Ever since the smoke of the muscle car era started to clear, American car manufacturers have had an uphill battle trying to regain their footing in the high-performance compact car market, dominated by their European and Japanese counterparts. The age of brutish V8s had given way to the dawn of precision-engineered turbocharged engines packed into featherweight chassis. Chrysler was one such American brand that took up this challenge, their answer to the foreign contenders being the Dodge Neon SRT-4. Not just a Neon with a fancy badge, but a formidable force to be reckoned with, and a tribute to the time-tested American spirit of performance driving.
The Neon SRT-4 stands as Chrysler’s homage to the muscle car ethos, carefully crafted into the shell of a lightweight compact sedan. It’s a peculiar breed of car that combines the charm of American muscle with the agility and practicality of compact imports. This car embodies a philosophy that veers off the beaten path of the traditional rear-wheel-drive muscle car template. Instead, it adopts the front-wheel-drive layout much akin to its overseas rivals, like the Honda Civic Type-R, a well-respected icon in the import performance scene.
“STOP GAWKING. GET GOING. 230 hp. 250 lb.-ft. of torque. 0-60 in 5.8 seconds. Under $22,000. You can gawk but don’t drool on the car, okay?” – The original 2005 Neon SRT4 Brochure
For the hardcore petrolheads, the real magic of the Neon SRT-4 lies under its unassuming hood. A turbocharged 2.4L engine, which boasts a robust 230 horsepower in its stock form, is the beating heart of this machine. Compared to the 219 horsepower of the 2004 Honda Civic Type-R, the Neon SRT-4 clearly holds an advantage, particularly considering the relatively lightweight chassis it is tucked into. It is exactly these attributes that have rendered the Neon SRT-4 an icon among the fans of performance cars and the modified muscle car culture at large.
The Dodge Neon SRT-4 was introduced to the world in 2003 and was in production till 2005, a brief but impressive run. This compact sports car was hailed as a worthy adversary to the likes of the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and the aforementioned Honda Civic Type-R. Motor Trend magazine dubbed the SRT-4 as an “American hot rod for a new generation,” while Car and Driver featured it in their “Ten Best” list for 2003.
The SRT-4 was Chrysler’s endeavor to inject some much-needed vitality into the compact performance market, demonstrating that turbocharged performance wasn’t solely the domain of Japanese and European manufacturers. And boy, did it deliver. It set the performance stage ablaze with its striking balance of power, agility, and affordability.
The SRT4 Turbocharged Engine and Its Performance
Chrysler’s decision to produce a turbocharged performance variant of their compact car wasn’t a first. The 80s had seen Chrysler produce some commendable turbocharged versions, like the Dodge Daytona Turbo Z. This turbo-centric ethos was carried forward into the 21st century with the Neon SRT-4. The heart of this beast, the 2.4L Turbocharged engine, delivered a hefty 230 horsepower, propelling the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. This incredible acceleration catapulted the SRT-4 into the big leagues, proving that Chrysler had indeed struck gold with their new performance compact.
The Front Wheel Drive Layout
A key aspect of the SRT-4’s design that invited much debate was its front-wheel-drive layout. Traditional muscle car enthusiasts might scoff at the idea, citing that real performance cars are rear-wheel driven. However, the FWD layout also brings its own unique advantages to the table. The weight distribution makes the car less prone to oversteer, which in turn makes it more forgiving and easier to handle at the limits for inexperienced drivers. However, the FWD layout is not without its downsides. The most notable of which is the infamous “torque steer,” the tendency of the car to pull to one side under hard acceleration.
Popularity of the Dodge Neon SRT on the Street Scene
In the vibrant world of car modifications, the Dodge Neon SRT-4 holds its own. The car’s affordability and immense tuning potential have made it a popular choice among the tuner crowd. From custom wheels and lowered suspension to comprehensive performance upgrades, the Neon SRT-4 has seen it all. The stock SRT-4 was no slouch, but the real magic begins when the car’s potential is unlocked with some carefully selected modifications.
The Build: The 2004 Dodge Neon SRT4
Stepping into the spotlight today is a unique example of this versatile breed, owned by James Tobias. His 2004 Solar Yellow Dodge Neon SRT4 isn’t just any ordinary SRT4. James’ car is an embodiment of what makes the SRT4 a favorite among car enthusiasts: its potential to be molded into something extraordinary.
The heart of James’ SRT4 has been augmented with Mopar Stage 2 upgrades, inclusive of ‘Toys,’ breathing through a K&N FIPK air intake, and exhaling via a 3” MPX side exit exhaust. A Mopar blue plate Blow Off Valve (BOV) coupled with a massive 4” CX Racing intercooler ensure the turbocharger is always ready to deliver peak performance. The transmission too has seen its share of upgrades, with components like the Maddog STS 50-4, AGP billet shift selector, forged shift fork and pivot ball, and a sturdy ACT XTSS clutch kit.
Handling prowess hasn’t been neglected either. The SRT4 sits on KW v3 Coilovers with custom spring rates, providing exceptional handling capabilities. Progress sway bars on the front and rear, coupled with Pwerks strut brace bars and control arms upgraded with Moog and DCR components, ensure that the car remains composed at all times, whether it’s on a drag strip or a twisty mountain road.
Matching the car’s impressive performance are 17×8.0 OZ Ultraleggera wheels in Satin Black, wrapped in sticky 245/40/17 R888r tires. These not only enhance the visual appeal of the car but also ensure optimum grip on the tarmac, aiding in both acceleration and cornering.
The exterior of the SRT4 has been kept relatively subtle, with a few choice upgrades that accentuate its aggressive demeanor. Morimoto D2S retrofit headlights, a custom MPX SRT4 radiator shroud, a shorty antenna from Torque Solution, and a black SRT4 trunk badge highlight the car’s performance pedigree. The Solar Yellow body is complemented by a 5% Llumar Ceramic window tint, giving the car a stealthy yet flashy appearance.
The interior of the SRT4 is a testament to its performance-focused nature. The Sparco R345 steering wheel hints at the car’s track capabilities, while Lloyds floormats and a Mopar Stage Toys bezel lend a touch of luxury to the otherwise purposeful cabin.
Specs & Mods: 2004 Dodge Neon SRT4 in Solar Yellow color
- Mopar Stage 2 with Toys
- Mopar Blue Plate BOV
- 3” MPX O2 Housing
- 3” MPX Side Exit Exhaust
- CX Racing 4” Intercooler
- K&N FIPK Air Intake
- Torque Solution Motor Mounts (2) and Trans Mount (1)
- Maddog STS 50-4
- AGP Billet Shift Selector
- AGP Forged Shift Fork
- AGP Forged Pivot Ball
- Booger Bushings
- MPX Clutch Pivot Arm
- ACT XTSS Clutch Kit
- ARP Clutch Flexplate Bolts
- Pwerks Front and Rear Strut Brace Bars
- Pwerks Intercooler Crash Bar
- Front Control Arms: Moog Arm w/ new ball joints, sealed spherical vertical bushings, and prothane poly horizontal bushings
- Rear Control Arms: DCR Quiet Ride LCA
- Rear Trailing Arm Bushing – Prothane Poly
- Progress 27mm Front Swaybar with poly bushings and prothane endlinks
- Progress 24mm Rear Swaybar with poly bushings and adjustable heim joint endlinks
- KW v3 Coilovers w/ 340lb/in Front and 228lb/in Rear spring rates
- Ground Control Front and Rear camber plates
- Sparco R345 Wheel w/ hub and spacer
- Lloyds floormats, front/rear/trunk
- Mopar Stage Toys bezel
- Front: TCE Wilwood 13”x1.10 Big Brake Kit with BP10 pads
- Rear: StopTech Slotted Rotors with Hawk HPS pads
- 17×8.0 OZ Ultraleggera in Satin Black
- 245/40/17 R888r Tires
- Morimoto D2S Retrofit Headlights
- MPX SRT4 Radiator Shroud w/ custom brackets
- MPX Silicone Hose Kit (Radiator Hoses, Heater Core Hoses, Oil Cooler Hoses, Turbo Coolant Hose)
- 5% Llumar Ceramic Window Tint
- Black SRT4 trunk badge
- Torque Solution shorty antenna
James Tobias’ 2004 Dodge Neon SRT4 represents a golden era in American performance car history. It’s a beacon of inspiration for the fans of American performance cars of the 2000s. The modifications carried out on this car showcase the immense potential of the Neon SRT4 platform, serving as a testament to the car’s enduring popularity among car enthusiasts. Whether it’s on the street, the drag strip, or a car meet, this Solar Yellow Neon SRT4 is bound to turn heads and ignite conversations.
Table: Dodge Neon SRT-4 Specifications
|Engine Size||Horsepower||Aspiration Type||0-60 Time||Production Numbers||Colors||Price Range (used)|
|2.4L Turbo||230 HP||Turbocharged||5.3 Seconds||Approx. 25,000 (2003-2005)||Flame Red, Black, Bright Silver, Electric Blue, Solar Yellow, etc.||$8,000 – $25,000|
|Engine Size||Horsepower||Aspiration Type||0-60 Time||Production Numbers||Colors||Price Range (used)|
|2.4L Turbo||230 HP||Turbocharged||5.3 Seconds||Approx. 25,000 (2003-2005)||Flame Red, Black, Bright Silver, Electric Blue, Solar Yellow, etc.||$5,000 – $15,000|
Q: How much horsepower does a Dodge Neon SRT-4 have?
A: The stock Dodge Neon SRT-4 boasts 230 horsepower.
Q: What is the 0-60 time for a Dodge Neon SRT-4?
A: The Dodge Neon SRT-4 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds.
Q: What type of drive layout does the Dodge Neon SRT-4 have?
A: The Dodge Neon SRT-4 features a front-wheel-drive layout.
Q: How much does a used Dodge Neon SRT-4 cost?
A: The price range for a used Dodge Neon SRT-4 varies depending on the car’s condition and mileage, but you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000.
Q: How many Dodge Neon SRT-4s were produced?
A: Approximately 25,000 units were made between 2003 and 2005.
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Automotive journalist and technical writer with more than 10 years of experience. Specialized in aftermarket parts and performance modifications. Loves everything on four wheels and obsessed with modified muscle cars, both classic and modern.