Does RWD drifting, feel anything like FWD handbrake turn?

I recently started practicing some handbrake turning in a fwd car
180 turn, 90 turn, etc.

My question is:

Does the “real” drifting, in a RWD car, (by clutch kicking, I’d guess), does it feel anything like handbrake turns?
Is it similar in any way?

PS: I’m pretty inexperienced and new in the world of cars, so I may not understand all the slangs yet

The simple answer is No, it isn’t the same.

Someone has been watching too many old Boot Legger movies .

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With the handbrake turn you’re slowing down (it is braking after all) and rotating rapidly.
With RWD drifting you’re maintaining speed and simply pointing the car in a slightly different direction than it’s actually going (yaw).
Rapid rotation in that case is called spinning out, not drifting.

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Or too many Fast and Furious movies… :wink:

Back in the days of low traction Bias Ply tires, RWD and solid rear axles we called it a “4 wheel drift” to “help you get around the corner” at top speed. The idea was to push the car to the maximum limit of adhesion without losing control and obviously that limit was occasionally passed with bad consequences.

Today with Radial tires, FWD and Independent Suspension “Drifting” makes absolutely no sense, unless tearing up your tires, suspension and possibly crashing your car are your goals.


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No, with a RWD car, you’re actually doing a fair amount of car control with the throttle, you’re adjusting the directional attitude of the car with the amount of throttle you’re giving it at any given moment. You’re still steering with the front wheels of course, but the amount of power being sent to rear wheels will dictate how much rotation you’re going to get. In a FWD car this doesn’t happen to nearly the same degree.

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Drifting is much like what happens when you accelerate too hard while driving on snow with a RWD vehicle like most pickups. The rear wheels start to spin and the tail of the truck will wag or eventually rotate the car sideways. If you steer in the direction the car is sliding you can regain some control and if you carefully maintain the rate of wheelspin you can sometimes go where you want, except you are going sideways. It’s something to practice in an empty parking lot on a snowy day.

Back through the 1950s, the hand brake on Chrysler products was on the driveshaft. These cars were rear wheel drive. How differently would the Chrysler products of the era handle for the moonshiners trying to foil the revenuers as opposed to the emergency brake operating on the rear wheels?

And it’s also trickier to steer with the hand brake than with the throttle.

The other problem with hand brake turns is that many vehicles do not actuate the service brake when you pull the hand brake lever. They actuate a tiny little drum brake hidden inside the regular disc brake. It doesn’t take very long to wear through the shoe on that brake because it’s mainly designed as a parking brake, and as a backup emergency brake that will almost never get used. So playing with hand brake turns too many times will mean you have to replace your brake shoe.

A racetrack near us has driving classes, you might check into something similar.

I loved doing things like that with my pickup. It was powered by four AA batteries. After two weeks it broke.

thanks for reply

If you want something similar to rwd drifting, you should look into Scandinavian flick

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Yeah. But do it in a big parking lot, not on a narrow dirt road like they do it in Norway. The how-to videos make it seem easy to do, but it’s not until you have the technique down. Good way to wrap yourself around a tree.

I would add that an expected, control drift in a wet empty parking lot is a lot different from an unexpected skid. I found that out as I entered a corner too hot on a dirt road at night. Even though I had practiced what to do, I had my foot hovering the brake and it took me all my will power not to push it.

Definitely. But when you’re learning it, you want lots of room around the car so you don’t crack it up. Once you know the techniques you can move to (closed rally) roads. It shouldn’t need to be said, but it does - don’t do it on open public streets because even if you’re Marcus Gronholm, the other people on the road will react badly if you’re sliding around corners like that.