2000 Dodge Neon SE
2.0L SOHC ATX
The first thing done to this car was a PAINT JOB, because it had three different colors to it (silver, black, and red). I wa going to go with red to match the majority of the car, but in the end opted for "Viper" red which is MUCH brighter:
The paint job was far from perfect, but it was cheap, and afterwards it no longer looked "ghetto". The brighter shade of red also detracts from the sloppy workmanship of the paint shop. You have to get up close and personal to see the little flaws, and even then it's not bad. All in all for the price, I'm happy.
The same day that I got the car out of the paint shop I installed the projector headlights. These were Ebay parts, cheap and easy to come by. I steered away from the ricey chrome versions, and instead bought black. Installation of the units was easy, with the exception of the extra accessory lights (the OEM functions were "plug-and-play"). Here you can see the comparison between the aftermarket projector lamp and the OEM headlamp:
The completed installation:
The turn signal area has an additional accesory bulb that I wired up to the the parking lights. I swapped the ugly offwhite bulb it came with for a yellow one to match the turnsignal it sits next to.
The projector area also has three LED's, which I wired into the turn signal, so they blink with it. Looks pretty cool.
The tail lights have a similar styling to the projector headlamps, and are also in black. With no rear badging, these tail lights really change the overall look of the car. These were also Ebay specials. I had bought a different set, but they arrived cracked, and I returned them. I didn't like the styling anyways -- they had a chrome bezel on the inside, and it looked too busy. These are simple, and clean. I think they look great.
The carbon fiber hood went on the day after the car was retrieved from the paint shop. Installation was pretty straightforward. The hood pins took some adjusting over the course of the next couple weeks, but otherwise everything is fine. Between that, the headlights, and the tail lights, I think it really transforms this car from a typical Neon to something that looks very little like a Neon anymore, but slick as hell:
As you can see, the paint shop's sub-par job included lots of overspray on the radiator and hood latch. Since I removed the center airdam logo/bar thingy, I figured that I should fix the overspray problem. Some flat black rattlecanning and a half hour later...
Came out pretty good!
So there I was, surfing Ebay, and I landed on something rare -- a true carbon fiber fuel door. NOT an overlay piece, but an actual CF piece wrapped around a custom piece of sheet steel. I was so in love with the CF hood that I went crazy and bought it. It arrived as one unit w/ hinge... a complete swap.
Getting the bolts off of the original door was easy. Just two of them. But the new part's hinge didn't have tapped threads for the bolts. My cordless drill wasn't charged. I had to press as hard as I could with a screwdriver to tap the virgin holes (har har) and get the bolts to bite and screw in (har har har, cont.). Eventually it worked, and after some slight bending and tweaking, the door fit nicely.
I wanted to do something with the dash to tie in with the paint color. I also wanted to do something with the seats. First came the center dash bezel. I used Krylon Fusion in Flame Red. Three coats later, it came out pretty good.
After that, I went ahead and bought some seat covers from Ebay. I didn't like most of the styles, but these had a nice look to them, and something told me to give them a try. I was glad I did! They came in the bag pictured to the left. It's zippered with a nice handle, and I can reuse it for other things.
This is a complete kit, with front and back seats, seatbelt pads, and a steering wheel cover. I don't like the steering wheel cover, but it matches so I'm using it. There was one on before that, and it had grip bumps on it. It was grey, and I know Autozone has them in red, so I'll swap to one of those soon.
The seat material is very leather-like, and yet stretches to fit. The front seats look GREAT, with the exception of the headrests. The headrest covers don't stretch-fit very well. Neither do the back seat headrests, for that matter. Also, the back seat covers prevent you from putting down the back of the seat for trunk access. Since I rarely use that, it's no big deal, but for those of you who do use it often, you might not want the back covers installed.
The car seats turned out good, for the most part. They really do accent the rest of the car. I think for the price these were a great buy. They are made with high quality, and even came with accessories. I will definitely upgrade to red and black racing seats inthe future, but then they will match the rear covered seats, and all will be well. For now, I still have a far nicer than stock interior.
I went ahead and finished with the dash, painting the two side vents. They came out excellent, and the overall interior look, with dash accents painted and slick seatcovers, is exactly what I had planned.
WHEELS -- 09/16/07
I obtained these wheels awhile back, and I waited until the SRT-4 struts were in so I could run them with larger tires. I painted them black, so I could avoid the "OEM" look of the silvertone. I painted them with 1200-degree ceramic paint in black, which comes out as a semi-gloss. I recommend against Duplicolor wheel coating, as it comes out gritty. What I used is smooth to the touch. My first effort was in the Duplicolor Bronze wheel coating. It looks nice in pictures, but it's rough and gritty in person.
Here they are on the car. I couldn't use them until I installed SRT struts on the Neon, because the non-SRT struts have a lower spring perch. I would have been limited to a 205/40 series tire on the 17" SRT-4 wheels. In my opinion that's not enough rubber. Not only would it increase the chances of bending a wheel on a bumpy road, but the ride would be that much more rough. More rubber means safety for the wheels as well as a little more cushion for a slightly more comfortable ride.
When I put on the SRT-4 struts, I used lowering springs. My car dropped 1.75" in the front, and 2.25" in the rear, which took out some of the "rake" look that Chrysler loves to set their cars up with. The chrome wheels were 16", running 205/55 series tires, and filled the wheel wells nicely after the car was lowered. Of course, the black SRT-4 wheels and tires worked out even nicer on the eyes.
The SRT-4 wheels are 17". OEM tires for these wheels are 205/50 series. I wanted to keep around that sidewall height, but I wanted a little wider of a footprint. I wrapped the SRT-4 wheels in 215/45 series tires. The tires are wider, but still look like a natural fit on these wheels. At a width of 215, a 45 series sidewall is about the same as a 205/50. Atually, it's a little taller.
The SRT-4 wheels and their 215/45-17 tires really accented the lowered car well, filling the wheel well, but leaving enough room for some suspension travel (not as much is needed of course with the stiffer aftermarket springs). The ride is also a little different than the chrome wheels. The shorter sidewall actually allows me to read the road conditions a bit easier through the pedal vibrations. But all that aside, it looks FAR better than before. I'll still bronze powdercoat the wheels at some point, but for awhile, this looks NICE :)
Coilovers - lowered MORE:
The overall look is sportier... total of nearly 3 inches lower than stock, on 17's.....
Page 1: Introduction & Updates
Page 2: Visual Modifications
Page 3: Performance Modifications
Page 4: Wish List
Page 5: The Red Baron in Action