The Nissan 240SX is famous for its appeal to the drifting crowd, just figured I would acknowledge the elephant in the room from the get go. It holds this fame because it is pretty much the ideal entry-level drift machine for many reasons which will be addressed later, but what makes the 240 great for the drifters also makes it great for other enthusiasts as well.
Straight up, the 240SX is good because it is a blank slate for pretty much any performance application around, and it can be had for just a couple grand, or even a few hundred if you’re looking for just a shell. As a car in stock form it is pretty much garbage. Its 2.4L inline 4 produces 140-155bhp depending on the year, a meager amount of power even for its time, and its suspension will only feel sporty to people who aren’t really enthusiasts. Back in its day it belonged to the “sporty, but not really” segment along with the Honda Prelude. So, know that if you buy one of these it will need modifications before it will be any sort of proper sports car, and be ready to put in the work to make it one if that is what you desire.
The good thing though is that in Japan and elsewhere these cars were marketed as proper sports cars, called Nissan Silvias, with turbocharged 2.0L engines producing 200bhp or more and the suspension to match. Because of this there are many direct swap modifications that can be done to the 240SX using Japanese market parts for the Silvia, the rest of the Nissan parts bin, and of course the huge aftermarket available for these cars. There are also various kits out there that make it easy to swap in other non Nissan engines, such as Chevrolet LS V8s, and Toyota Supra Turbo motors, among others. Few limits exist on what can be done with a 240SX, and while it is necessary to modify the car if you want it to be any good, you can literally do anything with it that you can imagine (I’ve even seen a mid engine V8 setup).
It is well known that the 240 is big in the world of drifting, which it has proven fantastic for, but it can be used really for any sort of motorsport. The 240SX is just a simple front engine, rear drive chassis with a huge selection of parts available, so the sky is the limit on what can be done with one, but if you are willing to put forth the effort for a car build like the 240 requires then you can have a serious performance machine for not much money at all. If you are more the type who wants to have an already good car to either leave stock or improve slowly, then I suggest you look elsewhere. The 240SX is great if you make it great, but you have to be willing, mechanically skilled, and financially able to do so. It takes commitment, but there are rewards if you do.