Step into a time machine, dig up those JDM Option VHS cassettes and reminisce for a minute. Do you remember exactly what made you fall in love with drifting? Was it because of the dramatic twin-drifting? Was it the function follows form flair (say that 5 times fast)? Or was it the fact that drifiting was just so different from anything else; based on nothing other than style? Drifting has always appealed to the alt. crowd of motorsports enthusiasts. Tuning only meant removing collars from coil-overs and fitting dope wheels. In essence, car goes down, wheels go out.
There was something magical about seeing a pair of mid 90s rear-wheel drive cars, slammed to the floor with ridiculous wheel fitment, and going sideways at equally fantastic speeds. You could really see the drivers' passion expressed through their driving and through their cars' styling. These cars were usually "built" at home by the drivers, and for the most part, conventional car tuning was never a concern; They only cared about looking bad ass, and looking even more bad ass going sideways.
Fast forward to the present. We all know now that drifting has grown to a world-wide phenomenon which almost demands countless amounts of money to be poured into its professional leagues. Car manufacturers have come aboard, and built drift machines that seemingly defy physics. The Red Bull World Drifting Championship proved this with entry speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour! But, has the original soul of drifting, that was born in the mountains of Japan, become completely lost in the commercialization of the sport? In the 2009 season of Formula D, we will see a whole new level of drift machine come in to play. Samuel Hubinette's MOPAR Challenger and Rhys Millen's Hyundai Genesis coupe are amazing machines, but these are works cars… Although the drama is still there, are these cars missing the style, flare and overall character that made so many of us fall in love with drifting in the first place?
This is Matt Powers and this is his Nissan 240sx. And his car is pouring with character from every corner. He's from sunny San Diego, California. He's about to graduate from UCSD with a degree in philosophy, loves to surf, and most importantly, he loves to drift –and look bad ass in the process. He recently got his Formula D license at the Pro-Am event last year in Long Beach.
To me, this car is really what drifting is all about; looking bad ass and not giving a damn about much else. There is so much style, flare and so much of Matt Powers' soul that has been woven into this car.
In many peoples' eyes, this car is a piece of junk rice-mobile. But, it is a reminder to the character and spirit that factory built drift cars lack. Seeing this S14 roll around the streets of Pacific Beach, California, was a sight to behold. The gargling turbo-charged KA24DE broke pedestrians necks over and over again. It was a complete show stopper.
I watched an older gentleman completely stop from his morning jog and just stare. First following this off the wall car with his eyes, then his head. As he ran out of head turning capabilities, he turned is whole body, giving a look of awe (or confusion) that no Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley or Aston Martin could garner.
A car's character is something that cannot be bought from an online catalog. It is not something that can be imitated. It is something that is built over time through the relationship between owner and car. You can easily order multi-colored bubble shift knobs from Japan, quirky stickers to put on your hydraulic e-brake, 5Zigen FN01R-C 17x10s in the front, Work VS-XX in 17×11 for the rears, but the execution of the whole package also relies on the driver succeeding in expressing his or her own charisma.
There is something attractive with how this car sits so low on the ground, the green racers tape, and old scars from epic battles which are now inscribed into Matt's own history book.
I heard over the grapevine about a past Willow Springs event Matt attended. At the end of one particular battle, his bumper came off, and he had no way of fitting it into the car to drive home. So he snapped the bumper in two and calmy said:
"I'll just re-glass it when I get home."
That is one example of complete devotion to the original spirit of drifting –totally not giving a damn about anything (other than going sideways, of course).
Character. Absolute character.
Every person has different taste in cars, and taste is subjective. Some people may think this car is, like I said earlier, a piece of junk. But as gear heads, we can all recognize the passion that this car radiates, and give it the recognition it deserves. The flame and spirit of street drifting style from Japan is being kept alive by this very 240sx.
Matt will be competing in his first Formula D event at the Streets of Long Beach this weekend. Come and support the only car on the grid without sponsor's stickers!
P.S. Matt Powers would like to give a shout out to, Tom, Tommy Roberts, and his number one fan, Nate Deck. He'd also like to thank Martin Muench from Part Shop Max, makers of the coil-over, which Matt's car has installed, "designed for maximum lowness"!