You Got Some Car For Your Money In A 1994 Dodge Neon

Before I begin my rant, let me preface by saying that I know there are a lot of Dodge Neon fans in the world. Yes, you sir and/or madam, you are acknowledged. Now on with the show.


I never understood the appeal of the Dodge Neon. It always seemed like one of those cars that you went out and bought because you'd never heard of anything else. Honda Civic? What's that. Toyota Corolla? No clue. How about a Volkswagen Golf? Nuh uh. You wanted something that both looked and felt like it was made out of plastic. Yes, Dodge gets credit for offering the track-focused ACR version to the general public, but to be honest the mid-90s were sort of that point in old episodes of VH1's Behind the Music when the announcer ominously goes "...and then, he hit rock bottom."

Don't believe me? Both the Neon and the infamously-bad Chrysler Sebring (still being sold in essentially the same form as the Chrysler 200) were introduced for the 1995 model year. Now that's not to say the Chrysler Corporation has been tainted forever – far from it, actually, as we rather liked the 2013 Dodge Charger R/T Daytona. It's just that standards have changed.

Nowadays we look at car options and we know that some of them are ridiculously overpriced. But when buying an economy car back in 1994 you wanted to get as much car for your money as possible. Whereas the Neon was mostly made out of plastic, Dodge decided to offer a lot of standard equipment, such as "steering" and "locks," though not "windows," as you couldn't get the powered variety in the rear. And all that, for only $13,000 in 1994 dollars!

Alright, so that works out to $20,490.88 in 2013 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But hey, you can barely get any car for that kind of money! Right?! That's just a grand less than a Ford Fiesta ST, and who would want that????


So, like I said. Standards have changed.


Or it was one of those cars that you went out and bought because it was less expensive than the Civic or Corolla, with more standard features. Here in Florida, A/C was 'optional equipment' on Civics in 1994, and was an additional line item cost over advertised base price. I don't know that you could make the case that Civics and Corollas of that era were less plasticky than Neons were, either.

I know because my girlfriend at the time bought one brand new (on my advice), and it was a great little car. It outlasted our relationship and she didn't get rid of it until it had almost 200k miles on it.

It was subtle, but the original run of Neons were built in the US (or maybe Canada?) seemed to be better put together when they debuted. I remember looking at some later iterations that were built in Mexico and they somehow seemed more cheaply put together. I visited a Carmax lot that had 3 of them with bad trunk seals that allowed standing water in the spare tire wells. And then of course there were the ones that had notoriously bad paint, I'm sure everyone has seen one, sort of an anemic blueberry color that decided it couldn't bear bonding with the primer the factory shot.

But in 1994, the Neon was several grand cheaper than its competition, with more features, and that's why people bought it, not because they "hadn't heard of anything else".