- Nov 26, 2007
- P26L XC70 D5 and a ton of crap
This one has been a long time coming.
I've gradually developed a sympathy for Neons. There's an entire subcontext here how they represent an actually optimistic design in the short valley of Not Terrible, which took place post-Cold War, post-early-1990s recession, but pre-2001. Just to put it short, despite being built to be the cheapest drive-me-to-my-first-job cars, they make the most of what they are. Not to mention the ACR competition group cars, which only utilized a handful of performance mods to successfully be counted among E30s and Miatas in track and parking lot racing.
This thing here is naturally an export spec car, meaning it's a Chrysler Neon and not a Dodge or a Plymouth. This also means it got some goodies the first base USDM Neons didn't, like sway bars front and rear, making it closer to the US Sport version but still far from ACR.
It's also a very early, pre-DaimlerChrysler car as can be seen from the Pentastar logo and the grey bumpers, which are not raw plastic but actually painted in a satin finish. It's an SE model, which can't really mean anything since there's power nothing except mirrors, no A/C and so on. I specifically wanted an early enough car so it would look like this, complete with the bubble design wheel trims. But the most important thing, along with the Strawberry paint that's a great combination with the grey bumpers, is that it's a 5-speed manual. Most of these were auto because it was a no-cost option, and they just don't feel that great to drive. Three speeds is enough information.
I've kept my eye on this very specific example ever since I spotted it at a fuel station 5-6 years ago, or maybe more. It belonged to a little old lady, and I left her my information recently, with the idea she'd call me when it's time to move the Neon on. I got a call in March from her daughter, saying that she would trade cars and the Neon would not be inspected this spring, as her old car would take its place. Perhaps I would be interested?
I certainly was, even if the Coronavirus pandemic put a halt to all plans that involved meeting up with someone who's 80 or so. In addition to that, the Neon's brakes failed the day before the MOT lapsed, meaning it would either need a trailer or sticker plates and some very careful driving. But a couple days ago we arranged so that I'd drive up with a trailer, check out the car, offer a price and most likely grab the car to another good home. I basically haggled 100 euros off the asking price from the other side of the yard and handed over bills that were fresh out of an ATM.
I dropped the Neon off at the place down the road from our house that also had rented me the trailer, and the guy fixed the brakes for little more than half of what I had haggled off the car. It still needs inspection, but I'll get that sorted out soon enough. In the last MOT there were no demerits and the car's only done 2500km since.
Crafted with pride! This is my first Real American Car, too.
Some essential service history: the weak early-model headgasket has been swapped at a dealer some point in the car's life, so that's not a concern. The cambelt has been done in 2014, which means it's not exactly fresh but it only has 20,000 km on it. Front brakes are new, as are front shocks. All shock towers look rust free, and while the car cannot be called rust free, it's not horribly rotten. Door seams have gone and the passenger side sill has been honestly but brutally repaired for MOT a few years back, so I'd say both rocker panels will need looking at but aren't severely rotted yet. I can find a matching set of 1996 doors from a junk yard at a decent price, so it's not worth trying to repair the old ones, but I'd probably keep these on for another salt season. Summer tires are ancient and they very much need replacing, winters seem fine. I have a service kit for the car (oil, filters, plugs) but I'll probably do those at 175k since the oil in the car looks fresh enough. Current reading is a tick under 172,000 km. I also have a box of OEM, 1.5DIN Chrysler head units to replace the Clarion with a cassette-CD combo.
But mainly I'm just happy to finally have gotten this car, since it's something I've had my eyes on for a long time, and now I can actually experience what the Neon feels like to drive and own. I can already say it steers and shifts pretty great, the ride is absolutely fine and the engine seems present and correct.