The Dodge Neon is a car that has certainly had its ups and downs from being seen as cheap transportation to fun sport compact cars. This is the same Dodge Neon that gave us the Neon ACR and Neon R/t, and now of course the Neon SRT-4.
In January 2002, Dodge created the Performance Vehicle Operations (PVO) group within the company. This team would later become the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group. They were responsible for developing concept cars into production cars and one of their first tasks was to create something to compete with other manufacturers in the sport compact segment which was just exploding in the early 2000s. As a result, PVO took an old Neon concept car and the SRT-4 was born.
In 2003, the Dodge Neon SRT-4 went on sale and was marketed as a sport compact 4-door sedan. It was built on the Chrysler PL platform and featured a 2.4L inline-four turbocharged engine that could only be sold with a 5-speed manual transmission. It was the second fastest production car in the Chrysler/Dodge lineup, only second to the Dodge Viper. The 2003 model year produced 215 horsepower and 245lb feet of torque, while the 2004 and 2005 models produced 230 horsepower and 250lb feet of torque.
But Dodge didn’t just stop at the engine. They also added a solid transmission, the New Venture Gear T-850 5-speed manual and paired it with a high capacity Sachs performance clutch. Then they put on stiffer springs and SRT-tuned Tokico struts along with front and rear sway bars. The Neon SRT-4 handled extremely well and could still fly down the line too. The 2003 model year did 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds while the 2004 and 2005 models did 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds.
On the inside, Dodge didn’t want to cheap out even though this was sort of an “economical” sport compact. They put Viper SRT-10 seats into the Neon SRT-4 which featured enhanced lumbar and lateral side bolsters to make sure you stayed in your seat during spirited driving. The steering wheel comes finished in a faux carbon fiber along with the shifter. The rest of the interior is clean and kept to only the essentials which is nice as it doesn’t feel cluttere.d
The Dodge Neon SRT-4 delivered the performance the PVO/SRT team was looking for and the public ate it up. Originally, Dodge was forecasting to sell 2,500 units a year but in just the 3 short years of production they sold 25,000 Neon SRT-4s. They also won a ton of awards including Car and Driver’s 2005 John Lingenfelter Memorial Trophy. But not only that, the Neon SRT-4 passed the test required for the race track and would end up doing extremely well in professional racing events such as the SCCA ProRally.
The prices on these are kind of out of whack right now. Due to the price point the Neon SRT-4 once hit, they were often in the hands of those who did not maintain them well. As a result, you can find some Neon SRT-4s that require some work for fairly cheap, like $5,000 to $10,000 range. A good to great condition example will run you in the $15,000-$18,000 range. There is no doubt with the way prices are heading that the Dodge Neon SRT-4 will be a future classic.