At $2,600, Would You Knock Around In This 2004 Dodge Neon SRT-4?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

While it’s important to stay hydrated, today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe hot-shoe Neon went a little too far into the wet and now has an engine knock. The seller says that’s too much for him, but could his price be too much for us.

What is it they say, fool me once, shame of you, fool me twice, shame on me? At $23,700, last Friday’s 1987 Ferrari Testarossa replica wasn’t fooling many into thinking it was a good deal, even if it did seem a decent forgery of the cheese grater Ferrari itself. In the end, imitation wasn’t the sincerest form of the fiduciary, and the car went down in a 77 percent Crack Pipe loss.


You can bet that anyone polishing off a Taco Bell feast that includes an extra-large fountain beverage will likely be able to describe—and perhaps even demonstrate—the difference in properties between liquid and gas. It’s pretty much a given that you don’t want one where the other goes, and visa-versa.

Hydrostatic lock, or the introduction of a less compressible liquid into a mechanical mechanism intended for a gas, can lead to devastating results. In an internal combustion engine those can include bent connecting rods, crushed bearings, and weakened seals up top. It’s bad news all around and is the unfortunate experience that has apparently befallen today’s 2004 Dodge Neon SRT-4.

Now, right off the bat, I find two things amazing about this SRT-4. The first is that it is only mildly modified. Typically, these cars are owned and befouled with aftermarket gimcrackery by their Yo!-bro owners. There’s nothing wrong with that, but much like facial tattoos or supporting Tekashi 6ix9ine, it’s just not my particular bag.


The other amazing aspect of this SRT-4 and Neons in general, is that they were in production in 2004. They would, in fact, continue for an additional year before being replaced by the execrable Caliber on ‘06.


If you’re going to get a Neon, you probably are going to want to get a quick one, and that is the SRT-4. The engine in this model year is a 230 horsepower DOHC 2.4-litre four sitting sidesaddle. That’s been heavily revamped from its chores dragging around PT Cruisers and Stratuses (Strati?). Here it gets thicker webbing on the block, a stronger crank, bigger head bolts, and a structural oil pan. All that along with the T850 five-speed made the SRT-4 a little rocket ship that was as raw and cheap as it was quick and engaging.

And the seller of this one drove it through a puddle deep enough to suck a good bit of water down its AEM intake. I don’t know about you but that sounds like one hell of a puddle. The water was flushed out—likely by pulling the plugs and cranking it over a few times—but as a result of the mishap he says in the ad that the engine now has a “notable knocking sound.”


Now, whenever I hear a notable knocking sound in my car it’s almost always that guy in the trunk. Don’t road rage, people, it will only end in tears; in my trunk; and then a quick trip off a bridge. Just kidding, don’t call the cops..

In the case of this SRT-4 it likely means that the close tolerances Chrysler built into the turbocharged engine have been stretched beyond what might be considered factory specs. That’s bad news and is the impetus behind the car’s attempted sale and its relatively low asking.


The rest of the car looks pretty good. The black paint is shiny and has been liberated of its badging both front and rear. The factory wheels have been painted matte black and are held on with open-ended lugs. The seller says the car suffers no rust, which is good since there’s a big section of paint popped off the hood just above the gunsight grille. That’s kind of nasty looking.


The interior features the heavily bolstered SRT sport seats which are showing wear on both back and lower bolsters as they all do over time. The factory cue ball shifter sprouts from the center console while white-faced gauges spruce up what its arguably one of the cheapest-looking dashes of any modern-era car.


The seller notes a number of engine mods, including fatter injectors, a bigger intercooler and turbo-back exhaust. Those are all fairly minor mods and fairly easy to do with the mill in the car. The newish clutch would have required splitting the engine from gearbox, but that work was apparently done by a shop. Now it has this knocking noise and that’s too much for the current owner to delve into since it would require pulling the motor and digging into it pretty thoroughly. That’s why he’s selling this 110K clean title SRT-4 at a bargain-basement $2,600 price.


Of course cheap doesn’t necessarily mean good deal and it’s now incumbent upon you to decide if this knocking Neon is a deal at that price, or if its seller is going down with this ship.

You decide!


Chicago, IL Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Doug L for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.