The Truth About Cars » Dodge Neon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:39:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Dodge Neon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1996-plymouth-neon-expresso/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1996-plymouth-neon-expresso/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=669282 The Neon sold in respectable numbers during its 1995-2005 production run, most Detroit cars in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards are 12-15 years old, and so you’ll see many, many Neons in such yards these days. Most of the time, Neons are just junkyard background noise to me as I look for interesting cars to photograph […]

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01 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Neon sold in respectable numbers during its 1995-2005 production run, most Detroit cars in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards are 12-15 years old, and so you’ll see many, many Neons in such yards these days. Most of the time, Neons are just junkyard background noise to me as I look for interesting cars to photograph for this series; I’ll shoot a rare Neon R/T, but that’s about it. Still, something about the dot-com-boom optimism of the Expresso trim level catches my attention, so I paused to document this ’96 in its final parking spot.
05 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were cheap and had a bit more power than their similarly priced imported competitors, but they never built up much of a popular reputation for longevity.
04 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time when 16-valve four-cylinder engines were exotic, as were 5-speeds and fuel injection.
11 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has the automatic, though. Note the cheerful party-style seat fabric.


Because I spend a lot of time watching low-budget race cars clank around road courses, I think of the Neon as a very good cheap racer— quicker and more reliable than most Japanese LeMons cars, and of course there’s that incredible junkyard parts selection. Here’s in-car video from one of those Neons in action.


It’s a pretty hot little number!


Neon-style cuteness was definitely out in the minds of car marketers of the 21st century, and so the Neon’s successor got ads like this. Stupid little fairy!

01 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Question: Will Cuteness Always Equal Sales Death In America? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/question-will-cuteness-always-equal-sales-death-in-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/question-will-cuteness-always-equal-sales-death-in-america/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 17:20:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=449729 One of the key lessons learned by American automobile marketers in the 1990s was: friendly cars flop, aggressive cars sell. Have they learned this lesson too well? The Neon should have been a home run for Chrysler, with its all-Detroit, no-Mitsubishi-or-Simca ancestry and Civic/Corolla-beating bang-for-buck specs. This was not the case, and the Neon went […]

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One of the key lessons learned by American automobile marketers in the 1990s was: friendly cars flop, aggressive cars sell. Have they learned this lesson too well?

The Neon should have been a home run for Chrysler, with its all-Detroit, no-Mitsubishi-or-Simca ancestry and Civic/Corolla-beating bang-for-buck specs. This was not the case, and the Neon went on to populate rent-a-car lots and— soon after— junkyards in large quantities. Some blame alleged lack of quality in the Neon, but I’ve always suspected the Neon’s happy “face” and Chrysler’s 1995-96 “Hi!” ad campaign was the bigger factor.
After the defeat of the Evil Empire and the ass-kicking triumph of the Gulf War washed America’s palate clean of the nasty taste of the Fall of Saigon and the Iranian hostage crisis (not to mention the not-quite-ass-kicking farce of Reagan’s only real war), American car shoppers wanted vehicles that looked like victory!
Honda staggered into this new reality with the sugary-sweet-looking del Sol and alienated all the young first-time male car shoppers who had once snapped up CRXs in a frenzy. This was exactly what Honda USA didn’t need on top of Soichiro Honda‘s death, Acura’s lack of a V8, and a weak economy hammering Accord sales. Blame cuteness!
After the “Hi!” debacle, Chrysler decided that the Neon’s replacement would sprout fangs, facial tatts, and a glovebox full of temporary restraining orders. The very name suggested a car that would cold blast its opponents: Caliber!

Just in case there was any lingering doubt about this car’s lack of cuteness, here’s a lug-wrench-to-the-teeth ad for yez. And yet… perhaps the pendulum has swung too far. The broad-brush-strokes glory of the Gulf War and Cold War victories has been replaced by a couple of incomprehensible conflicts that drag on and on and on, and the highways are clogged with increasingly angry-looking machines snarling at one another. Could the focus groups decide that they want friendly after all?

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Junkyard Find: 1998 Dodge Neon R/T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1998-dodge-neon-rt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1998-dodge-neon-rt/#comments Sat, 25 Feb 2012 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=432045 Self-service junkyards, which tend to price parts based on type rather than vehicle of origin, don’t tend to get many “factory hot rod” cars of semi-recent vintage. Such cars usually get snapped up by specialty yards or shops at the auctions where big self-serve yards get their stock, so I did a double-take when I […]

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Self-service junkyards, which tend to price parts based on type rather than vehicle of origin, don’t tend to get many “factory hot rod” cars of semi-recent vintage. Such cars usually get snapped up by specialty yards or shops at the auctions where big self-serve yards get their stock, so I did a double-take when I found this very solid-looking ’98 Neon R/T at my local yard.
The R/T was sort of an “ACR Lite” version of the Neon, with stiffer springs, better transmission gear ratios, and bigger brakes than the regular Neon. Not quite as serious as the ACR, but getting there. Since even Grandma’s base Neon was pretty quick (that is, if Grandma opted for the manual transmission), the R/T was quite the Civic-stomping machine. Every junkyard in the country is practically paved in base Neons (if you don’t count minivans, the Neon is about the most numerous Chrysler product in American junkyards these days), but the numbers are starting to decline slightly as these 10-to-15-year-old cars wear out. I’m sure I’ll see more of the R/T Neons in the near future.
Look out, this one has a K&N sticker on the air cleaner! What’s that, 50 more horsepower?
The 1990s were strange years when it came to upholstery on Chrysler products. This isn’t quite as weird as some of the fabric that went into the Sundance-based Plymouth Duster earlier in the decade, but it’s entertainingly dated.
The Neon’s image suffered from Chrysler’s cuteness-based ad campaigns (which is what led to the super-macho car names and Burly-Scudd-bustin-out-yer-teeth advertising imagery of Chrysler products of the following decade), and so the impressionable young dudes who would have enjoyed breaking parts in Neon R/Ts mostly broke parts in Civics and SE-Rs instead.
Judging from the number of Spec Neon veterans I see dominating 24 Hours of LeMons races, however, it appears that plenty of road-race freaks bought these things.

14 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - Junkyard 1998 Dodge Neon RT - Pictures Courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden rt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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And the Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/and-the-winner-is-17/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/and-the-winner-is-17/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2011 05:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=403389 Zero black flags, zero mechanical problems, and consistent quick laps around Gingerman Raceway’s track all weekend: the formula for the Skid Marks Racing Neon’s victory in Michigan on Sunday. Team Skid Marks’ lead was never very comfortable, once the team took the lead position mid-Saturday, but the Neon managed to keep a few laps ahead […]

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Zero black flags, zero mechanical problems, and consistent quick laps around Gingerman Raceway’s track all weekend: the formula for the Skid Marks Racing Neon’s victory in Michigan on Sunday.

Team Skid Marks’ lead was never very comfortable, once the team took the lead position mid-Saturday, but the Neon managed to keep a few laps ahead of the handful of teams that were chasing it for hour after hour. It looked like the Free Candy Civic would overtake Skid Marks on Sunday, but a wheel hub failure took the Honda out of the Neon’s rear view mirror; likewise, a couple of minor mechanical hassles afflicting the Bucksnort Racing E30 (exhaust dragging and failed hood pin) cost the BMW several crucial minutes in the pits. When you’re up against now-two-time LeMons winner Skid Marks, you can’t afford even the slightest setback. Congratulations, Skid Marks Racing!

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Detroit Irony Day One Wrapup: Neon Leads, Chevette Diesel Still Running, Rent-An-Impala Hits Track http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/detroit-irony-day-one-wrapup-neon-leads-chevette-diesel-still-running-rent-an-impala-hits-track/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/detroit-irony-day-one-wrapup-neon-leads-chevette-diesel-still-running-rent-an-impala-hits-track/#comments Sun, 17 Jul 2011 03:41:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=403256 By the end of the day’s session at Gingerman Raceway, fewer than half the entrants’ cars were still moving under their own power. Hot weather and a punishing race course spelled doom for head gaskets, transmissions, brake calipers, and other critical components, while dehydration and fatigue led many drivers to make errors in judgment that […]

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By the end of the day’s session at Gingerman Raceway, fewer than half the entrants’ cars were still moving under their own power. Hot weather and a punishing race course spelled doom for head gaskets, transmissions, brake calipers, and other critical components, while dehydration and fatigue led many drivers to make errors in judgment that sent them straight to the LeMons Supreme Court Penalty Box. A few teams are now poised to take advantage of the harsh attrition rate, both for the win on laps and the Index of Effluency trophy.

When the green flag waves on Sunday morning, the race leader will be the Skid Marks Racing Dodge Neon. This team, winner of last year’s Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500, hasn’t seen the LeMons Supreme Court’s Penalty Box since… well, ever. They threatened to win the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis, held here in April, and there’s no doubt that they’ve become the team to beat in the Midwest region.

To get an idea of what it’s going to take to catch these guys tomorrow, watch a bit of in-car video from April’s race.

However, the LeMons veterans in the Free Candy Racing Civic are just a few laps back of the Neon, and they don’t appear to be fading away. One stumble by Skid Marks and— fragile Honda head gasket willing— the Pedobear-themed Civic will take over. Meanwhile, the Teutonic E30 hordes aren’t far behind the top two.

Of course, LeMons aficionados know that the real prize is the Index of Effluency, and the Chevette Diesel made quite a strong IOE statement today. This thing is by far the slowest thing on the track, yet its startling reliability has it starting tomorrow’s session in mid-pack. GM cars always have an Index of Effluency advantage, particularly when their British Leyland competition nukes its engine (as occurred with the James Bondo TR7 early in the day).

We can’t say what will happen with the IOE race tomorrow, because some hitherto overlooked hooptie might outshine the Chevette. We can’t count out Speedycop and his Gang of Outlaws, because their ’65 Impala wagon finally made it onto the race track and looks pretty good out there. The morning dawned with the cage not ready, the roof off the car, and no driver’s seat or harnesses installed.

I set up a timelapse camera in the Speedycop pits to record the action; this sequence compresses about eight hours of work into a few minutes.

This mighty wagon looks glorious out there. Powerglide, 283, four-wheel drum brakes, and a trail of rust flakes in its wake. The dead-stock Impala is passing cars out there, including the Chevette, and it may just be able to climb the standings into IOE territory on Sunday. How high in the standings is that? There’s no formula!

The Impala wasn’t ready until late in the day, but it was much more reliable than anyone expected. The only problem was a strut rod that tore out of its rusty moorings. The owner of the car (who is renting it to Speedycop for the weekend) showed up and helped fix the problem with the help of the gas-axe.

The LeMons Supreme Court was kept busy for much of the day, with numerous recidivists getting sidelined for three-hour sentences for getting three black flags. It was too hot to dish out the disco-dancing Macho Man penalty, but we did break out our grimy Teletubby costumes for the Skid Row Teletubby penalty.

We introduced the Sandwich Board Penalty today. The miscreant dons a helmet equipped with a Taiwanese National Anthem car-alarm siren and a sandwich board, then marches around the paddock to the derisive hoots of other racers.

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Detroit LeMons Day One Over: Snow, Madness, Neon Leading http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/detroit-lemons-day-one-over-snow-madness-neon-leading/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/detroit-lemons-day-one-over-snow-madness-neon-leading/#comments Sun, 17 Apr 2011 03:26:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=391575 The temperature dropped to freezing, the wind hit 50 MPH, and the rain turned to snow at the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis 24 Hours of LeMons. Cars spun out in record numbers, and broken cars had to be repaired in frostbitten conditions that would have appalled the harshest Gulag commandant. The battle for the overall […]

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The temperature dropped to freezing, the wind hit 50 MPH, and the rain turned to snow at the Campaign To Prevent Gingervitis 24 Hours of LeMons. Cars spun out in record numbers, and broken cars had to be repaired in frostbitten conditions that would have appalled the harshest Gulag commandant. The battle for the overall lead stayed close all day, with the lead changing hands at least a dozen times.

Just in the first few hours of the day, the race leaders were: Volvo 245, Fiat X1/9, Lexus LS400, Buick LeSabre, Volkswagen Quantum, Dodge Neon, Honda Prelude, Volkswagen Golf. Later on, the wind-whipped snow got bad enough to become a visibility hazard, so LeMons HQ put the kibosh on the session an hour early.

The 1942 Kinner aircraft radial-powered Toyota MR2 made it onto the track soon after the green flag waved, and everyone hoped it would run all weekend. Sadly, its chain drive system failed after one lap.

Either the chain broke and wrapped around the transmission input shaft, breaking off the sprocket, or the shaft failed and took the chain with it. Either way, the whole mess flew apart as the car limped past the Penalty Box, with a noise Judge Sam described as akin to “a clothes washer full of hammers.” Marc, the car’s madman genius builder, says he’ll sort out the problems and bring it back to a future race, and we expect the new, improved Radial MR2 drivetrain to be much more durable.

The leader, by a single lap, at the end of Saturday’s session was the Skid Marks Racing Neon. This car took the overall win at the Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500 last year, and their black-flag-free performance continues here in South Haven. A lot can happen Sunday, and with the top ten cars are all bunched within a 12-lap spread we expect a lot of pressure on the Skid Marks’ drivers.

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