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nate_birner
nate_birner New Reader
9/2/10 5:00 p.m.

Which would you prefer? As a daily driver? As an autocrosser? Track day car? Why?

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 Reader
9/2/10 6:00 p.m.

I vote Neon for all three. Not for any reason other than I once owned a Neon, and while it had its issues, it impressed me as a solid car that was fun to drive.

Great gas mileage too!

iceracer
iceracer Dork
9/2/10 6:14 p.m.

ZX2 for the same reasons. The SR is even better.

SVTF
SVTF New Reader
9/2/10 6:20 p.m.

I can't speak for the Neon, but I have a ZX2. Go-fast parts, even from Ford Racing (from the S/R version) are VERY cheap. The car is light and can be made to handle well with the usual suspension goodies.

That said, unless fully gutted to race weight, neither car is too exciting on a track compared to a multi-purpose Focus SVT (which I also have). For about the same money as a ZX2 (again, go-fast parts are cheap) the SVTF is a much more capable car. There's a couple SVT Foci here in the Atlanta craigslist that are under $3k. One for $2500 has a new clutch/cat/Ford Racing suspension already!

Vigo
Vigo HalfDork
9/2/10 6:38 p.m.

Ive only owned the Neon so far but i'd say neon because it's easier to find parts (stock and non-stock) to build one however you want. You could get any neon and literally mix and match to suit your taste.. numerous bumper covers, 2 hoods, different interiors, 2 different stock motors, 4 different stock transmissions, 2 dr or 4dr, 4 lug or 5lug, swaybars, etc. Like the k-cars i love, they are like LEGOs. So much is interchangeable that you can piece together something from all stock parts that almost noone else has and end up with a good performing vehicle for very cheap.

If you dont plan to do all sorts of crap to it id say its a harder decision to make.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar SuperDork
9/2/10 9:57 p.m.

the fords seem sturdier to me. Even cavaliers seem slightly higher quality imo.

Run_Away
Run_Away New Reader
9/2/10 10:21 p.m.

Neon because SRT-4 turbofolds in mint shape can be slapped on for $150 all day long.

92dxman
92dxman HalfDork
9/2/10 11:45 p.m.

I'd vote Zx2 for this throwdown. At one point in my auto add buying spree, I drove both back to back and preferred the Zx2. S/R Eibachs+S/R struts+rear bar from an Escort GT or wagon and you have a good suspension done on the cheap. Add in Mx3 Recaros for max comfort..

I will just look the other way about those SVT Focii in Atlanta land.. Lalalala

Georonimo
Georonimo New Reader
9/3/10 1:35 a.m.

+1 for the ZX2, or any 91+ escort for that matter...

http://www.streetfire.net/video/mercury-tracer-wagon-autocross-run-4-orange-coun_18851.htm Stock 95 wagon with second hand ZX2 S/R struts / H&R springs and some 20 pound a piece 15x7 Borbet wheels (and a custom exhaust leak).

Plus something about having a solid rear beam on the neon really irks me.

93celicaGT2
93celicaGT2 SuperDork
9/3/10 6:47 a.m.

If you're going to compare the best 1st gen Neon, compare the best Escorts.

Escort GT, Escort ZX2 S/R.

I'd pick either Escort over the Neon, but not by a wide margin or anything. Really, i'd pick whichever one you can get in the best shape for the least money.

cghstang
cghstang Reader
9/3/10 6:52 a.m.

As a ZX-2 owner, I highly suggest driving both and going with whichever you like better.

I certainly wouldn't turn down a nice dohc Neon ACR. The one I drove felt much more "planted" than my ZX2, more powerful too.

There seem to be a lot more race prepped Neons floating around than Escorts (ZX2 or otherwise), thanks to their success in showroom stock and then Spec Neon.

monsterbronco
monsterbronco New Reader
9/3/10 9:02 a.m.

As a former zx2 owner.

Once i changed the following from stock: clutch-ACT flywheel-fidanza all eurothane mounts braided brake lines gt 21mm rear sway bar coilovers

i loved the thing. i would get 37-38mpg highway. the low end torque was great. i got to the point i could predictably do lift off oversteer. for autocross i didnt like it the open diff was its greatest downfall. for track day stuff i loved it. it handled well and was able to pull from the apex pretty easily.

from a daily driver stand point. it was short could park pretty much everywhere. the coupe doors allowed you to fit almost anything in it. i would remove to the passenger seat to haul parts around in it.

i drive a mazda 3 now and still miss the zx2.

the car has moved on to a family friend who is working on making it his track toy.

ive never driven the neon, so i cant compare.

Duke
Duke SuperDork
9/3/10 9:39 a.m.

I've never driven a ZX2, but I know they have their followers. But for a track/autox car, as others have said above, you can easily buy retired SSB/C and Spec Neon cars, fully built and usually with spares packages, in the $3000 range. That's a lot of fun for not much money.

cghstang
cghstang Reader
9/3/10 9:45 a.m.
Duke wrote: I've never driven a ZX2, but I know they have their followers. But for a track/autox car, as others have said above, you can easily buy retired SSB/C and Spec Neon cars, fully built and usually with spares packages, in the $3000 range. That's a lot of fun for not much money.

As a perfect example I present $3800 ITA Neon ACR with spares

MCarp22
MCarp22 Reader
9/3/10 10:32 a.m.
Georonimo wrote: Plus something about having a solid rear beam on the neon really irks me.

My neon must have been absent on "get your solid rear beam axle" day.

Perhaps you're thinking of the Cavalier?

My neon was awesome, and she wrought furious punishment upon any ZX2s that were foolish enough to challenge her at an autocross or on the drag strip.

parker
parker New Reader
9/3/10 3:42 p.m.

A DOHC Neon will run circles around an Escort. However, at this point just finding an example of either one that is not completely used up would be the way to go.

Currently my fleet includes: 1998 Neon R/T red sedan 440,000 miles 1998 Neon R/T blue coupe 290,000 miles

SVTF
SVTF New Reader
9/3/10 4:43 p.m.
92dxman wrote: I will just look the other way about those SVT Focii in Atlanta land.. Lalalala

Ah, c'mon - I hate being the only Focus driver at the track events. If there were TWO Foci passing all those BMWs we'd get more respect!

92dxman
92dxman HalfDork
9/3/10 8:44 p.m.

I always wanted an SVT Focii but decided to go the safe appliance new car route and get a Yaris. I do quite a bit of traveling for work sometimes.

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy Reader
9/4/10 7:27 a.m.

I owned a 95 Tracer, which was also my first autocross car. I drove a 99 Neon company car for about a year/20k miles. Stock vs. stock, I'd go with the Neon. Yeah, it felt a little cheaper (that could also be the Plymouth vs. Mercury branding), but performance was a lot better, particularly the handling. Power isn't a fair comparison in these basic models - 88hp in the Scort/Tracer, vs. 132 in the SOHC Neon. Though even the SOHC Neon holds up well to the GT or ZX2 for power.

But I agree with Parker that the trick is finding one not all used up. These were cheap disposable cars, basically, and many of them have already been disposed of, or are almost ready to be. I'd want a backup car if I went with either choice, since neither are quite Honda reliable. So, buy a Neon ACR and an Escort GT and figure out which you like better for yourself.

DrBoost
DrBoost Dork
9/4/10 8:11 a.m.

I've never owned an Escort, mainly because I've driven them and respect my wife too much to make her ever ride in one . I did get a Focus once and after that turd left me stranded on the highway, then my wife was left stranded on the highway just 4 weeks later I decided the Focus had to go, what a $hitbox that was. I like the Neons, they have a sturdy feeling that is lacking in the other two, and tons of racing support. Then there is this obscure saying that's been floating around about there not being a replacement for displacement or something like that???

Stealthtercel
Stealthtercel Reader
9/4/10 8:26 a.m.

Sorry for the thread jack, but...

MCarp, what are those tail lights on your Neon? They look stock, but they're 3-colour.

SVTF
SVTF New Reader
9/4/10 11:23 a.m.

No Konis, but the Ford Racing (Tokico) struts that they put in the S/R version do quite well. Brand new from Ford they are $175 for ALL FOUR! That's the price of just one Koni. For more track capable damping, you'd prolly want coilovers anyway.

I think we need to differentiate between the 91-95 Escort GT discussed above and the ZX2 that the OP asked about. Completely different cars, different engines.

Fresno67
Fresno67 None
9/4/10 1:40 p.m.

I am a Ford guy by nature but gotta admit the ACRs were HOT! Now if I could just keep a tranny (ummmm..... that's TRANSMITION) in one.

iceracer
iceracer Dork
9/4/10 5:45 p.m.

The SR had 143 HP and it is easy with a few bolt ons to add 7 more. With the better suspension of the SR with wider wheels , Hoosier A6's and a 22mm Progress rear bar I have been told that the car shouldn't be that fast at track days. I never had a chance to run against a Neon so I can;t compare. I guess it is a matter of choice. Both are fun cars.

93celicaGT2
93celicaGT2 SuperDork
9/4/10 6:45 p.m.
SVTF wrote: No Konis, but the Ford Racing (Tokico) struts that they put in the S/R version do quite well. Brand new from Ford they are $175 for ALL FOUR! That's the price of just one Koni. For more track capable damping, you'd prolly want coilovers anyway. I think we need to differentiate between the 91-95 Escort GT discussed above and the ZX2 that the OP asked about. Completely different cars, different engines.

There aren't off the shelf Yellows for it, but you can fit Illuminas in there, AWR coilovers are easily adapted, KSport is out there, and yes, the Ford Racing setup.

As for 2nd and 3rd gen being different cars... Not really. Same car, different motor. They're both BG chassis Mazdas.

As for sway bars, endlinks, blah blah blah, it's a wash. Virtually anything you can get for the Neon, you can get for the Escort. Addco makes bars, Suspension Techniques makes bars, Addco makes HUGE endlinks. There's a lot more aftermarket for the Escort than people normally think.

Again, i don't really have a preference between the two cars. But from what i'm seeing on Craigslist these days, your money will buy a lot more Escort than it will Neon.

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