicting to watch and to master. As you read through these recommended cars, keep in mind that faster cars are harder to control. Brushless motors will provide you with more speed, but brushed motors are excellent motors for beginning drivers.
Often, it’s good to start with something a little cheaper until you get the hang of drifting, and then save some money and buy a car with a bit more kick. Every drift car enthusiast is going to have a different opinion on which car is the best, but the above choices should help you get started.
What are brushed and brushless motors? Brushed cars use a system where a wire coil rotates and “brushes” up against electrodes in order to power the motor. As the electrodes touch the end of the wire, the polarity of the wire inside the motor changes, which causes the wire to rotate within a circle of magnets.
As the wire rotates, it powers the motor. However, where it brushes against the electrodes, friction occurs which limits the speed at which your motor can run. This friction also eventually wears down the “brushes,” and they will eventually need to be replaced. The brushed motor system is reliable and perfectly acceptable for casual RC hobbyists. Unless you are running your RC every day, the brushes are unlikely to wear down for a long time.
Brushless motors use a column of electromagnetics, instead of wire. These electromagnets are powered by electricity from the battery, and the electricity changes the polarity, which causes the electromagnets to rotate within their circle of stable magnets.
Nothing is touched because everything is simply powered off of electricity. Therefore, nothing wears down and there is next to no friction, so the motor is able to move unfettered and cause the RC car to travel at much faster speeds. Brushless motors are currently being used by more and more professional RC racers.
What is the difference between Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, and LiPo batteries?
Ni-Cad (Nickel Cadmium) is the oldest kind of battery. They have a few advantages, but they are generally less powerful than the Ni-MH or LiPo batteries. They normally only run between 10-20 minutes.
They do distribute their maximum charge for the entire time that they are running your vehicle, but they also have battery “memory,” which means that if you don’t let them drain entirely and recharge entirely, they will “remember” how much they charged the time before.
Then, they will only charge that much from then on. So, for example, if you charge your battery when it has 30% remaining, the battery will only charge to 70% of its power, even if you drain it completely the next time. Ni-Cd batteries are almost never used by professional racers.
Ni-MH (Nickel-metal hydride) are a newer rechargeable battery. They tend to take at least 90 minutes to charge, and usually last between 20-40 minutes.
They don’t have battery “memory,” so you can recharge them at any point and they will fully recharge. They do eventually lose the ability to recharge, but that is usually after a few hundred recharges, provided you leave the battery at room temperatures. Ni-MH batteries vary greatly in their power output. The larger the numbers on the batteries, the more power your battery will provide and the longer it will last.
Ni-MH batteries are safe, stable, and fairly inexpensive. They are best for the casual hobbyist who enjoys driving their RC car occasionally and doesn’t need a lot of power or speed from their vehicle. They are reliable and will keep your car running for a long period of time. Be sure not to overcharge, however, as you can damage the batteries and wind up having to replace them.
LiPo (lithium ion polymer) batteries have only been in the market since the 1980s. They are able to store a lot more power than conventional batteries and are commonly used in laptops, phones, and many other modern electronics.
In RC cars, LiPo batteries are best paired up with brushless motors. When brushless motors are powered by LiPo batteries, the combination can produce cars that can drive over 100 mph. These batteries are more expensive, but they also can recharge hundreds of times more than Ni-MH batteries.
However, they are not quite as stable as their older rivals. Due to their ability to store a lot of energy, if they are damaged or improperly charged, that energy can escape as excessive heat or, in worst-case scenarios, as an actual explosion.
Explosions rarely happen, and usually only occur when people deliberately overcharge and damage them. However, the heat that can occur when they are accidentally damaged can be so severe that anything nearby that is flammable can catch fire. Houses have been burned down due to the improper use of LiPo batteries. These accidents are very rare… only about three per million batteries that are used will have this kind of accident, and there are ways to make sure that these accidents don’t happen to you.
Here are a few tips that will prevent your LiPo from being damaged irreparably:
- Don’t overcharge your battery. Use only the charger that came with your battery or a charger that is specifically for your battery’s voltage. When the battery is charged at a faster speed than it is capable of handling, it can begin to swell and produce gas and heat. This increased heat will cause the swelling to continue until, eventually, the battery will burst. This is one of the few cases that will result in an actual explosion.
- Occasionally, crashes will damage the battery and expose the lithium ions to the air. When that occurs, the ions will produce heat and/or fire. Many battery packs now have protective coverings that keep this kind of damage from occurring, even if they get into a crash, but some don’t. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher with you, just in case.
- Electrical shortages in the car can cause heat to build up in the battery. Even if this doesn’t cause a fire, it can heat the battery up to the point that it won’t work anymore. Just take a look at the wiring before you place the battery inside and make sure that none of the wires are crossed.
- Room temperature is best for LiPo batteries. Excessive heat of any kind can cause them to swell. Once the batteries are swollen, even if they don’t damage anything around them, they won’t work anymore, and that’s money down the drain.
LiPo batteries are becoming more and more common all the time, and people rarely have any issues with them. They can really give a power boost to your RC drift car, but before you decide to invest in a LiPo, make sure it is compatible with your vehicle.
Are there any nitro RC drift cars? There are a few nitro engine RC drift cars, and many of them are quite effective and fun to drive. However, many racetracks are indoor tracks, and nitro engines are very rarely allowed to drive indoors.
Check with your local tracks to find out which vehicles are allowed to drive on the tracks and what rules and restrictions are followed.
That having been said, any nitro street cars could “technically” become drift cars if you simply replace the rough tires with smooth tires.
How do I start racing? Check with your local RC hobby store. If you don’t know where it is located, check the internet. These stores are scattered all over the United States and the world. If you don’t have one very near, check online for nearby RC racing tracks.
Most racers are very friendly and are willing to help new races step into the circuit. The message boards online can be very informative, as well. If you are really interested in racing, research the local tracks before you buy your vehicle.
Each track has different rules and different location conditions. Some are indoor and some are outdoor, which can affect what kind of car is allowed. That can change what kind of car you decide to get.