As a young and impressionable teen, I spent more than enough time consuming automotive content on YouTube. I’d watch Matt Farah’s One Takes! videos, Top Gear clips, Hoonigan Daily Transmission content, and build series of all kinds, finding enjoyment in seeing what was happening in the world of Automotive YouTube. Even with a seemingly endless supply of content available, over the years\ there is one creator who’s videos I never miss—Adam LZ.
With roots in New England, over the last ten years Adam has created an automotive empire with a loyal following of nearly four million subscribers through his journey progressing in drifting and building cars on his channel. And I can see why, as I find his videos extremely interesting. He and his team do a great job of immersing viewers in a given automotive project, building a relationship between the audience and every car he builds. Viewers are treated to a healthy variety of the automotive spectrum —JDM legends, Porsches, and a wide variety of drift builds—which is likely one of the driving factors behind his success at scale.
When he began transitioning from his early BMX content into the automotive space, Adam created videos pertaining to his first car, an E46 sedan. Through the years he has added many other BMWs to his collection, including an E92 335i, a beautifully modified Laguna Seca E46 M3, a Toyota 1.5JZ then 2JZ-swapped E36-generation 3 Series competition drift car, and nearly countless others.
As of late, he has shifted interest to simple, “seat-time” E36 cars. In an attempt to have a chuckable, no-worries drift car, Adam has stripped out an E36 328i sedan he affectionately calls “Stinky” which he acquired in a two-for-one deal (see the video here. This little 3 Series has become one of the main focuses of his channel over the last few months. He and his team have stripped it down to minimal weight and have sorted it mechanically enough to spin drift laps around the “LZ Compound”, Adam’s fantasy land in Florida. One of Adam’s companies based on the LZ Compound, Drift HQ, has acquired another 328i of their own and given it the same treatment. Having now two E36 drift cars, the group setup different layouts around the compound, drifting in tandem, bashing doors, and having a blast.
This simple “seat time” idea of drifting has sparked other Automotive YouTubers to pick-up cheap E36-generation 3 Series of their own, like Collete Davis and Grant Anderson who have also given new purpose to the chassis.
It has been clear for years that the E36 has been a perfect chassis for drifting. Similar to Nissan’s S chassis, the E36 hit a low in the market and became a cheap used car. It wasn’t uncommon to see some sell for under $1,000. It’s a simple and effective recipe for backlot skids: cheap, rear-wheel drive, a manual transmission, and a sweet sixcylinder engine. In fact, the first three dedicated drift cars I ever saw were E36s. But because they became so cheap, many fell into disrepair, were left uncared for, and were claimed by rust (with rust consuming almost every E36 delivered north of Baltimore). While those baset cases were previously going to the scrap heap, they’re now being saved for simple, care-free, drifting.
This mentality of driving a car until it’s done stems from driftings roots in Japan. The Japanese automotive community has been drifting and doing it properly for decades. The mecca for Japanese drifting (outside of late night, mountain, touge runs) is the Ebisu Circuit in Japan. Ebisu is where drift cars go to heaven. Known for its insane Matsuri drift events, Ebisu hosts hundreds of drifters from around the world to its tracks a few times a year. By no means am I an expert on Ebisu, or drifting in Japan, but I have learned quite a bit from watching Automotive YouTubers visit this historic track.
The Japanese drift community around Ebisu, values simplicity, and drifting for the sake of drifting. There are no fancy cars with massive amounts of power. Instead, there are stock JZX or S chassis vehicles on suspension modified for drifting. The people aren’t there for any other reason than having fun,, learning, and pushing their own personal boundaries. This is a mentality that I find really refreshing.
It is clear that Adam LZ is bringing that same mentality back home to his group of friends. Come as you are, jump in and have fun with your friends. It is especially cool that the E36 is at the center of this chapter in LZ’s drifting journey. So don’t sell that E36 3 Series that’s rotting away in your backyard just yet, It may be subject to the “drift tax” soon enough. —Tucker Beatty