In The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the fiction is that the hero transplants the powertrain from a Nissan Skyline GT-R into an old Mustang in just one day so he can take on the Drift King that night and prove himself the greatest drifter of them all. In real life, five of the six Mustangs built by the Tokyo Drift production team had American V8s under their hood for reliable power production during filming. Nothing beats a big-inch American V8 when it comes to making power.
Edmunds.com ultimately tested three of the surviving Ford Mustangs — the almost pristine car with the Nissan six and two equipped with 430-cubic-inch Ford Windsor V8s and four-speed "Toploader" manual transmissions. One of the V8 drift cars was clean and ready for show duty, while the other had been battered in every way, but ran strong.
All of the Mustangs in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift had Global West suspension pieces and rack and pinion steering in common. And all three had 245/35R19 front and 275/35R19 rear Toyo Proxes T1R tires and Volk Racing Grey GT-7 wheels keeping them off the ground. However, the intercoolers and massive exhaust tips on the V8 Mustangs were just cosmetic; the exhaust actually exited through Magnaflow mufflers forward of the rear axle.
While the Nissan-powered Mustang responded to a light touch, the muscle-era power plants and transmissions demanded some beating — a sledgehammer would have come in handy. And while the six-cylinder Mustang idled smoothly, the V8 drift cars seemed to be shaking themselves into a puddle of their constituent molecules. Dip into the throttle on either V8 machine, however, and the engine would roar like a startled lion. A six-cylinder turbo engine may match a V8 in measured performance, but it will never have the charisma of a V8.
With at least 375 horsepower on tap, the V8 Tokyo Drift Mustangs could spin their tires with ease — and would, no matter what. The beaten and battered Mustang got to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds and consumed the quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds at 96.7 mph. For a drift car built to bash into other cars while wagging its tail violently, that's not bad.
In fact, there was so much power on tap that evem the drag slicks fitted to the car for the test spun without getting much traction. So while those performance figures are solid, they couldn't match the Skyline-powered Mustang that had enough torque, but not so much as to overwhelm the tires. Beyond that, the dent-free version of the 1967 Ford Mustang blew its fuel pump and was unable to make a complete quarter-mile pass.
So in this case at least, for once the six-cylinder Mustang was quicker than the V8-powered version.