In the previous post we started our top 10 drift cars countdown with a look at numbers 10-6 on the list. Now we will continue with numbers 5-2 before announcing the winner in the final post. If you haven't read our criteria for picking these cars, make sure you check out the first post.
Well, let's jump right back into it with our choice for number 5.
#5 HKS S15
Type: S15 Silvia
Series: D1GP Japan and USA, Formula D, etc.
Years Active: 2000-Present
Driver(s): Nobuteru Taniguchi, Daijiro Yoshihara
Chassis Variations: 2
Current Status: Inactive
Number of Wins: 5
Breakthrough innovation: The HKS S15 was one of the first "pro-built" drift cars and was dominant during the first few years of the D1 Grand Prix. The car's distinct red and yellow livery made it instantly recognizable among fans and it helped to establish HKS as one the pioneering supporters of professional drifting. The HKS S15 also became iconic among American drift fans when it appeared in early D1 USA events.
Notable Achievements: Nobuteru Taniguchi drove the HKS S15 to five victories in D1 as well as winning the inaugural D1 championship in 2001. When Taniguchi switched to the Altezza, the S15 disappeared from competition for a while. In 2007 one version of the car was sold to the Rockstar drift team where it was driven by Daijiro Yoshihara in Formula D and came very close to winning the series championship with the car. Another version of the car is currently being used for demos by HKS in the UK.
Lasting Influence: This car helped to cement the S15 as one of the world's best drift machines and to many this car represents the "glory days" of the D1 Grand Prix.
#4 JUN Auto/ Team Orange Impreza
Type: GDB Subaru Impreza
Series: D1GP Japan and USA, European Drift Championship
Years Active: 2005-Present
Builder(s): JUN Auto
Driver(s): Nobushige Kumakubo, Hideo Hiraoka
Chassis Variations: 2
Current Status: Active in D1 and the EDC
Number of Wins: 4
Breakthrough innovation: When Kumakubo replaced his proven S15 Silvia with a rear wheel drive-converted Impreza in 2005, many were not sure what to expect. As everyone would see, the original Team Orange Impreza would prove both JUN Auto's car building skills as well as Kumakubo's skill as a driver.With its RWD conversion and rear-mounted radiator, this car became one of the first "extremely" modified pro drift cars
Notable Achievements: Kumakubo won the 2006 D1GP series in this Impreza as well as picking up a few event victories along the way. Although he switched to an Evo in 2007, he continued to use a GDB Impreza in the United States. In 2008 Kumakubo's "overseas" Impreza was shipped to the UK where he is currently driving it in the European Drift Championship. He has already had one second place finish and one win in the EDC. Back in Japan, the 2006 championship car is now being driven by Team Orange member Hideo Hiraoka in D1.
Lasting Influence: This car helped start the trend of using converted AWD cars for drifting use. Besides the several cars JUN has built since, similar cars have poppped up in other countries around the world.
#3 Keiichi Tsuchiya AE86
Type: AE86 Sprinter Trueno
Series: None, but do iconic Japanese videos count?
Years Active: 1990's-present
Builder(s): TRD, Kei Office
Driver(s): Keiichi Tsuchiya
Chassis Variations: 1
Current Status: Active
Number of Wins: 0
Breakthrough innovation: Although this car is not a pro machine or exclusively a drift car, we knew it deserved a spot on our list for inspiring so many AE86 fans around the world. Actually we were not sure which of Tsuchiya's cars to use, but in the end we decided to go with his iconic white Trueno seen in many Best Motoring, Hot Version, and AE86 club videos. Besides having influential styling, this car is also one of the earliest and best examples of a 20-valve swapped AE86.
Notable Achievements: When people around the world first saw this car in videos like Best Motoring Vol. 41, it inspired many of them to get involved with drifting and helped to establish the AE86 the favorite that it is today. There have been several replicas of this car built over the years and Tsuchiya's AE86 is a large reason for the popularity of the "SSR Dori Mesh" wheels which still sell for a premium today.
Lasting Influence: Even now the car still appears occasionally in Hot Version videos and it still drops jaws whenever it comes out. It also still sounds as beautiful as ever.
#2 APEXi FD3S
Type: Mazda FD3S RX7
Series: D1 Japan anpresent
Builder(s): APEXi Japan and USA, Formula D
Years Active: 2002-present
Driver(s): Youichi Imamura, Ryuji Miki
Chassis Variations: 2?
Current Status: Active in Formula D
Number of Wins: 9
Breakthrough innovation: Although there is nothing really abnormal about the APEXi FD's specs, there have been few cars as dominant as these cars were when they were driven by Youichi Imamura in D1. It is important to note that there were two similar, but different versions of this car. One was RHD and built by APEXi in Japan, and another was LHD and built by APEXi USA. Both versions have seen plenty of drift action over the years.
Notable Achievements: Imamura drove this car to several wins in D1 over the years and also won the 2003 series championship. The American-built car is now being driven by Ryuji Miki in Formula D. The RHD version of the car in its original APEXi livery recently resurfaced in Singapore where Miki drove it to victory in the Formula D exhibition match there.
Lasting Influence: There are few drift cars with as much history as the APEXi FD, and this car's journey appears to be far from over with Miki still putting on great performances in Formula D with it.
So that takes care our first nine picks, next time we will announce the winner. Any guesses?