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Klayfish
Klayfish
5/6/10 9:28 a.m.

I was curious to find out if any of you guys have a lot of experience doing HPDE in a Neon (not the ACR). Long story short, I'm looking for a dirt cheap way to do some HPDE this year. Long term, I'm hoping to pick up a used race car to run. For now, I was thinking about a cheap way to run. I know I've seen Neons on the track before. I've seen good running Neons for sale on CL for under $1000. They're cosmetically ugly (who'd have thunk it…a Neon's paint peeling….), but seem in good mechanical shape. I was thinking about picking one up, pulling crap out of the interior to make it lighter, then going and beating the snot out of it. Anyone else ever tracked a Neon? Is it fun, as cheap cars go?

Raze
Raze HalfDork
5/6/10 9:43 a.m.

I enjoyed an ex-gf's first gen neon, it was a 4 door, but it felt like a damn go-cart. If they've been neglected (oil especially) don't expect the engine to last very long...

as long as you keep it bone stock it'll be a cheap fun car...

if you go adding suspension, brakes, etc go-fast parts, you're better off using a different platform IMO...

don't know where you're located: http://atlanta.craigslist.org/atl/cto/1723671953.html

Rad_Capz
Rad_Capz Reader
5/6/10 10:18 a.m.

Dirt cheap? I rented a Cobalt and used it for a NASA HPDE weekend once when I couldn't get my car ready in time. Buy the extra insurance. LOL

Klayfish
Klayfish New Reader
5/6/10 11:20 a.m.

So did the Cobalt survive in one piece?

Any car I buy now would be left as is, and just go beat on it. I'd like to eventually buy an old Spec Miata or retired ITA/ITB car, but for now, just want something to play with.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver SuperDork
5/6/10 12:06 p.m.

I was at a trackday last weekend watching and was thinking about running one in my 86 325e automatic (E30 BMW), got the impression from several there that it would be so slow as to be unsafe (rolling chicane). (track in question was shenandoah at summit point)

Trying to figure if that is valid or not.

I dont really want to run my mustang at one (too much $$ and sentiment in it, plus twitchy esp setup)

MCarp22
MCarp22 Reader
5/6/10 12:07 p.m.
Klayfish wrote: Anyone else ever tracked a Neon? Is it fun, as cheap cars go?

While not as fast as my hopped up ACR, my beater highline neon was a challenge-priced riot!

CLICK FOR VIDEO

MORE VIDEO NSFW LANGUAGE

7 minute action-packed HPDE video

I would HIGHLY reccomend getting proper swaybars for a neon. My blue car from the videos had the suspension techniques swaybars, cheap sumitomo summer tires, and hawk HP+ brake pads (use the thicker rotors from a 2000 or newer neon).

I'd have added a nitrous kit and taken the car to the challenge if it wasn't totaled in traffic a few weeks later. So sad.

car39
car39 Reader
5/6/10 12:36 p.m.

AARP member school bus driver with hip replacement and cataract surgery, and still pretty darn fast!

AKADriver
AKADriver New Reader
5/6/10 1:06 p.m.
Raze wrote: if you go adding suspension, brakes, etc go-fast parts, you're better off using a different platform IMO...

It can be dirt cheap to add a few basic things that make them really fast, though... hence why they've been perennial Challenge cars. They're actually very good little cars from a performance standpoint, they're just crappy street cars with no resale if you ever decide to get out of it. Buying an old Spec Neon or SSB/SSC car is a good idea. At the very least it'll probably have a set of Konis on it which is probably the one high-dollar item I'd actually buy for a Neon.

I never HPDE'd my '95 Sport Coupe but I autocrossed it. I know a guy who HPDE'd his '98 R/T (which was normally a drag car). When you're driving hard they're every bit as fun and capable as a classic SE-R or an Escort GT.

Raze
Raze HalfDork
5/6/10 1:13 p.m.
AKADriver wrote:
Raze wrote: if you go adding suspension, brakes, etc go-fast parts, you're better off using a different platform IMO...
It can be dirt cheap to add a few basic things that make them really fast, though... hence why they've been perennial Challenge cars. They're actually very good little cars from a performance standpoint, they're just crappy street cars with no resale if you ever decide to get out of it. Buying an old Spec Neon or SSB/SSC car is a good idea. At the very least it'll probably have a set of Konis on it which is probably the one high-dollar item I'd actually buy for a Neon.

I'll give you that, I just meant if you want to keep it real cheap, which is what the OP stated as his primary goal before getting a miata, etc as a track toy, not to dump the money into the Neon, but rather save for the alternative platform which can achieve higher levels of performance for the same money. That being said, if you could get your hands on some good used suspension bits, wheels and tires, strip it bare, it would be one sweet, cheap ride...

HappyJack
HappyJack New Reader
5/6/10 1:41 p.m.

I raced one as a circle track racer. Bolt a SOHC head on to a DOHC bottom end. They bolt up, and it raises your compression (and HP). The 5 speed tranny from a DOHC has a higher final drive too (3.94 compared to 3.55 IIRC) Depending what you need, second gen trannys will bolt up as well. But some are hydraulic clutches. I can send you a chart showing all the gear ratios and final drives available if interested.

Also avoid the 95 Neons with the 4 bolt pattern, the hubs aren't as strong and tend to blow apart. At least when circle track racing. Another weak spot is the bushing on the shifter. The factory ones are junk, but replacement ones are cheap, and easy to replace. Best I found were called "Booger Bushings"

Hope that helps

Travis_K
Travis_K Dork
5/6/10 2:56 p.m.

Replace the hubs, and the timing belt/water pump and they are pretty reliable. If you plan of keeping it a while and running it on the track they need help to avoid oil starvation. Other than that they are pretty durable.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy Reader
5/6/10 8:55 p.m.

See avatar.

That one is not a budget build, but its reliable and fast. If I was doing a beater track day car, I would catch up on maintainance, then I would order up a pair of Suspension Techniques sway bars, Mopar xx high rate springs from here: http://performancedrivenllc.com/ , and go. At that point, I would wish for the Konis, but thats a lot of dough.

Vigo
Vigo Reader
5/6/10 10:17 p.m.

I loved my neon. They are cheap and quick. I sold mine thinking i would use my 3000 lb turbo/5spd dodge spirit to fill it's role.. bad concept. I miss the neon's lightness, sounds, and tossability.

friedgreencorrado
friedgreencorrado SuperDork
5/6/10 10:17 p.m.
AKADriver wrote:
Raze wrote: if you go adding suspension, brakes, etc go-fast parts, you're better off using a different platform IMO...
It can be dirt cheap to add a few basic things that make them really fast, though... hence why they've been perennial Challenge cars. They're actually very good little cars from a performance standpoint, they're just crappy street cars with no resale if you ever decide to get out of it. Buying an old Spec Neon or SSB/SSC car is a good idea.

x2. The Neons don't seem to be doing very well in SCCA Improved Touring (IIRC, even the SOHC has been classed in ITA), even though they did so well in Showroom Stock (again, IIRC, even the ACRs ran in SSC).

There should still be a bunch of ex-SCCA SS (spelled "cage already installed") Neons out there that haven't been scooped up by the SCCA/NASA crowd yet, and I'll bet you can find one for a song.

Lugnut
Lugnut HalfDork
5/6/10 11:08 p.m.

I think I'm going to pick up a Neon for HPDE. I have been looking at rollbars for my Miata, and I realized I could buy a Neon for the price of a rollbar.

MCarp22
MCarp22 Reader
5/7/10 12:03 a.m.
friedgreencorrado wrote: x2. The Neons don't seem to be doing very well in SCCA Improved Touring (IIRC, even the SOHC has been classed in ITA), even though they did so well in Showroom Stock (again, IIRC, even the ACRs ran in SSC).

Contingency Money.

Klayfish
Klayfish New Reader
5/7/10 7:10 a.m.
Lugnut wrote: I think I'm going to pick up a Neon for HPDE. I have been looking at rollbars for my Miata, and I realized I could buy a Neon for the price of a rollbar.

^^^^^^Exactly. I've got an '06 Miata as my daily driver. The bar for the Miata that bolts in is $800 by itself. You can get a cheaper one if you want to chop up the interior trim panel and mess with the factory roll bar mountings, but I don't want to do that. So I'll spend near beater car money on the Miata before I even put a wheel on the track...not to mention killing its' brakes, tires, etc...and risk wadding up my expensive car.

car39
car39 Reader
5/7/10 7:31 a.m.

Always risk the low cost car.

njansenv
njansenv Reader
5/7/10 7:57 a.m.

I loved my Neons. I ran stock front bar, 22mm Mopar performance rear bar and Mopar performance high-rates on my ACR. It was a lot of fun in the cones, and rotated at will with a lift of the throttle.

Later, the 2.4T fixed the "lack" of power. DOHC head flows very well...I wouldn't consider a SOHC to be an upgrade, despite the increase in compression. Porting the intake on the DOHC car gives significant gains. The 2nd gen "Magnum" SOHC head flows well.

Vigo
Vigo Reader
5/7/10 8:47 a.m.

Its only an upgrade in circle track racing because you cant do much else.

Along those lines, though, if you take the middle layer out of the stock MLS headgasket, that also bumps compression (iirc).

Ive seen a lot of lightly modded DOHC's run high 14s @ low 90s in the 1/4.

My sohc wasnt very modded but had the 3.92 DOHC trans which apparently helped a LOT.

I didnt get a lot of races in it but SVT Focus and 2.3/5spd Mazda3 were among the kills.

iceracer
iceracer Dork
5/7/10 9:29 a.m.

Neons make excellent ice racers too.

Nice thing about HPDE's is that you can run anything as long as it is safe. At Summit Point last fall , there was a fellow with basically a stock mini, the real one. Guy said he new he wouldn't be fast but he was just out to have fun.

jungle
jungle New Reader
5/7/10 4:40 p.m.

http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/reader-rides/846/

friedgreencorrado
friedgreencorrado SuperDork
5/7/10 9:27 p.m.
MCarp22 wrote:
friedgreencorrado wrote: x2. The Neons don't seem to be doing very well in SCCA Improved Touring (IIRC, even the SOHC has been classed in ITA), even though they did so well in Showroom Stock (again, IIRC, even the ACRs ran in SSC).
Contingency Money.

And "trunk kits".

And to the OP, found a link with parts numbers:
http://forums.neons.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=254213

Eb4Prez
Eb4Prez New Reader
5/8/10 10:12 a.m.

Dammit guys, I just got my '03 Impala 9c1 a couple months ago for a daily driver and now you have me looking on CL for a DOHC Neon for under $700!

MCarp22
MCarp22 Reader
5/9/10 12:17 a.m.
friedgreencorrado wrote: And "trunk kits".

The trunk kits were for the non-neon guys to keep up with the neon contingency money.

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