Pro drifter Chelsea DeNofa has always been making interesting cars. His turbo E46 always seemed to push the limits of what each component could handle, and it felt like it was always either fighting for a podium or blowing up on the way there. Now he’s building a Ford Mustang, and it’s no surprise it’s a fun collection of parts.
DeNofa has a few videos of the Fox Body up on his YouTube, the first of which details the general plans for the car. Not too much power, not a lot of weight, and a lot of simplicity. It’s not like the car will never break — breaking things is pretty much the standard operating procedure of a drift car — but everything will be durable, affordable, and repeatable. At 2,400 pounds this should be lighter than your buddy’s old Nissan 240SX and certainly a lot lighter than DeNofa’s other party car, an E36 ti that he says is around 3,000 pounds. What it won’t be is terribly exotic.
The engine in particular is as new and as common as it can be for this kind of gig: a 2.3-liter EcoBoost you find in new Mustangs, good enough for a few hundred horsepower with a standalone ECU. There is no work sourcing an SR20 out of a rustbucket S13, and there’s no onerous ITB setup on something naturally aspirated.
Building this Ford with a Ford engine now that he’s switched to a Ford team, I’m charmed that DeNofa found a way to get a BMW transmission in the car. It’s a ZF S5D-320Z, a nice transmission that is affordable enough to be replaced every few seasons of driving.
A dogbox would last longer, but it would be pricier, too, and introduce much more maintenance to the project altogether, as DeNofa explains in his most recent update:
The mix and match meant the car needed an adaptor plate (and also a starter from a Miata), which was not the easiest thing to source. DeNofa at one point wishes he just crammed a Ford automatic in there:
Again, I find it cute that DeNofa went looking for something simple and trusty and ended up with something meant for a 1990s BMW. At least the car didn’t need window regulators.