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eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
11/11/12 10:08 a.m.

Bought the car and started working on it earlier this year, but decided its time for a build thread. Its a 1998 Dodge Neon Sport Sedan, purchased with about 209K miles, from the original owners. For its miles and age it was in pretty nice shape, and practically rust-free, which is a little hard to find here in Ohio. I've been rallycrossing for years, but this is the first vehicle I've built specifically for rallycross (at least that has actually made it to an event).

The intent was to build it into a PF-class car for this year's rallycross season, so most of the bugs could be worked out of the suspension, then during this coming winter, transform it into an MF-class monster. Why a Neon? Partially inspired by GRM's project Neons, but mostly because I have friends who have rallied and rallycrossed them for quite a while, so there's a large pool of knowledge (and spare parts) for me to tap from.

PF is somewhat limited in what you can do to the drivetrain, and honestly, the rules favor turbocharged cars, so in its original incarnation this year, then engine has been left completely stock. This allowed me to concentrate primarily on handling and making the car more durable.

For the durability factor, not much had to be done. I got a skidplate from a fellow racer who did not need it anymore, and modified it a bit to allow for more air to get into the engine compartment while the car is sitting in the grid. Mid-summer, we (my wife and I, she co-drives) took that car to National Trail Raceway, and promptly broke the exhaust. After a very loud ride home, I discovered that some noises I'd been hearing were from the motor moving around due to trashed motor mounts. I replaced or repaired them all, and filled the voids with Window Weld. For now, the damaged exhaust section was cut out, and replaced with some flex pipe. Also, some bailing wire was wrapped around the exhaust in a couple of spots and wired to the floorboard, to hold the pipe up, if it broke again. During some testing of these fixes, the muffler kept falling down. I added some cotter pins to the exhaust hanger brackets to keep the rubber exhaust hangers from sliding off. It worked great at the last two rallycrosses, so no problems there. Some well used rally tires were installed on the stock rims to cut down on the likelihood of a debead. About a month and a half ago, we switched tires to a set of new DMack soft compound tires. Wow, they've got a lot of grip.

For handling, I wanted to keep the car fairly close to stock ride height, but with a higher spring rate. Good coilovers are out of my budget, so I tried something similar to what GRM did. The car is now sitting on KYB GR2 struts, with Mopar Stage 1 SRT-4 lowering springs. It lifted the front by about 1/2" and the rear by about an 1". The front control arms were rebuilt with poly bushings and new ball joints. Also, quite a bit of the brake components needed to be replaced. With this setup, the car handles very well, though it would be nice to be able to get it to rotate a bit better. That will possibly be addressed this winter.

Some other work was done to make the car a bit easier to drive on a rough surface. Its got a short throw shifter, and we installed a Corbeau Forza seat. I used Corbeau's bracket, but had to cut and reweld it, since it put the seat quite a bit higher than stock.

My wife has been running the car in PF this year, and having a lot of fun. She's had some tough competition from a Focus SVT, and yesterday from a VW Golf. I've been running the car in MF this year, to see how it stacks up to current competition. Handling is up to par, but I need more skill, and the car needs more power. I'm usually losing to a supercharged Golf, or a friend's turbo'd Neon. At least when they don't break. Yesterday, also got beat by an 8th generation Civic Si.

The Future:

The last rallycross of the season for us is Dec 1st. After that, the car goes under the knife. I've been accumulating parts all summer. It will get partially gutted for weight reduction, and the engine/trans will be pulled. I have a LSD waiting to be installed in the trans, and the car is getting a 2.4 from a cloud car (Stratus, Cirrus, Breeze). No difference in stock rated horsepower from the 2.0 DOHC, but about 35 more lb-ft of torque, and it comes on at a much lower RPM. That should allow for far faster corner exits in 2nd gear. The engine will be worked over a little bit, but I want to make sure it doesn't get high strung. I'll be pretty happy with 150 lb-ft/150 HP to the wheels. Overall, I want to build a capable car that is still not a total chore to drive to and from events.

NGTD
NGTD SuperDork
11/11/12 5:53 p.m.
eastsidemav wrote: Mid-summer, we (my wife and I, she co-drives) took that car to National Trail Raceway, and promptly broke the exhaust. After a very loud ride home, I discovered that some noises I'd been hearing were from the motor moving around due to trashed motor mounts.

I know that feeling - I took the entire exhaust downstream of the first cat of my Outback at a rallycross a couple of years ago.

A 3 hr drive with a single cat and a short section of pipe was no fun. I think I damn near got CO2 poisoning. Had to drive the last 1 1/2hr with the windows open on a cool October night.

I will be following this thread, as I would mind getting back into rally-X. (Sold the Outback to buy a WRX that I am DDing - so no rally-X this year.)

irish44j
irish44j UltraDork
11/11/12 8:07 p.m.

Nice! We just finished the WDCR season today (though several of us are running up to York, PA to run with Susquehanna next weekend). You Ohio region guys should come out next year for our 2-day "Conquer the Summit" event next season at Summit Point - 3 great courses, something like 20 100+ second runs in 2 days.

We're pretty low on FWD cars runnign around here (our events are usually 30+ subies, 15-20 e30/rx7/mr2s, and just a couple FWD guys. But Summit courses are really great FWD courses.

Will be following your thread for ideas for my own always-evolving MR build :)

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
11/12/12 6:21 a.m.

Thanks guys. irish44j, I've been following your build with some interest. I had thought about looking for a rear drive car, and might in the future, but the competition is a little stiff in our region. EvanB has the turbo Miata here, and Knurled has an RX-7 he's been developing for a long time. With a driver from another region, it won MR at Nationals this year.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
11/12/12 9:59 a.m.

Picked up a Stratus 2.4 (in pieces) yesterday. Short block, 2 heads, mustang injectors, repinned harness, conversion mounts, and a few other things. I'll need to assess the stuff this week, then see about hitting the junkyard for any more parts I need. At the very least, it'll need a timing cover, and it might need some more of the front accessories.

A quick look last night, makes me think I can get away with honing the cylinders, and new bearings and piston rings for the short block. One of the heads, which is supposedly unused, but had a damaged cam gear from shipping, is probably toast. Enough rust on the cams to make me think galvanic corrosion will have done a number on the cam bearing surface. I haven't gotten a good look at the head that came off the 2.4, but have been assured the cam caps were all put back on in the right place after the cams were removed. If not, I'll deal, since the 2.0 and 2.4 use the same head. I could put new seals on the head thats already in the car if I have to, and drop it on the new engine. Hoping the spare head is good, though.

I like the steel oil pan that comes with this engine, over an aluminum one, a dented pan is better than a cracked one. However, the stratus 2.4 puts the oil filter pretty low. If it all tucks above my skidplate, it'll be fine, if not, it'll be time to source a PT Cruiser oil pan/pump assembly since it tucks up a little higher.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/1/12 8:05 p.m.

The first engine needed more work than I was willing to do, so I found another one, that was still assembled. I'll be prepping it over the next week or two.

More importantly, today was the final rallycross of the season in my region. Did a little damage to the car, possibly to one of the CV joints, but what the heck, season is over, there's time to fix things finally. I also won in MF class for the first time in this car! Admittedly, it appears to be because the two cars I was up against were having problems, but I'll take the win. In the end, finshed third in class for the season, and I'm pretty sure my wife finished 2nd in PF for the season.

Tomorrow, there's a trip to the junkyard planned, to snag an R/T steering rack (16:1 ratio instead of the stock 18:1), as long as the car hasn't been crushed. Need to go anyway, picking up a hood for a friend's rally car.

If all goes well, the 2.4 will be in and running by the end of December. Same for the limited slip. Most of the other tweaks will be made in Jan/Feb. I'm getting afraid I'll still be too underpowered, so the hunt will soon be on for a good SRT-4 turbofold.

Mazda787b
Mazda787b New Reader
12/1/12 9:27 p.m.

What LSD did you pick up? Quaife?

If you're running technical courses, a steering quickener on an 18:1 rack would get you a 9:1 ratio. OR, a Shadow "Firm Feel" rack would give you a 14"1 ratio. Would require shadow tie-rods however.

What FD is in your trans?

Are running a stiffer bobble?

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/2/12 6:20 p.m.

In reply to Mazda787b:

Yup, got a Quaife. I didn't want to deal with tweaking the OBX.

We do run some technical courses in my home region, but we are lucky to have three regions near us with rallycross programs (and possibly a fourth starting next year), so I want faster steering, but not too fast. I thought about the Shadow rack, but settled on the Neon ACR/RT rack for easy availability. However, the yard crushed the RT sometime in the past week, so I missed out on getting one cheap.

Running the stock Sport trans, so its best of both worlds, 3.94 final drive, with a high overdrive, so it still gets mid-30's on the highway.

Haven't done anything with the bobble strut this season, just depended on the firmed up engine mounts. I'll be modifying the stock one, or building a custom one while the car is down, though.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/3/12 2:08 p.m.

Looks like I spoke too soon regarding the results of the event. After the results were reviewed and made official, I took second place in my class. I'm not sure, but I think I've now taken 2nd in MF in every home event I've competed in this season.

andrave
andrave HalfDork
12/3/12 3:04 p.m.
irish44j wrote: Nice! We just finished the WDCR season today (though several of us are running up to York, PA to run with Susquehanna next weekend). You Ohio region guys should come out next year for our 2-day "Conquer the Summit" event next season at Summit Point - 3 great courses, something like 20 100+ second runs in 2 days. We're pretty low on FWD cars runnign around here (our events are usually 30+ subies, 15-20 e30/rx7/mr2s, and just a couple FWD guys. But Summit courses are really great FWD courses. Will be following your thread for ideas for my own always-evolving MR build :)

I live a mile or two from summit and I see the cars that I assume are rallycross cars congregating in town but I've never been able to find any info on the events. I may have a spare aspire I'd like to beat on. do you have any more info or a link or something?

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 HalfDork
12/3/12 9:30 p.m.

i have a home brew solid bobble if youre interested. 7 bucks plust the ride. thats how mych i have invested in it.

irish44j
irish44j UltraDork
12/3/12 10:22 p.m.
andrave wrote:
irish44j wrote: Nice! We just finished the WDCR season today (though several of us are running up to York, PA to run with Susquehanna next weekend). You Ohio region guys should come out next year for our 2-day "Conquer the Summit" event next season at Summit Point - 3 great courses, something like 20 100+ second runs in 2 days. We're pretty low on FWD cars runnign around here (our events are usually 30+ subies, 15-20 e30/rx7/mr2s, and just a couple FWD guys. But Summit courses are really great FWD courses. Will be following your thread for ideas for my own always-evolving MR build :)

I live a mile or two from summit and I see the cars that I assume are rallycross cars congregating in town but I've never been able to find any info on the events. I may have a spare aspire I'd like to beat on. do you have any more info or a link or something?

interesting.....you're probably seeing the guys doing Bolivian Rallysprint on the rallysprint course there - they look more like "rally cars" than we do. Mostly hispanic guys, but it's open to anyone who has a full cage.

Most of the rallycross guys have cars that look fairly stockish on the outside (well, except some of us)...not sure who hangs out in town - many of us just drive up and home before and after events, but IDK what some of the guys do.

here's some info for you: WDCR SCCA page: http://www.wdcr-scca.org/RallyCross/tabid/88/Default.aspx

facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/wdcrrallycross?fref=ts

and there's usually a big thread in the Mid-Atlantic section of NASIOC for the whole season, since there are a lot of subies there.

if you want some info on the rallysprint guys, here's their page: https://www.facebook.com/bolivianrally?fref=ts

irish44j
irish44j UltraDork
12/3/12 10:25 p.m.

PM me if you have any other questions - don't want to (further) whore up mav's thread talking about our local stuff :)

andrave
andrave HalfDork
12/3/12 10:27 p.m.

yeah these seem like they are usually a ton of subarus, with knobbyish tires, mudflaps, tape numbers on the sides. mix of other cars, I think I saw a focus or something the last time. I think there might have been a mustang.

Living in Charles town, I don't always have my finger on the pulse of the track, but I always know what went on earlier that day because the cars/trailers/rigs are always at the restaurants in town. Which frustrates me. Summit does a pretty crappy job about making it easy to find out whats going on at the track, whether its open to the public, and how much it costs to get in.

irish44j
irish44j UltraDork
12/3/12 11:01 p.m.

actually, go to this page: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/wdcprorally/

you can subscribe (little box on the right) and get email updates about everything rallycross/rallysprint/rally related that is going on in the DC area - but the group is mostly about SCCA rallycross at Summit. All info is posted up there, schedules, etc etc...

or just follow my build thread farther down this page, since I always talk about upcoming events at summit

(ok, free thread bump :) )

andrave
andrave HalfDork
12/4/12 10:09 a.m.

cool, subscribed to the group. thanks. (free bump)

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/11/12 6:46 p.m.

I had started working on porting the intake manifold a ways back in my backyard, but the days are getting too short, and its getting a little cold, so I tossed up a quick shelter inside the garage to keep aluminum flakes and powder from getting all over the garage. Oh, and don't worry, the the work light is only there to prop up the plastic, I'm not actually using it for light.

I got directions from neons.org, and have been at this for a while, but running into a few blocks. The dremel and its flex cable can't reach all the way into the runners, and some other parts of the intake. I have managed to cut out the EGR hump, reduced the size of the bumps where the injectors go into the manifold, and cut and smoothed out the casting lines where the runners begin. I am hoping these areas are where most of the gains are. If anyone's got a good idea for getting to more parts of the manifold (without spending too much, or cutting it apart), let me know. At this point, I'm really hoping any improvements I've made outweigh anything I've screwed up.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 HalfDork
12/11/12 7:40 p.m.

doing the EXACT SAME job right now.

blend the sharp edged between the port walls.

enlarge the opening between the plenum and the throttle body: the 90.

widen the entry into the ports on the upper manifold, and taper them to smaller to speed up the air.

did you find the angelfire link?

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/11/12 8:12 p.m.
Dusterbd13 wrote: doing the EXACT SAME job right now. blend the sharp edged between the port walls. enlarge the opening between the plenum and the throttle body: the 90. widen the entry into the ports on the upper manifold, and taper them to smaller to speed up the air. did you find the angelfire link?

I have the doc from angelfire, too. The biggest problem I'm having, is even with the flex shaft, I still can't get the bits into everywhere that seems to be recommended to grind. Also, the sanding drum is way too big to smooth out the grinder marks near any edge.

Got frustrated enough tonight, I switched gears, and JB welded the EGR holes. That forced me to walk away for a bit. Tomorrow after work, I'll be back at it.

Mazda787b
Mazda787b New Reader
12/11/12 8:21 p.m.

Really like that you're not cutting corners with the parts here, looks like a very fun build.

On the manifold, I'd be tempted to leave the lower half almost as-is. A good friend of mine ran the Neon Challenge back in the day and prepped most of the cars, among other things. He told me that the gains were to be had by removing the ridges in the upper portion of the manifold, right where the runners come from the plenum. These cause the air to "tumble" through the runners for a more complete burn, but hurting hp.

The "towers" in the lower help direct air evenly into all cylinders, preventing a lean condition in cyls 3&4. In fact, he kept his lower stock, except for port matching for the throttle body, which he found to be a negligible gain. Also, a PT exhaust manifold has nearly the same flow characteristics as a long tube (TTI, IIRC). These small things will help with getting power in the lower rev ranges.

Yes, completely smoothing the lower or going with a "no-90" may increase peak HP, but driveability and low-end may suffer as a result.

I have a very similar 96 Sedan, among others. Makes me almost want to do the same as you. That, or pick up another beater for the job. Not sure how the neighbors would feel about 4 Neons in the driveway?

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/12/12 8:27 a.m.

In reply to Mazda787b:

This is one of the few builds I've done where "challenge budget" wasn't constantly in the back of my head. Combined with it being the only major project I have right now, I've decided to put some money into it where it needs it, since I want this thing to be nationally competitive.

Oh good, I've already cut those ridges off, and smoothed the path in to the runners.

On the towers in the plenum, apperently someone did some flow bench work, and found cutting down the first one somewhat helps even out the flow between cylinders.

I suspect at this point, I'll get into it again tonight, and grind down any JB weld that may have overflowed into the manifold from the EGR holes, and then do as much cleanup as possible with the sanding drums, and leave everything else as it is now. That way, tomorrow (assuming its not way too cold), I can wash all the loose aluminum out of it, and let it start to dry. Which will free up time tomorrow night to start pulling the front of the engine apart. I figure while its out of the car, its getting a new timing belt and tensioner, water pump, oil pump, front and rear main seals, and oil pan gasket(Since I need to get in there to cut the balance shaft chain).

Still don't know if I'm going to stick with the aluminum oil pain, or switch to the steel one I picked up at the junkyard. In theory, the skidplate should protect everything, but there is something to be said for the oilpan being able to bend instead of crack if it somehow takes a big hit.

Also, my 2.7 V6 clutch came in yesterday. I've driven another neon with one, and its a little grabby, but I'd rather have something that'll take a bit more abuse than the stock clutch.

Jerry
Jerry New Reader
12/12/12 8:40 a.m.
irish44j wrote: We're pretty low on FWD cars runnign around here (our events are usually 30+ subies, 15-20 e30/rx7/mr2s, and just a couple FWD guys. But Summit courses are really great FWD courses.

15-20 RX7 and MR2's?? Our region is mostly Sub's, a few Miatas, 1 RX7 and my MR2. (Sorry Tim, didn't mean to thread-jack. Thanks again for the tires.

Mazda787b
Mazda787b New Reader
12/12/12 9:44 a.m.

Nice! Got a link re: the flow bench thing? Not doubting you, just curious of the results. This is another one of those winter projects that I have on the workbench, waiting for some free time.

I wonder how the 2.7 clutch will work vs a PT in regards to throttle response. You're still on a stock 2.0 right?

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/12/12 9:54 a.m.
Jerry wrote:
irish44j wrote: We're pretty low on FWD cars runnign around here (our events are usually 30+ subies, 15-20 e30/rx7/mr2s, and just a couple FWD guys. But Summit courses are really great FWD courses.
15-20 RX7 and MR2's?? Our region is mostly Sub's, a few Miatas, 1 RX7 and my MR2. (Sorry Tim, didn't mean to thread-jack. Thanks again for the tires.

No prob - sounds like you're and Pete's cars would get lost in the crowd up there :)

eastsidemav
eastsidemav HalfDork
12/12/12 10:02 a.m.
Mazda787b wrote: Nice! Got a link re: the flow bench thing? Not doubting you, just curious of the results. This is another one of those winter projects that I have on the workbench, waiting for some free time. I wonder how the 2.7 clutch will work vs a PT in regards to throttle response. You're still on a stock 2.0 right?

No link to the specific results, just a citation in the porting thread: http://forums.neons.org/viewtopic.php?f=87&t=46685

Its running a 2.0 right now, but when everything comes back together, it'll be a 2.4. The car I drove before with a 2.7 clutch has a 2.0 DOHC with a SRT-4 turbo, and Megasquirt. On normal street driving, there seemed to be a small margin between stalling because the clutch grabbed so fast, and burning the tires because the turbo had spooled up. I'm hoping the 2.4 will be a little bit easier to modulate.

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