Dodge SRT4 buyer's guide: Everything you need to know

Robert
By Robert Bowen
Aug 31, 2022 | Dodge, Neon, Buyer's Guide, SRT4, Dodge SRT4 | Posted in Buyer's Guides | From the June 2008 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: euroimage.us

[Editor's Note: This article originally ran in the June 2008 issue of Grassroots Motorsports]

Back in 2002, car enthusiasts were finally getting out of the millennial SUV doldrums. Signs of life were just beginning to develop in the sports sedan market after a dry spell that arguably began in 2000, when the last old-school Civic Si and Sentra SE-R models …

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Comments
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jerel77494
jerel77494 New Reader
8/31/22 8:42 a.m.

Hope they replaced the aluminum front hubs. The base model ones were only good for 125 racing miles.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
8/31/22 9:17 a.m.

Step #1. Find one that isnt beat to death.

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
8/31/22 9:57 a.m.

I'm not sure there are any of these cars left. Around 2009 or so, I used to see one or two in town on a regular basis, but a few years after I stopped seeing them altogether. I don't know whether they rusted easily, or inexperienced tuners blew them up, but they were impressively fast little cars..

calteg
calteg SuperDork
8/31/22 1:38 p.m.

I almost bought one about 6 years ago. Then I remembered that I hate Chrysler products with a burning passion. For some reason the turning radius was absolutely horrendous on it when I went to u-turn during the test drive as well. 

As a neon guy, these are thin on the ground in condition worth owning. 

te72
te72 HalfDork
9/1/22 12:04 a.m.

I entertained the idea of buying one in late 2005. The dealership was asking $26k. I ended up buying an 88 Supra, and regretted nothing. That Supra gave me the shakedown, but it was far cheaper in the long run, and a faaaaaar nicer car than any Neon ever could be.

 

All that said? I still respect what they could do, and they still make me take notice of them on the rare occasion I see one in the wild.

aw614
aw614 Reader
9/1/22 8:57 a.m.

I knew of a one owner car that would autocross occasionally back around 2016ish. He didn't appear much older than me, so I think he must have had his SRT4 since he was in late teens/early 20s, but he did mention there were a few other owners like him in the area who kept theirs as a second car in the garage. 

One thing is, the SRT4 seems to trigger a lot of anger from various people.

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
9/1/22 9:37 a.m.

In reply to aw614 :

I seem to recall a lot of young guys getting mad when the SRT was faster than whatever import they were driving - they always fell back to making fun of the car for having crank windows in the rear seats. 

In reply to dannyp84 :

That, or "it's a Mopar" 

trigun7469
trigun7469 UltraDork
9/1/22 1:43 p.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

Do they exist laugh

aw614
aw614 Reader
9/1/22 1:46 p.m.
dannyp84 said:

In reply to aw614 :

I seem to recall a lot of young guys getting mad when the SRT was faster than whatever import they were driving - they always fell back to making fun of the car for having crank windows in the rear seats. 

Cough cough mk4 1.8t nevar lose owners lol

mtn
mtn MegaDork
9/1/22 2:23 p.m.

Friend in high school had one. I think a big part of the problem with them is that they were driven by a lot of kids 16-22. Almost every one I've seen in the last 10 years has been rode hard and put up wet. 

 

That said, it is now 15 years since I drove it, and I still wake up sometimes at 3AM to search for them. It is truly incredible what that little car could do, and I personally like the design quite a bit. And then I look at the condition of all of them, the prices of the ones that are in good condition, the MPG, and the price of premium and realize that it doesn't make much sense whatsoever - and I didn't even mention the torque steer. Additionally, the 90s MOPAR interior (I know it was a 00s interior) would really bother me every time I got in it. 

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
9/1/22 2:46 p.m.
aw614 said:
dannyp84 said:

In reply to aw614 :

I seem to recall a lot of young guys getting mad when the SRT was faster than whatever import they were driving - they always fell back to making fun of the car for having crank windows in the rear seats. 

Cough cough mk4 1.8t nevar lose owners lol

I remember those guys, too! Specifically the one who put a blow off valve on his GLI - apparently they don't run correctly when you do that but I don't think he would've cared even if you tried to tell him, can't hear the haters over that pssshhhh noise. Back then there were some pretty quick 1.8t cars around here, but my roommate at the time was a die hard VR6 apologist, so I got pretty accustomed to hanging out with him while he replaced yet another coil pack..

Turbo_Rev
Turbo_Rev Reader
9/2/22 10:02 a.m.

I worked as a porter at a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Orlando back around 07-08. I remember SRT-8 owners freaking out over valve tap, getting our first redesigned Viper, and the glorious Crossfire SRT-6. Also, crushing the front quarter panel of a "new" beetle with the bumper of a dually 3500. Ah, tender years. 

I remember two things about the SRT-4: one, some service writer said Dodge was going to pull them because teenagers kept killing themselves in them and Dodge didn't like the PR. No idea how true that was but there was at least one Neon wrapped around a light pole every month in the newspaper down there. Fast and the Furious heyday and all that. 

Two, we got two way-past-wrenched-on SRT-4s come in one day from a single owner and they wracked up a huge repair bill. Looked like someone tried to get into tuning turbos without knowing anything about it. I distinctly remember seeing the owner hear the estimate, going "yeah, let me talk to my insurance", and leaving without the cars. The next day, both cars had been stripped down to just about the frames. The security cameras showed they used the spare tires and scissor jacks to lever the cars about and get all 4 wheels off. Owner refused to pick up the phone after that. 

It would be cool to see Dodge take the Dart somewhere but I'm not holding my breath. 

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
9/2/22 7:50 p.m.

Yeah. There are more Renaults left on US roads than there are STR4s. I haven't seen one in about ten years. Sad that the F and F crowd destroyed them all.

RTShadow
RTShadow
9/9/22 12:25 a.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

We are still around! 

There are of course far fewer than there were in the old days.  I've owned mine since brand new, purchased while I was in Iraq, Commemorative Edition 069/200.  The utter hatred for this car in the early days was astonishing, and dare I say, one of the best things about owning one.  I remember leading up to the release of the car, mustang forums, honda forums, NASIOC, the list goes on and on...

"No way will that POS Neon be fast"

Then when it was actually one quick son of a biscuit...

"Yah, but watch, it will blow up, no way that engine handles the horsepower"

But it did, all the way to 400hp reliably without upgrading internals, 500 if you were really brave, but you were a boost spike away from KABOOM if you dared.

Interestingly, the T850 NVG transmission was/is the weak link.  (lots of stories of 3rd gear grind, popout, shredded synchros from a lot of owners).  The engine however, wow, can't say enough about how reliable it has been.  Hundreds of quarter mile trips, never let me down. 

That first 10 years of ownership, most base Neon owners would wave all ecstatic if they saw an SRT4.  Running down WRXs, 350Zs, Mustangs, S2000s, at the track, so much fun, didn't always win, certainly didn't always lose :)

I love reading through the comments here, and they reflect a definite change in opinion in the last 5 years with respect to this car.  As with most platforms, the "15 years and a cloud of dust" is in play with the Neon.  The Neon side of the PL platform shut down in September of 2005 (PT cruisers were still being made for several years however). 

Around 2020 it was nearly a jarring sudden realization that my SRT4 was very lonely.  Oh, I might see a Neon here and there, but almost invariably they didn't notice me like the old days, the driver generally looked like if they could afford anything  else, they wouldn't be in a beat up rusty base model Neon. 

But at car shows it has been quite an interesting change, with the lack of Neons overall there's a lot more interest and surprise that these do exist, so Eric you are correct in the statement that there aren't many left.  But there are some in really good conditions still around!  Hopefully for a lot longer...

WebFootSTi
WebFootSTi New Reader
9/25/22 9:42 p.m.

I considered the 2004 SRT4, but decided to go for the STi instead.  It's still my daily driver.

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