Formula Drift Champ Chelsea DeNofa Built a Dreamy Porsche Cayman Drift Car

a silver sports car driving on a road
Porsche's 718 Cayman Is a Perfect Drift Car9NINE2/Michael Russo

Among the ranks of drifters, there are a slew of common chassis codes that are tried and true. From the classic Nissan 240sx and Z-series coupes to BMW's E36 and E46 3-series, the front-engine, rear-wheel drive platform paired with ample wheelbase makes the art of getting sideways that much easier. But drifting isn't about following the rules or the car builder in front of you, either.

That's why former Formula Drift champion and all-around styling driver Chelsea DeNofa wanted to get more creative with his latest drift build. Starting with a relatively clean example of Porsche's 718-generation Cayman, DeNofa got to work learning the intricacies of Stuttgart engineering. Turbocharged V-8s and hammered fenders be gone.

"Porsche pretty much nailed this from a drifting perspective," DeNofa says in his YouTube video. "I know it was for sure on accident but basically... the entire toe and chamber curve in the back from the factory is almost perfect for drifting."

Besides installing some adjustable SPL rear-end suspension pieces. DeNofa said that the team was relieved to not have to entirely redesign the rear geometry. True to the ethos of drifting, he got straight to work welding the rear differential, which was apparently "insanely easy" to do in about 45 minutes. Save for a slipping stock clutch and missing ground wire, nothing mechanical went too wrong during the rear-end build-out, either.

With so much emphasis on steering feel and angle, the stock Porsche front end was almost entirely ripped out and replaced with SPL parts, mirroring E36 geometry up front. The result of this front-end change is up to 66 degrees of steering angle and eight degrees of front camber, all tucked underneath the stock fenders. F30-generation BMW brake rotors were also swapped in, though the stock Porsche calipers remained in place.

Recaro seats and 981-generation doors were initially swapped into the car to reduce weight, but DeNofa is actually planning to fit carbon 718 doors ultimately. Inside the car, the drifter kept the dashboard and cockpit area fairly stock (including an infotainment system), save for certain structural improvements necessary for fitting a proper roll cage.

The most stock piece of the 718 drift car is actually the 2.5-liter, turbocharged flat-four, which DeNofa says they only upped the boost on marginally. Given its reputation for strength, the less desirable engine of the 718 lineup makes for a better rev-limiter-banging platform in this case. With 350 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque in stock from, DeNofa says they eventually plan to build it out to around 600 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque, revving up to 7500 rpm.

"One of the coolest things about this build is the unknowns," DeNofa explains. In keeping an open mind to his creative build, he didn't weigh the car before starting the project, ending up with a 2610-pound Porsche Cayman drift car. That's down around 400 pounds from stock form. This mid-engined, novel drift car is unlikely to compete in Formula Drift, but it's a rad way to approach the drift car format even so.

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