12-06-2018 – Laurie Southern
A Treat For The Eyes: HEL DriftCup

Long gone are the days of grassroots drifting being less vibrant or exciting as it’s top-flight relative. Lazy paint jobs and boring cars are a thing of the past. And so, allow me to show you some of the cars competing in this year’s HEL DriftCup.

It would be wrong of me to talk about the appearance of drift cars and not give a special mention to the boys at Low Origin. As the name suggests, they’re keen believers in that drift cars should be as low as possible. Most of all because this is how our Japanese brothers and sisters intended it to be. As a result, Dan Joyce’s Nissan Silvia S15 is no different.

A striking livery, purposeful body kit and strong wheel choice are a recipe for a very attractive drift car indeed. It also helps when it’s low as fuck, but you knew that anyway.

Dan’s owned the car for a number of years now, but only in it’s current guise for the past couple of months. Recently painted by Adam Maciejewski of RETROshine fame and sporting a livery by Graphix-D, the car has been getting crazy amounts of attention both on and off the internet. No wonder, I mean just look at it. My own car has just returned from a trip to RETROshine, more on that another time. It’s long been understood within the drifting world that a car is an extension of an individual’s driving style and personality. Therefore, why wouldn’t you go out of your way to show the pride you have in your steed?

The car looks incredible both on and off the track. Hats off to everyone involved. I also had no idea Dan was competing in DriftCup until I arrived, so that was a nice surprise.

In keeping with the brightly coloured theme, Si Jones and the appropriately named ‘Wasp’ spent all day snapping necks. I’ve seen this car many times before at a variety of venues throughout the North of the UK. I’ll be honest, until now I’ve always had it down as ‘just another MX5 skid car’.

I don’t know how long I haven’t been paying attention for, but this car is one of the most creative cars you’ll see in British competitive drifting today. If the livery alone isn’t enough to catch your attention, then the whine of the supercharger certainly will. Despite the forced induction I’d wager that Si possibly has the lowest power on the grid for this year’s DriftCup, but I’m sure he’s not going to let that stop him. He’ll have the weight advantage that’s for sure – not least down to the lack of a roof.

If his commitment in qualifying was anything to go by, he puts on a show that’s for sure. Si has only been drifting for a couple of years up to now, and unfortunately so far this season has thrown more than his fair share of mechanical issues at him. Kudos to him for pushing through and getting the car on track at every opportunity despite the setbacks. This car is one to watch for sure.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is this Toyota Corolla AE86 Coupe. I know I’ve spent the entire article up to now waxing lyrical about brightly coloured liveries. Taking pride in your car comes in many forms, mind. You can’t deny a Japanese icon such as the ’86 in all black on some relatively understated Work Equip 03s. Such a timeless build has been done many times in the past, and it will continue to be done for years to come…

…And there’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest. Two of my all-time favourite chassis sat side by side from the same team. I’ll take that any day of the week!

I couldn’t get enough of that PS13, either. Less is often more, and absolutely so in this case. The lack of curves on the car make for a very purposeful look, right at home either sideways or in a more grip-focused application. I’ll own one one day. Hopefully.

There’s few more widely used cars in drifting than the Nissan Silvia platform. In fact, I’d argue it is the most widely used. As their use increases, the number of cars that are unfortunately crashed and damaged beyond repair increases. As numbers fall, prices climb. Last I checked the S-body (of any generation) was a lot cheaper than they are today. If you’re after an iconic drift car, now is the time to buy it seems.

I digress, this skipping forward a few years from the PS13 is this Rocket Bunny clad S14 with an S15 front end conversion. Front end conversions have been done in all sorts of forms but this has to be one of my favourites to date. It just works. I’ll reserve my judgement however as to whether or not I prefer it to a Sileighty. Perhaps I need a better look around the car soon.

I’m unsure if it was due to battle damage or done on purpose but it pulls off the whole no rear bumper thing pretty well, too!

In keeping with the Nissan theme, the smile on my face each time I see an R32 is something I can’t ignore. I’ll happily admit that it’s my favourite shape Skyline. Yes, I’d rather an R32 over an R34. Sue me. The whole of Laura Hicks’ car had me feeling funny, from the angular kit to the Fiat minty paint colour and livery. It’s a hark back to the 90s era of drifting in Japan, with bright colours and flowers adorning the sides of the car. Of course the turbocharged RB25 sitting under the bonnet helps, too. Laura is going full steam ahead for this season, and hoping for some decent results at the end of the championship!

The ugly duckling of the Skyline family tree is proving rather popular this year, both in English and Irish drift championships. Widely regarded as the worst of the bunch, the easy power from the engine and strong frame make for a great skid car without a doubt.

I guess they’re not that ugly. Maybe I’m just being harsh.

It’s great to see drivers and teams putting some car and attention into how their cars look, as well as how they perform. Drifting has always been about style and for me, a large part of that is the car itself. I’m all for reverse entries and drift missiles, don’t get me wrong. There’s a balance to be struck and people are starting to achieve it more and more.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer a bit of a missile or a more presentable drift car? How much of the function/form argument is even relevant any more? Let me know in the comments below.

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