Car Spotlight>> Michael Essa’s Drift Missile

I've been noticing a growing trend in the States which involves car enthusiasts moving away from the aesthetically pleasing but not-so-much-drivable scene that has dominated the past few years. Those people are now taking their cars they've spent so much money in making look cool to actually drive them at their local race tracks.

The Stateside drift missile movement is one of the extremes of this growing performance-centric trend. Cars that are all function and zero form. Drifters, who have grown up driving their beat up S-Chassis or what not, which now drive bacterially clean spaceships in the professional field now grow nostalgic for that grassroots feeling and the pleasure of driving as close as they can with their buddies. 

Formula D driver, Michael Essa, is one of them. He has put together this 1989 FC RX-7 in roughly 40 man hours and on a budget of $7,500.

Much like Essa's previous FC, which is now driven by Charles Ng, it features an LS1 V8.

On the suspension front, the car has an almost complete set of Stance coil overs except for the front passenger side. That's some unknown coil over which Mike found around his shop.

Mike has also cut holes into the wheel well for easy access to the suspension for quick alignments.

Why would he have one strange coil over and not a complete set?

Just Drift's Halloween Bash was the reason. And this was exact the moment why.

That impact sheared his control arm and coil over straight off!

Has the addition of the unknown coil over affected handling? It totally has. Mike has to take left handers a bit slower because of the difference. 

In the pursuit of driving as close as you can in tandem, dents and bangs is a missile car's fate.

This RX-7 convertible had all its convertible bits removed…

…and what's left of the trunk was welded on.  

The interior is as functional as it gets. It looks like a dangerous place to be, but if you're all strapped in, you're good to go. 

Notice the battery/battery box placement in the passenger footwell. The reason the battery was placed there was simple. Mike dug around his garage found a battery wire and that's how far the battery wire reached. 

Only whats needed to drive the car is featured in the interior. 

The car may look like it came straight from the junkyard but it has a few choice parts, like this Jerico four-speed dog box with grip tape mod. 

Mike welded in the cage himself. Everything about the car has been designed so all the parts can be easily accessed or easily taken off if he was to swap everything to a new chassis.

Missile drift cars has been around for a while now. Japan has been doing it for many years. But it was just recently that the missile car trend has grown to a global scale. 

The cars may not look like the most amazing drift cars. They're definitely not built to be demolition derby machines. Their purpose is so the drivers can perfect their skills during the off season without worrying about wrecking their cars, and most importantly, keep drifting fun. 




Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

man, that interior looks like something out of deathrace


Keep drifting fun by removing that V8.


I love cars like this!!!!!ALL FUNCTION!!!!


What people have against rotaries in America ?

Every RX7 we can see in drift events (pro or grassroots) are powered by LSs.

Keep drifting fun by puting V8 in nissan silvias.

By the way : yes, i'm a hater.


sick to see this LS-1 powered RX-7 but the interior looks like a torture room


It may not be pure, but there's no denying the simple reliability of Chevy power. Got to love the missile movement - these are fuel-injected, IRS rat rods.


So, pretty sure my FC just hit 161,xxx, no rebuilds, no smoke, starts up everytime. I also drive it like it was meant to be driven. Pretty sure that is reliable. I, too, hate LS series motors in RX7s.


man, that interior looks like something out of deathrace


another v8 rx7 who cares


kevin what the fuck the ls1 is amazing!


Kevin has obviously never driven an LS powered drift car.

You might not like the noise they make, but they are a blast to drive, especially in an FC RX7!


kevin you gota think pricewise why pay several thousand to make a rotary about 300-400 wen you can drop in a motor thats cheap and powerful to start off with, common sense


A car thrown together as cheaply as possible is badass? I don't understand this trend....


So call missile cars have been around for ten years now, there's nothing new about it. But guess people will make into a "trend" and get famous out of it.


Mad max to the max.


fucking a, if I had a tow bed, and some spare money, damn right I'd do this kind of thing


I'm a "respect = form + function" kind of person but I'm not going to hate. Its just a toy to fool around with and have fun.. not a show car.

Anyways.. "missile"? Make it a real missile and through a turbo or two on the poor tortured creature. ;]


Missile's are ugly


Look at the last picture. Mike sucks. It seems obvious every time I see him (and yes I have seen him in-person several times). The car is Ok tho...


i hate the term "drift missile". i like the idea of building cars just for the sake of beating on them, i just think it's dumb to have a specific term like "drift missile" to describe it.


I heard Charles bought Mike's car for 35K!


ls series motors are not reliable, in stock form yes but what motor isnt? buckets of shit hate chev motors


I like the dog gear trans, engine swap, and rims..The rest looks too ghetto..but as long as he's not driving it on the street, i guess it's okay for a track-only tool. Then again, is that gonna be very good practice when the shocks don't even match up? Does his "real" car also have unmatched coilovers? lol...


Awesome! No RPM gauge?


Rat drifting.


I can't believe how expensive all these "missiles" in the states are costing!!! A missile is supposed to be CHEAP!...sometimes you and a buddy each throw $500 at a car to share and call it day!


It doesn't come down to money, it comes down to keeping it grassroots and fun. V8's are lame as hell, nothing will sway my thoughts on that.

I also would never drive an LS powered let alone American powered vehicle.


LS1 doesnt even have overhead cam and is underpowered...


Is it just me or does that intake look rather phallic?


"Look at the last picture. Mike sucks. It seems obvious every time I see him (and yes I have seen him in-person several times). The car is Ok tho..."

Drifting is all about the drama these days...


cool ride: you gotta be bullshitting man there is no way it was 35 thousand.


I love how everyone immediately starts to hate on the V8 and claim they want keep drifting fun. But it sounds like you guys are taking this shit more seriously than anyone. It's someone elses car and money. Fall back and do your own shit.


How the hell did all this cost only &7500? I can barely find an LS under 10K alone..


wow seems everyone is getting there daily dose of hateraid in... im not a fan of the ls swap but its a cool setup and they make gobbs of torque down bottom which makes them fun as hell to slide... and about the whole missle thing stop HATING i wish i could build something similar and not care if i smash it or not it makes it easier to progress if your not afraid of smashing the car


this is the greatest car (in my eyes) that i have ever seen. I LOVE IT! (i am completely serious)


A little too raw for my taste.


Wow so much hate on the missile! We have a S14 "Battle Car" Same principal as this. Dont knock it till youve driven it, they teach you so much about control. Once youve mastered drifting a car that has been literally thrown together out of odd bits and pieces you get into a properly set up car and can master it! Keep up the good work!


what is wrong with half you guys? It's a drift missile, or what ever else you want to call it. Is he ment to practice and try new techniques by smashing up the BMW in the off season, I doubt this gutted smashed up rx7 is his "style", Don't build a show car to learn in, and don't try to learn in an underpowered pos.

I hear this crap from every noob, they want to start drifting so they get an s13, put in something turboed and toss on coil overs, but then they want to put on gangster rims and a sick body kit before they have even linked a damn corner. Then all we see on the forums in "waa waa I can afford to drift, 4 nearly new baller 19x9.5, paid 2 1/2 Gs, want $1500 obo".

Make some hp, get some coils and cage it. After you learn how to drift, then worry about making the car sexy.



I am not sure why, but every time I see a LS 1/2/3 in a rx7 i get sad.


Now this stuff will be all tendy and shit and idiots will beat up their cars on purpose. Typical USA, f**king everything up. Learn to drive first and respect your cars.


Dang, everyone is so serious.

Build a car you feel like.

Have fun.

The end.


Jeremy lowe, and Dan chilton are both running rotary turbo ii's.


All the guys hating on the ls, ever think that it's probably the closest he could get to the bmw motor? makes practice a bit easier...


What a piece of shit.


Wow so much hate.... i thought this was to keep drifting fun.... fan boys cry about everything...