November 29, 2018 by Joshua

The BMW e36 328i is one of the best cheap/entry level drift cars. Really.

If you’re like me, you’re itching to get out to the track and do some drifting. It just looks like so much fun. I’ve done some High Performance Driving Experience track days and a fair amount of autocrossing, but I definitely have to experience some sustained skids! Especially given my proximity to the #greatestplaceonearth aka Englishtown Raceway

The good news is that there are plenty of resources that discuss the different options. One of the best resources I’ve found is Chelsea DeNofa’s vid on how to buy a drift car:

Here at dontdriveboringcars.com, we are all about value and getting the best deal we can. After hours of scouring AutoTempest, we found some potential candidates. Below are a few of the best priced BMW E36 328i manual transmission cars on the market today and things to look for and consider when picking one of them up for the purposes of drifting!

On top of the price, let’s break down the key components which make the BMW e36 328i great for drifting:

-The 328 model comes with an excellent straight six cylinder engine (code M52b28) with plenty of torque to spin those rear tires even in naturally aspirated form. The 328’s were made from ’95-98 and the m52 made 190hp and 207lb ft of tq respectively.

-For those hungry for a lot of horsepower (priority is obviously to get out to the track first!) will find the e36 generation much easier to turbocharge than the e46 generation because of the difficulty/complexity of properly tuning the e46.

-Anothing thing going for the 328 specifically is the gearbox. It is the same 5-speed that came in the M3. The manual transmission is made by ZF and is rated to 230lb ft of tq and is known to stand up to abuse well.

-Given the brake size of the e36, lots of smaller used wheels are out there which means cheap spares, something that will definitely come into play.

-There are plenty of steering rack options out there for even quicker steering.

-Plenty of affordable “drift knuckle” options to get that much needed steering angle (see below):

DriftKnuckles.com Full Unicorn Kit-$680

Sideways Fab BMW E36 Roll Center Correcting Drift Knuckles – $350

WattWerks E36 Drift Knuckles – $350

-Plenty of options for limited slip differentials. For example, you could upgrade to a factory m3 lsd or a Torsen 4:10 helical LSD from Z3 (you could always just give the welder treatment, too).


BMW e36 328i (or at least an M52) Manual Transmission

The e36 BMW is great for drifting for a number of reasons, but perhaps one of the best reasons is the market price. See below for a few of the best deals we were able to find:

1998 BMW 328i Manual Transmission Drift Truck – $2,500!!

1998 BMW 328i Manual Transmission (project) -$800

1998 BMW 328i E36 Manual Transmission – $3,000

1996 BMW 318ti M52 Swapped 328i Manual Transmission – $1800


In conclusion, if you have a $3,000 budget and want to go drifting, an E36 328i manual transmission is surely one of the best options out there.




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