I test fit the Audi wheels and design-wise they are spot on. The pepperpot look works well with the car's shape.
Ideally there would be a little bit of suspension drop as the wheel gap will be pronounced, especially in the rear, but the wheel offset is correct and there is no tire sidewall rub onto any suspension components.
When fitting the wheels, I had to pay attention to the lug nuts. Regular lug nuts are not recommended to be used on other than steel wheels, but even trying them on was problematic. The Audi A3 uses wheel bolts instead, with a ball shape as seen from the wheel as well.
Luckily I found ball-shaped lug nuts in correct size from my parts stash, as @Lastsoul suggested the ones left from the Miata BBS should work..
Now I just need four more of them, for 5x100 instead of 4x100.
To reiterate, the choice to run the 195/50R15 tires comes from experience in the earlier rallies. While I could just suck it up and run the stock steelies and 185/65R14 tires, they would just get chewed up on the harsh tarmac on the Baltic stages. Now I can just use up the Federals while they are still decent and have good summer tires for use outside the rally event. If the suspension is lowered, it would have to be such a modest drop that it would not hinder the use of stock tires.
Alright! I managed to score something very special from eBay: a pair of NOS, yellow Koni Sports for the rear of the car. These were 100GBP for the pair, which makes them cheaper than any no-name brand I could source. Really looking forward to getting them fitted.
Obviously this is only half of the job, but since the shocks have been discontinued for ages, I'm really happy to have gotten these. I'll continue to trawl the classifieds for a matching set of front shocks. What's more, these are seemingly tailored especially for the Chrysler Neon judging from the part number being different for Neon Konis for Dodge/Plymouth. The fronts are the same but rears are Chrysler specific. Whether this actually means anything is anyone's guess.
One option for front shocks is the Koni STR.T non-adjustable shock that was introduced as a budget option. They're apparently a little spordy but since they have no adjustability, I'm not so sure how much they offer over the Sachs Supertourings that are already fitted on the car. But yeah, at least those are available. Some US outlets like JEGS sell them for little over $100 per side, which is not hugely unreasonable even if shipping comes on top of that.
I had the local garage guy weld the end of the rocker, swap a shock mount and a front ARB link and take a look a the brakes. The rear drums needed new cylinders and brake lines as everything was falling to pieces, and the front brake is still dragging enough to make the car fail a MOT re-show. My fault for bad time management, but I've been coaxing the Xsara in the meantime and didn't realize the front caliper might actually need parts rather than just taking it out, fiddling with it and putting it back again. A caliper repair kit is now on order, as Neon brake parts are some of the things that aren't just kept on stock at the local parts stores. Still, despite the brake issue, the car drives quite well now that the rear shock isn't clunking and it has actually decent summer tires on (Hankooks off the Xsara). I'm running it on 14-inch steelies and not the Audi wheels yet. The engine definitely has a lot of verve for a 1100kg commuter, even if the throttle response isn't instant like on comparable French cars.
But, some more positive things: I got a big bunch of 1995 and 1996 Neon brochures in the mail! I ordered these before buying the car, but mail has been slow...
So, business as usual: I order shit from the Internet and someone else will fix the car
A repair kit for the Neon's sticking caliper was ordered so that it could be overhauled to function reliably. As we speak, the repair kit is still somewhere in Sweden.
This is because I wanted the car done this week so it wouldn't hinder the progress on the Xsara. I ended up getting a cheap junk caliper from a nearby yard and had that put in place. It was good enough for the car to pass MOT, as it functions as required and the hub no longer heats up like mad.
I also got a discount for the re-re-show at the MOT station as the emissions check was still valid, so there's that.
I had a hilarious little breakdown in the Neon today as I drove north to swap it with the Xsara. After driving for half an hour I stopped at a supermarket to get a cup of coffee. As I returned to the car, there was no power at all. It's like the battery was completely dead, no lights lit up, the dash and starter were out. I thought there had been a short or something inside the battery had degraded to the point it lost electricity.
Nah, it was just a bad battery terminal and a wiggle brought the contact back. Every time there's been an electricity related issue I've thought "Better wiggle the terminal connectors" and that's done nothing. This one time it fixed it!
Have had other cars to worry about, so the Neon has not seen much use during the summer despite having valid MOT. The seeping fuel tank is a concern if I plan to use the car to its full capabilities, so before the weather turns to absolute mess again, I should get into removing the tank and seeing how bad it is. The least ponderous way to go about it is probably a new tank, which can be sourced from Finland for about 150 bucks. I can also order it from Germany for the same cost but with 65 euros on top for shipping, or get one from Rockauto for half price but with a lot of shipping costs on top.
What I've managed to order now is a set of four camber-adjustable lower control arms as I was tipped off that a Rockauto supplier was clearing stock and they were heavily discounted - got four for the price of one and shipping was reasonable. That should help with nailing the rear camber when the car is eventually lowered with the parts I have.