Upgrading my Neon to an Srt-4

Hi cartalk community, I am a 18 year old college student looking to upgrade my dodge neon 2005 to an srt4. I was talking to a couple of friends about it and they recommend just a simple engine swap because I’m on a budget. Does anyone have any tips or recommendations on my project car? I’m relatively new to cars and need help !

I cannot answer your question as I do not work on those things so my opinion is general only. This will be deeper than an engine swap. Exhaust, PCM, wire harness, etc, etc.

It’s going to involve a lot of work, likely a lot of tweaking, and the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the pile of money that it will take to do this for an 18 year old.

My recommendation? Sell the current Neon and buy an SRT-4. Much faster and more than likely a lot cheaper.


Of course they do because they are not paying for something that will not really gain anything . It will still be an old Neon with a different engine. If your state has Emmision inspections you might not pass and then what will you do .

If this thing looks decent and runs fairly well just do cosmetic stuff to it and no one will know you don’t reall have a SRT4 .


The SRT4 has been out of production for 16 years. The model was far more than just the engine. The entire driveline, suspension, engine wiring harness and ECU need changing. The Neon isn’t much more than that itself.

You would be money ahead to sell the Neon and buy an SRT4.


One of the Neon forums has a bunch of posts about this from folks who’ve done the conversion but you need a crashed SRT4 to pull everything from.

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I don’t think a mechanically challenged 18 year old college student on a budget should even think about an engine swap on anything; or listen to likely equally challenged friends.

It’s none of my business, but if this involves that “extra” college student loan money coming into play in that “budget” then spending it on a Neon should not even cross your mind. That would be a mistake that will end up costing you dearly over decades. Guaranteed.


and don’t forget the cost of a engine hoist, tools, parts, where you are going to do the work just to name a few things.

The PT Cruiser GT has the 230 horsepower 2.4 L turbo engine, I have seen these for sale for less than $3000. When you are done you will have a SRT4 clone for about $10,000.

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@ifrazzreal2_177794 I am setting here waiting on my allergy medicine to take effect. To pass time I put ( Dodge Neon for sale ) in Google . Forget doing an upgrade because there are a lot of then including SRT4 listed . The prices were not all that outrageous either . Buying one and even having it shipped to you will be less costly than doing an upgrade.

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Another vote for just doing the cosmetic upgrades to make the car look like an SRT4, without changing anything mechanical. It will be far easier, cheaper, and better in the long run.

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I’m sure all of us here had some hairbrain idea in our youth that involved taking an existing car and transforming it into something cool.

Mine was installing a V8 in the center of a van like the Lil Red Wagon. I KNEW just what to do! How hard could it be?


When I was 17, used car lots had many Chrysler products with 392 Hemi’s for <$300. My plan, buy a Chrysler as a donor car, buy a Bucket T kit, and build it in our dirt driveway!

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I had many ideas when I was younger…but I never even attempted them until I could afford to. This just seems like a money pit.

Upgrading a 16yo car to another 16yo sportier car is not what I’d consider a good idea…especially for a poor college student. Gee…what could go wrong?


There is no such thing as a simple engine swap anymore, especially since electronically controlled engines came around.

Can it be done yes, anything is possible with enough time and money.

Like mentioned above, you’ll need a SRT4 to get ALL the parts from, you’ll need a lot more than just an engine.

Also like mentioned several times, you would be better off financially selling your car and buying a SRT4


thank you for your recommendation

I don’t think Purebred was making a recommendation. That was a thought he had when he was 17 which was not yesterday . A doner vehicle and a T-Bucket Kit is also a costly time consuming endeavor.

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Yep, that was in the late ‘60s.
A T-bucket at a consignment dealer usually is priced way below the build cost.

My advice to the OP is not to put money into upgrading the Neon, but invest your time and money in yourself.
I didn’t have a car as a college student, but I wanted one. I attended a private college 50 miles from home. I looked at the cost of tuition and even with the financial aid I was receiving, it was still high.
There was a state supported university in my home town. Instead of trying to find a higher paying full time summer job, which was difficult in a recession, I chose to go to summer school at the local university and was able to work part time on campus. I did this for two summers and was able to transfer the credits back to the private college and I graduated in three years. By investing in myself, I saved a fourth year of tuition and room and board.
My advice is to maintain the Neon. Invest the time you would spend doing an engine swap in your studies. Use the money you would have spent on modifying the Neon on furthering your education. After you graduate and are into your chosen career, then you can purchase a car that you like.


Not only did I not have a car when I was in college, but for my first two years after graduation I continued to drive my father’s car–on his advice. Dad told me that if I used his car for commuting to work, and carefully saved my money, I would be able to buy a new car w/in a couple of years–for cash–thereby giving myself a more solid fiscal footing for the rest of my life.

Dad walked to work, so he didn’t really use his car during the week, and while I did have to rely on friends for rides on weekends they didn’t seem to mind as I paid for their gas when we went out on the town.

After two years of full-time employment, I bought a beautiful new '71 Charger for cash and because his advice allowed me to become financially stable, I have bought every subsequent car for cash.

If your intention is to install a more powerful engine, make sure the suspension system and brakes are compatible.