1st Generation Neons FAQ
neons.org 

1.0   Neon Overview

1.1   Neon Models

1.1.1   Neon Base Sedan/Coupe

The original Base Neon was a stripped down economy car, with an asking price under $10,000.  It offered 2-litre performance and a roomy interior for not much more than a Hyundai.

The true Base car came with a manual transmission, SOHC engine, manual steering, no air conditioning, 13-inch wheels, and the SDA suspension (no swaybars).
However, most cars were ordered with either A/C or automatic transmission, either of which included an upgrade to the better-handling SDC suspension (with front swaybar).

The Base interior had flat seats with little side support and no separate headrests. The interior was finished in plain tweed upholstery, and there was minimal sound insulation (less tar sheet; no trunk liner) .  Many options, such as fold-down rear seats, were not available.  Because of this, the Base car was the lightest Neon model, and so was used as the starting point for the racing-oriented ACR.

The Base Neon was only available as a Sedan until the 1996 m/y, when the Base Coupe joined the lineup.
The Base model (Sedan and Coupe) was discontinued for the 1998 m/y.  This is in keeping with the long-standing auto industry tradition of bringing in a new model at the top of the line (the R/T at that time), and dropping cars from the bottom of the line.
 
Neon Base Sedan
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995 1996 1997 1998/9
Engine SOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC n/a
Transmission ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX n/a
Suspension SDA or SDC SDC SDC SDC n/a
Brakes BRC or BRH BRC or BRH BRA or BRF BRA or BRF n/a
Seat Type Base Base Base Base n/a
Tachometer Optional Optional Optional Optional n/a
Hood Flat Flat Flat Flat n/a
Fascia Molded grey Molded grey Molded color Molded color n/a
Wheels 13" 4-lug 13" 5-lug 14" 5-lug 14" 5-lug n/a
Neon Base Coupe
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995 1996 1997 1998/9
Engine n/a n/a SOHC SOHC n/a
Transmission n/a n/a ATX or MTX ATX or MTX n/a
Suspension n/a n/a SDC SDC n/a
Brakes n/a n/a BRA or BRF BRA or BRF n/a
Seat Type n/a n/a Base Base n/a
Tachometer n/a n/a Optional Optional n/a
Hood n/a n/a Flat Flat n/a
Fascia n/a n/a Molded color Molded color n/a
Wheels n/a n/a 14" 5-lug 14" 5-lug n/a

 


1.1.2   Neon Highline Sedan/Coupe

The Highline is the mainstream Neon, and the rollout splash featured a white-on-white Highline Sedan, with 14-inch "bubble" wheelcovers and a roof rack, all of which alluded to the Neon concept vehicle that had attracted attention a few years previously.  Air conditioning was standard, and other comfort options were available such as cruise control.  13-inch wheels were standard, but most cars came with the 14-inch upgrade and the previously mentioned bubble wheelcovers.  All Highlines have the SDC (Touring) suspension, with front swaybar only.

The Highline interior features more contoured seats than the Base model, with plusher upholstery and the split fold-down rear seat. Additional sound-deadening insulation was included.  The 1995 ACR Coupe was built on the Highline, as are all 1998-99 m/y ACRs.

The Highline was originally available only as a Sedan, which began production in January of 1994.  The Highline Coupe came online as a 1995 model, with production starting around August of 1994.

 

Neon Highline Sedan
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995 1996 1997 1998/9
Engine SOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC or DOHC
Transmission ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX
Suspension SDC SDC SDC SDC SDC
Brakes BRC or BRH BRJ or BRA BRA or BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF
Seat Type Highline Highline Highline Highline Highline
Tachometer Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional
Hood Flat Flat Flat Flat Flat or bulge
Fascia Molded grey or painted Molded color or painted Molded color or painted Molded color Molded color
Wheels 13" 4-lug,
14" 4-lug
13" 5-lug,
14" 5-lug
14" 5-lug 14" 5-lug 14" 5-lug
Neon Highline Coupe
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995 1996 1997 1998/9
Engine n/a SOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC or DOHC
Transmission n/a ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX
Suspension n/a SDC SDC SDC SDC
Brakes n/a BRJ or BRA BRA or BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF
Seat Type n/a Highline Highline Highline Highline
Tachometer n/a Optional Optional Optional Optional
Hood n/a Flat Flat Flat Flat or bulge
Fascia n/a Molded color or painted Molded color or painted Molded color Molded color
Wheels n/a 13" 5-lug,
14" 5-lug
14" 5-lug 14" 5-lug 14" 5-lug

 


1.1.3    Neon Sport Sedan/Coupe

The Neon Sport debuted as the top-of-the line model.  Most of the features that were optional on other cars were standard for the Sport, such as antilock brakes and 14-inch wheels.  Very early Sports had steel wheels; alloys became standard when the Sport Coupe appeared in late 1994.  Other identifying factors are the special fascia with fog lights; when the DOHC appeared, all Sports received the "power bulge" hood, even for SOHCs.

The Sport line has undergone more changes than any other.  Like all Neons, it was originally available only as the SOHC-powered Sedan.  This car had the same SDC (Touring) suspension as the Highline.  The Sport Coupe, which appeared at the end of 1994, was a somewhat different animal.  While keeping all of the standard Sport features, it added standard DOHC (which could be deleted for credit) and performance ratio gearing for manual transmission cars.  It also featured the SDE (Sport) suspension, with stiffer struts (not quite the ACR competition-stiff units), front and rear swaybars, and the slightly quicker steering ratio found on the ACR.

For 1997 and up, the Sport became an option package for the Highline, offered by Dodge only, rather than an individual model available from both Dodge & Plymouth. The option package is similar to the '96 Expresso, though the newer style alloy wheels are optional and are silver on non-white cars. 

 

Neon Sport Sedan
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995 1996 1997
Option package for Highline
1998/9
Option package for Highline
Engine SOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC or DOHC DOHC
Transmission ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX or MTX ATX, MTX or Perf. MTX 'B' ATX or Perf. MTX 'B'
Suspension SDC SDC SDC SDC SDC
Brakes BRC or BRH BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF
Seat Type Highline Sport Sport Sport Sport
Tachometer Standard Standard Standard Optional Standard
Hood Flat Bulge Bulge Bulge Bulge
Fascia Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights
Wheels 14" 4-lug, steel 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, steel or 
alloy II
14" 5-lug, steel or 
alloy II
Neon Sport Coupe
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995 1996 1997
Option package for Highline
1998/9
Option package for Highline
Engine n/a DOHC (standard)
or SOHC (optional)
DOHC (standard)
or SOHC (optional)
DOHC or SOHC DOHC
Transmission n/a ATX, MTX or Perf. MTX 'B' ATX, MTX or Perf. MTX 'B' ATX, MTX or Perf. MTX 'B' ATX or Perf. MTX 'B'
Suspension n/a SDE SDE SDC SDC
Brakes n/a BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF
Seat Type n/a Sport Sport Sport Sport
Tachometer n/a Standard Standard Standard Standard
Hood n/a Bulge Bulge Bulge Bulge
Fascia n/a Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights
Wheels n/a 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, steel or
alloy II
14" 5-lug, steel or 
alloy II

 


1.1.4    Neon ACR Sedan/Coupe

When the Neon was introduced in 1994, Chrysler decided for some fortunate reason to make a splash in SCCA racing and autocross.  The Neon ACR was developed as a race-ready (just add rollcage), low cost machine, using as few special parts as possible.   So that the first production run would wind up on the track, not the street, buyers were required to hold an SCCA membership.  This original '1994-1/2' batch consisted of 182 SOHC-powered ACR sedans.  Chrysler also sweetened the pot with substantial contingency money for ACR racers.

The original ACR was built on the Base Sedan, and the only factory option was the rear defroster.  A/C and radio were not available, nor were the rest of the luxury or convenience options.  In keeping with its mission, the ACR has never been available with an automatic transmission or antilock brakes.  After the initial production run, the ACR package (also known as the Competition Group) joined the regular lineup, so A/C and radio became options.  Non-SCCA folks were allowed to join the fun, as well.

ACRs have several distinguishing features.  Foremost is the SDK (Competition) suspension with front and rear swaybars and very stiff struts, to bring handling up to racetrack strength.  The steering ratio is quicker than standard, and brakes are four-wheel disc. In early 1995, ACR construction changed to include hubs 10mm thick (compared to the stock 8mm) to accommodate road racing stresses. The manual transmission has both a lower final drive ratio and a lower fifth gear for better acceleration.  All ACRs get the oversized radiator from the air conditioned car.

All ACR Sedans have the SOHC engine; all Coupes get the DOHC These engine choices have never varied throughout the life of the ACR, to avoid reclassification for SCCA road racing use.

Most ACRs were built on the Base chassis, to take advantage of the weight savings of minimal insulation or luxury options.  The ACR Coupe started production in the '95 m/y using the Highline chassis (see the Base model history), then changed to the Base Coupe for '96 and '97 m/ys.  All '98 and the few '99 m/y ACRs (Sedan and Coupe) use the Highline chassis, since the Base car was discontinued.  Outside, the ACR has the Sport front fascia with empty foglight holes.  Side moldings were not available from the factory, but sometimes added at the dealer.  The interior was originally Base or Highline style (depending on the chassis);  in the '96 m/y, the ANC option added a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, as well as the Sport seats (with better lateral support) and Flash upholstery.  ANC is now the standard interior since the Base car was discontinued in the '98 m/y.

The ACR designation has come to be known as "American Club Racing".  However, it was originally just the sales code and has no actual significance.  The same is true of the ANC interior, which is popularly held to mean "American National Champion".

 

Neon ACR Sedan
Year 1994 (95 m/y,
built on Base chassis)
1995
(on Base chassis)
1996
(on Base chassis)
1997
(on Base chassis)
1998/9
(on Highline chassis)
Engine SOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC
Transmission Perf. MTX 'A' Perf. MTX 'A' Perf. MTX 'A' Perf. MTX 'A' Perf. MTX 'A'
Suspension SDK SDK SDK SDK SDK
Brakes BRD BRD BRD BRD BRD
Seat Type Base Base Base or ANC Base or ANC ANC
Tachometer Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard
Hood Flat Flat Flat Flat Flat
Fascia Painted, w/ light holes Painted, w/ light holes Painted, w/ light holes Painted, w/ light holes Painted, w/ light holes
Wheels 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, alloy II 14" 5-lug, 
alloy II
Neon ACR Coupe
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995
(on Highline chassis)
1996
(on Base chassis)
1997
(on Base chassis)
1998/9
(on Highline chassis)
Engine n/a DOHC DOHC DOHC DOHC
Transmission n/a Perf. MTX 'A' Perf. MTX 'A' Perf. MTX 'A' Perf. MTX 'A'
Suspension n/a SDK SDK SDK SDK
Brakes n/a BRD BRD BRD BRD
Seat Type n/a Highline Base or ANC Base or ANC ANC
Tachometer n/a Standard Standard Standard Standard
Hood n/a Bulge Bulge Bulge Bulge
Fascia n/a Painted, w/ light holes Painted, w/ light holes Painted, w/ light holes Painted, w/ light holes
Wheels n/a 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, alloy I 14" 5-lug, alloy II 14" 5-lug, 
alloy II

 


1.1.5    Neon Expresso Sedan/Coupe

In the 1996 m/y, Chrysler introduced the Expresso option package for both Dodge & Plymouth, based on the Highline car.  It had most of the comfort and appearance items of the 94-96 Sport model, though alloy wheels were no longer standard (all '96 Expressos had white bubble wheelcovers or white alloys, regardless of body color), and Coupes used the SDC suspension.  Antilock brakes were optional rather than standard.  The seats were the Sport level, with a special Tango upholstery, also known as "confetti".

In 1997, the Expresso package was discontinued by Dodge, who replaced the Expresso's spot in the Dodge lineup with the Highline-based Sport package. However, Plymouth continued to offer its Expresso package through the end of the run in 1999.

Neon Expresso Sedan
Year 1995 1996 1997 1998/9
Engine n/a SOHC SOHC or DOHC DOHC
Transmission n/a ATX or MTX ATX, MTX or Perf. MTX 'B' ATX or Perf. MTX 'B'
Suspension n/a SDC SDC SDC
Brakes n/a BRA or BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF
Seat Type n/a Sport Flash Sport Sport
Tachometer n/a Standard Optional Standard
Hood n/a Bulge Bulge Bulge
Fascia n/a Molded color Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights
Wheels n/a 14" 5-lug, steel 14" 5-lug, steel or alloy II 14" 5-lug, steel or alloy II
Neon Expresso Coupe
Year 1995 1996 1997 1998/9
Engine n/a SOHC DOHC or SOHC DOHC
Transmission n/a ATX or MTX ATX, MTX or Perf. MTX 'B' ATX or Perf. MTX 'B'
Suspension n/a SDC SDC SDC
Brakes n/a BRA or BRF BRA or BRF BRA or BRF
Seat Type n/a Sport Flash Sport Sport
Tachometer n/a Standard Standard Standard
Hood n/a Bulge Bulge Bulge
Fascia n/a Molded color Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights
Wheels n/a 14" 5-lug, steel 14" 5-lug, steel or
alloy II
14" 5-lug, steel or 
alloy II

 


1.1.6    Neon R/T Sedan & Coupe

The Dodge Neon R/T, with its distinctive 'skunk stripes', was introduced to enthusiasts at the Neon97 get-together in July of 1997.  That fall it appeared at dealers as a '98 model.  The R/T designation is a Mopar tradition, indicating a performance model of a given car, often introduced toward the end of the design run.  This car is similar to the ACR in many ways, but includes the comfort options available in the Sport package.  Luxury items include standard leather-wrapped steering wheel & shifter, as well as optional power windows, locks, and mirrors.

Unlike the original Sport, both R/T Sedans and Coupes use the SDE (Sport) suspension, which was revived for this application.  It is the stiffest, most aggressive handling package short of the ACR's competition tuning.  R/Ts are only available with the DOHC engine & performance "A" manual transmission.  Antilock brakes are optional.

R/Ts are available in only four colors: Flame Red with silver stripes, Black with silver stripes, Intense Blue with silver stripes, and Bright White with blue stripes. Stripes can be deleted as an option; however, there is no credit issued against the car's price.

The interior features the Sport-type seats with improved side bolsters and special Tango fabric, also known as "worm tracks".  Originally, this was black with multicolored accents.  Later in the model history, the accents became color-matched to the exterior of the car:
Neon R/T Seat Colors
Body color Seat color
early cars
Seat color
later cars
Flame Red, silver stripes multicolored accents red accents
Black, silver stripes multicolored accents  
Intense Blue, silver stripes multicolored accents blue accents
Bright White, blue stripes multicolored accents blue accents

The Neon Challenge celebrity ACRs were later repainted from their original yellow/black/red and yellow/black/blue color schemes to instead have an R/T appearance.

 

Neon R/T Sedan & Coupe
Year 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Engine n/a n/a n/a DOHC DOHC
Transmission n/a n/a n/a Performance MTX 'A' Performance MTX 'A'
Suspension n/a n/a n/a SDE SDE
Brakes n/a n/a n/a BRD or BRF BRD or BRF
Seat Type n/a n/a n/a Sport Tango Sport Tango
Tachometer n/a n/a n/a Standard Standard
Hood n/a n/a n/a Bulge Bulge
Fascia n/a n/a n/a Painted, with fog lights Painted, with fog lights
Wheels n/a n/a n/a 14" 5-lug, R/T alloy, polished or silver 14" 5-lug, R/T alloy, polished or silver

 


1.1.7    Neon Style Sedan

For the 1998 and 1999 model years, an additional model appeared on Plymouth lots, called the Neon "Style". A variation on the Highline, and essentially the same as the 1996-variety Expresso, the Style offered many of the popular options in one package. The Style was introduced to give Plymouth dealers an exclusive package to offset the Dodge-only R/T.

The Plymouth Style was a special model, the mirror image of the Dodge R/T. It concentrated exclusively on comfort & convenience.  All the power options - windows, locks, and mirrors were standard on the Style. CD changer and leather-wrapped steering wheel & shifter were included as well.

The Style got its own seats, which were the same as the normal low-bolstered "sport" but firmer than the highline seats. The seats were solid-color, lacking the Rumba "confetti". Both agate (grey) and camel (tan/grey) were available for interior colors.

While R/Ts got the DOHC, the Style was only available with the SOHC.  Alloy wheels were available, but most received steel wheels with a special version of the base-model's "gear" hubcaps that had bright chrome faux lugnuts instead of black.

The Style was available only as a sedan. Other Neons during the Style's 98-99 run received black textured door handles, but the Style, R/T, & (98-99) ACR got painted door handles.

The Style appearance was set apart by its body color options. Some Neon colors were not available on the Style; some Style colors were not available on other Neons.

NOT AVAILABLE ON STYLE PACKAGE:
Black, Bright White, Intense Blue Pearl Coat, Bright Jade Pearl Coat, Flame Red, Strawberry Pearl Coat, Alpine Green Pearl Coat, Lapis Blue, Deep Amethyst Pearl Coat.

AVAILABLE ON ANY
Bright Platinum Metallic, Forest Green Pearl Coat

AVAILABLE ON STYLE PACKAGE ONLY
Candy Apple Red Metallic Tint (At extra cost), Champagne Pearl Coat, Deep Slate Pearl Coat, Deep Cranberry Pearl Coat.

--1998 Plymouth brochure

 

Neon Style Sedan
Year 1994 (95 m/y) 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Engine n/a n/a n/a n/a SOHC SOHC
Transmission n/a n/a n/a n/a ATX or MTX ATX or MTX
Suspension n/a n/a n/a n/a SDC SDC
Brakes n/a n/a n/a n/a BRA or BRF BRA or BRF
Seat Type n/a n/a n/a n/a Sport Flash Sport Flash
Tachometer n/a n/a n/a n/a Standard Standard
Hood n/a n/a n/a n/a Bulge Bulge
Fascia n/a n/a n/a n/a Painted Painted
Wheels n/a n/a n/a n/a 14" 5-lug, steel or Alloy 14" 5-lug, steel or Alloy

 


1.1.8    Export Models

First Generation Neons built for export outside North America were not sold as Dodge or Plymouth. They carried the "Chrysler" badge, & had model designations differing from the North American cars.

These cars were almost all fitted with the Export SOHC engine, but a 1.8 litre Export engine was available for markets that had tax advantages for under-2.0 litre cars.

Typical features of export Neons were the SDF suspension, European-spec headlights, electric headlight levelers, folding power mirrors on the doors, & no speed limiter. Other features varied from market to market: for example, right-hand drive cars were manufactured for use in the UK, Australia, & Japan.

 


1.1.9    Neon options

1.1.9.1   Paint color options

Neon Paint Colors
Color Year available Paint code Notes
Nitro Yellow-Green Clearcoat 1995 PF2  
Aqua Pearlcoat 1995 PQK  
Spruce Pearlcoat 1995 PPE  
Light Iris Pearlcoat 1995-97 PC5  
Brilliant Blue Pearlcoat 1995-97 PCH  
Emerald Green Pearlcoat 1995-97 PGS  
Strawberry Pearlcoat 1995-98 PRE  
Lapis Blue Clearcoat 1995-98 PC4  
Flame Red 1995-99 PR4  
Bright White 1995-99 PW7  
Black 1995-99 PX8  
Hunter Green 1996    
Magenta 1996-97 PH1  
Medium Fern Green 1996-97 PJP  
Bright Jade Satin Glow 1996-98 PQM  
Deep Amethyst Pearlcoat 1997-99 PCN  
Candy Apple Red Metallic Tint 1998   Available only on Plymouth Style, at extra cost
Intense Blue Pearlcoat 1998-99 PB3  
Bright Platinum Silver Metallic 1998-99 PS4  
Forest Green Pearlcoat 1998-99 PG8  
Alpine Green Pearlcoat 1998-99 PGT  
Deep Cranberry Pearlcoat 1998-99 PMT Available only on Plymouth Style
Champagne Pearl Metallic 1998-99 PTE Available only on Plymouth Style
Dark Slate Pearlcoat 1998-99 PAW Available only on Plymouth Style
Inferno Red 1999   Available only on Plymouth Style

This section is incomplete.
Color descriptions are from PPG if factory color code is known.

The neons.org website has a page with examples of these colors at forums.neons.org/viewtopic.php?t=265949

Jonathan's Neon Web Page has a list of how many cars per year were produced in each color at   http://neon.atsweb.net/neon_color_production.html


1.1.9.2    Other options

Neon Options
Year Model Option Part # MSRP
         

 


1.1.10    Neon Production Information

1.1.10.1   General

The Neon made its first public appearance as a concept car at the 1991 Detroit Auto Show. This concept car's resemblance to the later production cars was slight - it had sliding, van type doors, a more egg-like silhouette, & rectangular headlights. However, it indicated the size & type of car that was to be produced, & the overall direction that Chrysler intended for development of the car: an inexpensive, economical car adaptable for domestic & export sales.

Two plants were tooled up for manufacture of the Neon: one in Belvidere, IL USA, & another in Toluca, Mexico. The Belvidere plant produced cars for the North American market & overseas export; the Toluca plant produced cars for the North American market only. The cars would initially be sold under both the Dodge & Plymouth names in the USA & Canada; export cars would be badged as Chryslers.

The first production Neon ("Job #1") rolled off the assembly line at the assembly plant on November 10, 1993. The Neon became available January 1st, 1994 as a 4-door SOHC car, the coupe version became available in September, & the DOHC engine debuted in November. The platform which was easily adaptable for export markets was also adaptable for different trim & equipment levels, including models intended for competition use.

1.5 million of the 1st generation Neons were sold by the time the Neon received a major redesign for the 2000 model year. Also in that time, the Neon had amassed an impressive record as a competition car in the SCCA.

The car produced for the 2000 model year & after, called the 2nd generation Neon, had a markedly different appearance & addressed many issues brought up by customers regarding ride comfort.

In 2001, Chryler discontinued the Plymouth name, & the last Plymouth to roll off the assembly line was a 2nd-generation Neon. In 2003, the lineup received a face-lift design change, & a high-performance version of the Dodge Neon featuring a turbocharged 2.4 litre engine was introduced as the SRT-4.

Manufacture of the Neon was discontinued in September, 2005, & its place as Chrysler's small car was taken by the Caliber.

 


1.1.10.2   Neon Production Timeline

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112
Dodge Neon Base Sedan  
Plymouth Neon Base Sedan  
  Dodge Neon Base Coupe  
  Plymouth Neon Base Coupe  
Dodge Neon Highline Sedan Expresso option available Sport option available, no Expresso option
Plymouth Neon Highline Sedan Expresso option available
  Dodge Neon Highline Coupe Expresso option available Sport option available, no Expresso option
  Plymouth Neon Highline Coupe Expresso option available
Dodge Neon Sport Sedan  
Plymouth Neon Sport Sedan  
  Dodge Neon Sport Coupe  
  Plymouth Neon Sport Coupe  
Dodge Neon ACR Sedan (built on Base chassis) Dodge Neon ACR Sedan (built on Highline chassis)
Plymouth Neon ACR Sedan (built on Base chassis) Plymouth Neon ACR Sedan (built on Highline chassis)
  Dodge Neon ACR Coupe
(on Highline chassis)
Dodge Neon ACR Coupe
(built on Base chassis)
Dodge Neon ACR Coupe
(built on Highline chassis)
  Plymouth Neon ACR Coupe
(on Highline chassis)
Plymouth Neon ACR Coupe
(built on Base chassis)
Plymouth Neon ACR Coupe
(built on Highline chassis)
  Dodge Neon R/T Sedan & Coupe
  Plymouth Style Sedan
123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112 123456789101112
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999


1.1.10.3   Neon Production Revisions

Neon Production Changes
Year Revision
(early, unknown date) Early textured, dark grey bumper discontinued, smoother light grey bumper standard on Base models.
late 1994 Alloy wheels become standard on all Sport models.
1995 SOHC cam changed to improve idle, & air intake moved to front of engine as in the DOHC.
late 1995 Standard Neon hubs discontinued for ACR, special hubs with 10mm flange are fitted to ACR until the end of production.
August 1995 Painted door handles standard on Sport Sedans & Sport Coupes.
1996 SOHC PCV valve relocated. SOHC receives new block, is now common with DOHC.
1996 Molded, textured fascias came in Base colors of black, white, red, magenta, & lapis blue available on Base & Highline models of those colors, in addition to painted bumpers for the other colors.
1996 14" wheels become standard on all models.
1996 Only three brake systems available: BRA,BRD, & BRF; others discontinued
1996 Base Suspension (SDA) discontinued.
1996 ACR Coupe no longer built on Highline Coupe chassis, instead built on Base Coupe chassis.
1996 "Free upgrade" as some SOHC cars receive DOHC engines as a result of shortage of SOHC engines at introduction of Plymouth Breeze.
1996 DOHC engine becomes standard for Sport & Expresso models
1996 Belvidere plant switches to installing modular clutch in manual transmissions, Toluca plant contines to use the original clutch until the end of production.
1997 Painted fascias w/ metallic grey accent strip on front & rear discontinued Sport & ACR, only single-color painted fascia made available.
1997 Sport Suspension (SDE) discontinued, until 1998.
1997 Sport Model is discontinued, Sport becomes an option package on the Highline.
1997 Painted door handles discontinued, black handles instead on all models until the R/T & Style in 1998.
1997 Arvin struts discontinued for ACR, & slotted Koni struts fitted instead.
1998 Sport Suspension (SDE) returns, but is available only as standard on R/T.
1998 Brakes: BRA Front Lining changed to Bendix D7913. BRD & BRF Front Lining changed to BBA 2004. BRD/BRF Rear Disc Lining changed to BBA 2006, & proportioning changed.
early 1998 Camber adjustment deleted from all ACR's.
late 1998 Slotted Koni struts discontinued for ACR; non-slotted Koni struts fitted until the end of production.
September 1998 Headgasket changed to MLS type for 1999 m/y SOHC cars; DOHC shortly after.
1999 Both ACR Sedan & Coupe built on Highline chassis until the end of production.

 


1.1.11   Neon Model Questions and Answers

1.1.11.1    Which model Neon is better?

Each Neon has strengths and weaknesses; it depends on your plans for the car.  A normal commuter will be happy with any Neon, due to its good standard equipment level, strong acceleration, and nimble handling.  Racers and autocrossers go for the ACR, often stripped of options.  The rest of us fall somewhere in between.  A few points for each model:

Base:
PRO:    lightweight, basic car; good platform for a racer
CON:    Fewest comfort or appearance items, only SOHC engine

Highline:
PRO:    good equipment level and performance for the price
CON:    least performance-oriented

Sport/Expresso:
PRO:    even more standard comforts than Highline car, bonus appearance items
CON:    slightly heavier than Highline

ACR:
PRO:    best handling package, best acceleration, no automatic available
CON:   stiffest ride, limited options, no automatic available

R/T:
PRO:    better handling package than Highline or newer Sport, better ride and comfort options than ACR, no automatic available
CON:   heavier than ACR, no automatic available

Style:
PRO:    heavily optioned, rare car
CON:   heavy, only SOHC available


1.1.11.2    How can I identify an ACR?

Visually, ACRs are most easily identified by the front fascia, which has foglight holes but no fog lights.  Also, '95-'96 m/y front and rear fascias have the grey stripe of the Sport, though the ACR does not come from the factory with side moldings.  All ACRs have the factory alloy wheels (silver, or white for white cars).  Due to its limited options, the ACR can be mechanically identified using the engine, transmission, and brake system information above.  If it is not as shown on the table, it is not an ACR.

1.1.11.3    Do the empty fog light holes cool the ACR's front brakes?

No.  This is a persistent myth.  If you look, you will see that the wheelwell liner prevents any air from getting through the front fascia to the brakes.  It can be done, but requires cutting and plumbing.  Basically, the front fascia was chosen to provide an identifiable look using an off-the-shelf part.

1.1.11.4    How can I identify a Plymouth Style?


1.1.11.5    What's the story with door handle color?

All early-build '95 m/y Neons had the textured, molded black door handles.  Beginning with the debut of the Sport Coupe in August '95, all Sports received the painted, color-matched handles.  The  Base (thus ACR) and Highline cars kept the molded black door handles.  This lineup continued throughout the '96 m/y.

The painted door handles were discontinued for the '97 m/y; all Neons received the molded black handles.

The Dodge R/T and the Plymouth Style models brought the painted handles back for the '98 and '99 m/ys; ACRs began receiving color-matched handles in the late fall of 1997.  Consequently the door handle color for ACRs of this period varies by build date.  All other Neons through the '99 m/y have black textured door handles.

1.1.11.6    What is the deal with fascia color?

The 1995 m/y Base car had molded, textured grey front and rear fascias (the "buggy bumpers"), which were originally shown on the Neon concept car.  There are actually two types of grey bumpers; the original darker grey was replaced by a smoother, lighter grey as a running change during the first model year.

Highlines and Sports (and thus ACRs) got painted units.  In mid-1995, Highlines began to receive fascias molded in other colors, starting with black, white, and red.  For the 1996 m/y, molded, textured fascias came in the Base colors of black, white, red, magenta, and lapis blue.  Highlines also received these molded fascias;  Highlines of other colors received smooth, painted fascias.

'95 and '96 m/y Sports and ACRs can be identified by painted fascias with a metallic grey accent strip on front and rear.  These were deleted in 1997 and newer cars in favor of one-color painted fascias.

1.1.11.7    How about side moldings?

The Base Neon does not have standard side moldings; metallic grey was the single color choice for the factory-installed optional pieces.

All Highlines were built with painted, color matched side moldings standard.

1995 and 1996 m/y Sports received metallic grey side moldings to coordinate with the fascia accent strips.  The metallic grey was discontinued for 1997 and newer Sports in favor of painted, color matched units.  This occurred when the Sport /Expresso package was optioned onto the Highline model.

No ACR shipped from the factory with side moldings; however, these were sometimes added by the dealer or owner.


1.1.11.8    The tables above say my car is only available with the SOHC, but mine has a DOHC!

The information listed above is for standard or optional engine configurations.  However, the Plymouth Breeze was introduced in the 1996 m/y, and also uses the SOHC engine.  The SOHC's lower-RPM torque peak is important for an automatic transmission, especially in a heavier car like the Breeze.  In response to the shortfall, many Neons slated to receive the SOHC got a free "upgrade" to the DOHC engine.  This began late in the '96 m/y and reached its peak in the '97 m/y.

Eventually, the marketing department got smart and changed the literature to indicate the DOHC as standard for all Sports and Expressos.  The R/T debuted with standard DOHC for both Coupe and Sedan.

The ACR Sedan has remained SOHC in order to maintain the SCCA classifications for Club Racing and autocross.


1.1.11.9    What does "R/T" stand for?

Road/Track.  Not "Road & Track", not "Rally/Time", not "Race/Track", or any of the other Mopar urban myths.


1.1.11.10    What is the size and spacing of the R/T stripes?  Can I complete them or install them myself?

The R/T stripes are 7-1/2 inches wide, and are spaced 3-1/2 inches apart.   The stripes begin at the grille insert, and extend over hood, roof, and trunk deck, terminating above the horizontal band at the base of the decklid (where the floating corners are slightly radiused).  They pass under the car's standard spoiler, which is not striped.

The factory pieces are made of ScotchCal vinyl, which is available at most graphics and sign shops.  The OEM kit can be purchased at the dealer parts counter; however, it is substantially more expensive there.  Many R/T owners complete the "unfinished" stripes by extending them down over the bumpers using matching material.

Vinyl "skunk" stripes are realtively inexpensive and easy to install.  Pre-cut materials for a complete front-to-rear installation can be bought for less than $75, depending on width.  Each stripe needs to be about 16 feet long, no single piece less than four feet long to cover each major panel.  Installation will take two amateurs approximately 6 hours to complete.




1.2   Neon Engines

1.2.1    Single Overhead Cam (SOHC)

The 2.0 litre, SOHC engine was the first Neon engine to be released, & is standard in most U. S. spec Neons.  It was not available in the ACR Coupe or the R/T.  It was available as a deduct option in the Sport Coupe.  Due to a shortage of SOHC engines caused by the introduction of the Plymouth Breeze, many Neons which would have shipped with the SOHC were given a free 'upgrade' to the DOHC.  Also see the Neon Models section for availability of this engine.

1995 m/y SOHCs have a slightly more aggressive cam, and the air intake snorkel is located at the rear of the engine compartment, leading directly into the air box.  During the 1996 m/y, the intake snorkel was made similar to the DOHC unit, with the intake at the front of the engine.  This is less effective due to intake air being warmed as it passes directly over the motor.  Also, to improve idle quality, the cam was detuned slightly.  Both of these changes reduced power output a small amount.

A car equipped with a SOHC engine was fitted with a muffler having a single exhaust outlet.

The SOHC head has not changed significantly throughout the years.  However, the block was made common with the DOHC in the '96 m/y when the PCV valve was relocated.

1.2.2    Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC)

The 2.0 litre, DOHC engine is standard in the ACR Coupe, Sport, and the R/T.  It was standard, but often deleted for credit, in the '95/'96 m/y Sport Coupe.  Due to a shortage of SOHC engines caused by the introduction of the Plymouth Breeze, many Neons which would have shipped with the SOHC were given a free 'upgrade' to the DOHC.  Also see the Neon Models section for availability of this engine.

A car equipped with a DOHC engine was fitted with a muffler having dual exhaust outlets.

The DOHC engine, both head and block, has remained largely unchanged since its introduction, except for minor improvements to the wiring harness.

1.2.3    TLEV Low Emissions (SOHC)

The TLEV (Transitional Low Emissions Vehicle) 2.0 litre, SOHC engine is standard in California, Massachusetts (and other states with low-emissions laws) on automatic transmission vehicles.  It has been detuned slightly to 129 hp, to improve emissions levels.  The compression ratio is reduced to 9.3 to 1, rather than the standard 9.8 to 1.

1.2.4    Export (SOHC)

The export Neon uses the 2.0 litre, SOHC engine.  Horsepower and torque are each down 1 point, to 131 hp and 128 ft/lbs.  Other than that, the engine is almost entirely the same as the regular U.S. version.  The 2.0 litre engine is available with either the automatic or manual transmissions.  Curiously, the Chrysler UK brochure lists the automatic as a full second faster than the manual in the 0-60 mph run.

In addition to the 2.0, there is a 1.8 litre version of the same engine for countries where there is a tax advantage to being in the under-2-litre class.  This engine is not available with the automatic transmission, but comes with the performance manual transmission from the ACR.  (1.8 litre Neon information courtesy of Aaron Mihe and the Export Neon FAQ.)

1.2.5    Engine Technical Data

 

Neon Engine Data
  2.0 SOHC
1995 only
2.0 SOHC
1996-9
2.0 DOHC TLEV 2.0 Export 1.8 Export
Chrysler Engine Code: ECB ECB ECC      
Displacement: 2.0 litre
(122 cubic inches)
2.0 litre
(122 cubic inches)
2.0 litre
(122 cubic inches)
2.0 litre
(122 cubic inches)
2.0 litre
(122 cubic inches)
1.8 litre
(110 cubic inches)
Valve Train: SOHC SOHC DOHC SOHC SOHC SOHC
HP Peak: 136 hp 132 hp @ 6000 rpm 150 hp @ 6500 rpm 129 hp 131 hp 115 hp @ 5750 rpm
Torque Peak:   129 ft/lb @ 5000 rpm 133 ft/lb @ 5600 rpm   128 ft/lb 112 ft/lb @ 4900 rpm
Redline: 6500 rpm 6500 rpm 7000 rpm      
Rev Limiter: 6750 rpm 6750 rpm atx: 6750 rpm
mtx: 7250 rpm
     
Compression: 9.8 to 1 9.8 to 1 9.6 to 1 9.3 to 1    
Bore x Stroke: 3.445 in x 3.267 in 3.445 in x 3.267 in 3.445 in x 3.267 in      
Recommended Gas: 87 octane 87 octane 92 octane      
Recommended Engine Oil: 5W-30 5W-30 5W-30      
Oil Sump Capacity: 4.5 quarts 4.5 quarts 4.5 quarts      
Firing Order: 1-3-4-2 1-3-4-2 1-3-4-2      
Spark Plugs Type: Champion RC9YC
or equivalent
Champion RC9YC
or equivalent
Champion RC9YC
or equivalent
     
Spark Plug Gap: 0.035" 0.035" 0.035"      
Torque Spark Plugs to: 20 ft/lbs 20 ft/lbs 20 ft/lbs      
  2.0 SOHC
1995 only
2.0 SOHC
1996-9
2.0 DOHC TLEV 2.0 Export 1.8 Export
Neon Engine Data



1.2.6    Engine General Information



1.2.7    Engine Questions & Answers

1.2.7.1    Which engine is better?
As with all things Neon, opinions vary widely.  However, many feel that the SOHC is better for street use because its torque peak is lower in the rpm range, allowing the engine more time in its power band under normal driving conditions.   The SOHC is also a better choice with the automatic transmission.  The DOHC does have more power in the top end, above 6000 rpm, which makes it the main choice for racers and autocrossers.  Torque is also a bit higher throughout the power band.

Under competition use, though, the DOHC does require more careful maintenance to avoid problems with its more complicated valvetrain.  The DOHC is somewhat prone to rocker failure, and does not quite have the same reputation for bulletproof racing reliability that the SOHC enjoys.


1.2.7.2    What are the different cam specifications for the SOHC model years?
After the 1995 model year, the SOHC cam was modified to improve idle quality.  This caused a small but noticeable drop in performance.  The cam changes are as follows:

SOHC Cam Data
  Intake Valve Lift Centerline Overlap Volume
1995 7.8mm 108 degrees 2987 mm3
1996-1999 7.2mm 113 degrees 2039 mm3

The early, '95 spec SOHC cam can be distinguished from the later SOHC cam by looking at the back flange on the cam: the early cam has six pairs of parallel lines stamped around the flange, the later cam has a series of punch marks arranged in lines around the flange.

Note that the normal '95 spec cam is now sold as a Mopar Performance part; it is also available over the regular parts counter.  The MP catalog lists a gain of four horsepower when installed in '96 and newer SOHC cars.  Unlike the hotter MP cams, this cam does not require premium octane gasoline.


1.2.7.3    Why do the two engines have different octane recommendations?  Does using higher octane give more power?
SOHC and DOHC engines have different engine controller programming.  The DOHC, due to its more aggressive tuning, is calibrated for 92 octane, while the SOHC is optimized for 87 octane.

Both engine controllers have a knock sensor, and will retard the spark timing if detonation (or "pinging") is encountered due to running lower-octane fuel.  However, the controller will not advance the spark beyond its original setting, so using fuel of higher octane rating than recommended above gives no performance advantage.


1.2.7.4    What does the rev limiter do?  What does the speed limiter do?
The rev limiter interrupts fuel supply in order to bring the rpm below redline.  Note that this works only while accelerating!  The Neon's manual transmission is very strong, and can be forced into low gears at high speeds.  The car's momentum will drive the engine past the redline, and the rev limiter will not help in this situation.  Also, the fuel cutoff is relatively sudden, and can cause throttle-off oversteer if encountered while cornering near the limits of adhesion.

As listed in the table for each engine, the SOHC rev limiter steps in at 6750 rpm, while the DOHC is set to 7250 rpm.  Note that the DOHC is also rev limited at 6750 when coupled to the automatic transmission.

The speed limiter operates in a similar manner, based on indicated speed rather than rpm.  This is done to prevent consumers from exceeding the speed rating of the OEM tires.  All Neons (except ACRs and R/Ts) are governed at 118 mph, the maximum speed allowed on a T-rated tire.  '95 m/y ACRs have no speed limiter; newer ACRs and all R/Ts are governed at 130 mph.  This is a moot point because the ACR tops out due to aerodynamic drag at about 130 mph anyway.


1.2.7.5    Is there any parts interchangeability between the SOHC and DOHC motors?
"Putting DOHC pistons in an SOHC engine has been done. The two engines have essentially the same block and crank except for the PCV system in the '95 SOHCs. DOHC pistons raise the compression a little less than half a point. The DOHC engine actually has slightly less compression than the SOHC because it has 54cc of combustion chamber volume. The SOHC has about 48cc. Thats why the DOHC uses slightly domed pistons, to get the compression almost all the way back up.

If you are planning on putting a DOHC head on the SOHC block even after you change the pistons, you'd better plan on getting a DOHC donor motor for the project. Otherwise, it'll get real expensive quickly.  You'll need the manifolds, throttle body, sensors, some timing belt drive components, and wiring harness to get it running. You'll also need a DOHC computer to get the right fuel and spark. SOHCs & DOHCs will run with the wrong computer, just not that well. The fuel and spark tables are totally different because the engines have different airflow characteristics."

- Erich Heuschele


1.2.7.6    What is a 'bobble strut'?
The torque strut (or 'bobble strut'), is in the rear of the engine and goes from motor to frame near the firewall.  It dampens driveline windup; the stock unit looks a bit like the pneumatic struts that hold up a hatchback.  This can be replaced with a solid bar, which will increase noise and vibration but provide better shifts and less wheel hop.  At least one person has a solid strut setup that is not anchored at the frame end.  This limits windup under acceleration, but does not transmit vibration at idle.

The bobble strut is found only on cars with manual transmission.

1.2.7.7    What is the DOHC 'oil restrictor'?
Under hard use (over 6000 rpm), the DOHC engine generates enough vacuum to inhale oil through the crankase ventilation system.  The oil restrictor is a small insert that goes in the return air line that comes out of the driver's side of the valve cover.  The restrictor limits the amount of airflow and prevents oil from entering the air intake system.  This piece (p/n 4856291) is available over the parts counter for about $4.00.  This problem was described in TSB #09-07-95, which specifically mentions ACRs.  However, any hard-driven DOHC should have this piece installed.

The symptom that indicates this problem is smoking through the exhaust, particularly following a long, high-RPM, right-hand turn.


1.2.7.8    Is there a difference between the DOHC and SOHC engine controllers?   What about ATX and MTX?
The powertrain control module, or PCM, is unique to a given model year and engine type.  Actually, from '96 up, the unit itself is interchangeable; however, the programming is engine- and year-specific.  Each type carries a different part number, which refers to the correct software flashed into the EEPROM chip inside.

There is little advantage to be gained by swapping controllers between engine types, anyway.  The Neon engine will run with the wrong controller, but not very well.  The cam timing is quite different between the two engines, which means the fuel ratio table for one engine is not well suited to the other.

The ACR engine controller, contrary to some rumors, is not substantially different than the corresponding type/year from a regular Neon.  The only change is adjustment/deletion of the speed limiter.  The important things such as spark timing and fuel ratios are identical.

While there are some differences between the ATX and MTX controllers, none affect the power out put of either engine.  Some of the programming changes are as follows:

The PCM on a car with the automatic transmission is programmed to operate the torque converter lockup solenoid.  The auto PCM also monitors the park/neutral switch input, and as a result has some strategies for controlling the idle air control motor when shifting from park to drive or vise-versa.  As noted elsewhere, DOHC engines are rev-limited lower than usual to protect the torque converter. (PCM info courtesy of Greg Smith.)


1.2.7.9   Where is the PCV valve on my '95 SOHC?
The '95 m/y SOHCs have a plastic PCV breather box mounted to the block under the intake manifold, which is very difficult to service.  '96-99 m/y SOHCs integrate the PCV baffling into the valve cover, similar to the DOHC setup. The '95 valve cover has no fitting for PCV airflow, but the '96-99 cover has the PCV air "out" fitting.

1.2.7.10    Is the Neon's engine really a Mitsubishi product in disguise?
No!  This is a persistent myth, particularly among DSM owners, founded on the history of cooperation between Chrysler and Mitsubishi.  In fact, the naturally aspirated Eclipse 2.0 litre is based on the Neon engine, which was entirely developed by Chrysler.  However, the head is reversed in the Eclipse installation, with the exhaust manifold facing front.  The Mitsubishi turbo engines, on the other hand, were designed in Japan and do not have any common parts with the Chrysler product.



1.3    Neon Transmissions

1.3.1    Automatic Transmission (ATX)

The Neon automatic transmission is a three-speed, mechanically-controlled unit.  Shifts are regulated by throttle position via a cable attached to the throttle body, while an internal governor sets the maximum upshift speed at 6500 rpm.  It has a lockup torque converter for improved mileage, but no overdrive like the manual has.  It is an older Chrysler design, and as such, is a reliable, durable transmission.  The automatic transmission is not a good match for the DOHC engine, because its shift points occur too early to make full use of the DOHC's high-revving power.  DOHCs are rev-limited at 6750 rpm when coupled with the automatic transmission, due to limitations of the torque converter.  For people with no tachometer, the SOHC turns about 3500 rpm at 80 mph in top gear, while the DOHC turns about 3750 rpm at the same speed.



1.3.2    Manual Transmission (MTX)

The Neon manual transmission is a five-speed unit that comes in three varieties, as described in the table below.
  1. The standard transmission, used in SOHC cars.
  2. The original performance manual (Performance Manual A), used in all ACRs and R/Ts, and 1995 DOHC cars. It has a slightly taller final drive than the standard transmission, & a lower-ratio 5th gear to improve acceleration in 5th. It turns about 3500 rpm at 73 mph in top gear.
  3. The second performance manual (Performance Manual B), an option for the Sport & Expresso models. It has the same final drive as Performance Manual A for better acceleration than the standard MTX, but has the standard MTX's higher-ratio 5th gear for improved highway fuel economy.

The clutch disc diameter is 215mm.  The OEM clutch comes in two varieties:

  1. standard (with separate plates and a different back plate)
  2. modular (package unit, same back plate as the ATX)
The standard clutch was used in all '95 m/y MTX cars built in either plant.  For '96 m/y and newer cars, the Belvidere plant switched to the self-contained modular clutch, while Toluca continued using the standard clutch through the model run.

Note that the Neon's manual transmission is a New Venture design, and is fundamentally common with the GM J-body line (Cavalier, Sunfire, etc.).




1.4.3    Transmissions Data & Comparison

Neon Transmission Data
  Manual Performance Manual A Performance Manual B Automatic (SOHC) Automatic (DOHC)
Type A-578 (NV-T350) A-578 (NV-T350) A-578 (NV-T350) 31TH 31TH
Final Drive 3.55 3.94 3.94 2.98 3.19
First 3.54 3.54 3.54 2.69 2.69
Second 2.12 2.12 2.12 1.55 1.55
Third 1.36 1.36 1.36 1.00 1.00
Fourth 1.03 1.03 1.03    
Fifth 0.72 0.81 0.72    
Torque Rating: 136 ft/lb (trans) 136 ft/lb (trans) 136 ft/lb (trans) 170 ft/lbs (approx.) 170 ft/lbs (approx.)
Torque Rating: 160 ft/lb (clutch) 160 ft/lb (clutch) 160 ft/lb (clutch)    
Lubricant: Mopar MTX lubricant,
p/n 4773167
Mopar MTX lubricant,
p/n 4773167
Mopar MTX lubricant,
p/n 4773167
ATF+3, type 7176 ATF+3, type 7176
Lubricant capacity: 2.3 quarts 2.3 quarts 2.3 quarts 8.9 quarts dry,
4 quarts (drain & refill)
8.9 quarts dry,
4 quarts (drain & refill)
Used in: All SOHC MTX models
(except ACR)
All ACR, R/T,
& 1995 DOHC MTX models
1996-99 DOHC MTX models
(except ACR & R/T)
All SOHC ATX models All DOHC ATX models
A more comprehensive chart of NV-T350 transmissions is maintained on the neons.org site at http://www.neons.org/forumdodge/trans.htm



1.3.4    Transmission Questions & Answers

1.3.4.1    What are the shift points for the automatic transmission?
The automatic transmission will shift at different points depending on throttle position and engine speed.  Under low throttle, the unit will upshift at very low rpm.  Opening the throttle calls for a downshift and raises the upshift point rpm via a cable attached to the throttle body.  However, at wide open throttle (WOT), an internal governor forces an upshift just below the engine's redline, or about 6500 rpm.  Holding the ATX selector in a lower gear rather than 'D' will allow the engine to hit the rev limiter.

1.3.4.2    Why doesn't the Neon have a four speed automatic?
Chrysler tested the Neon with a four speed unit from the JA series (Cirrus, Stratus, Breeze).  However, overheating due to the tight engine compartment led to durability problems and the idea was dropped.  Also, Chrysler's marketing team does not feel that buyers are willing to pay a premium of several hundred dollars for a four speed automatic.  Rumor has been confirmed that a four speed ATX will debut in the 2001 m/y.

1.3.4.3    What is a modular clutch?
The modular clutch is a sealed, non-serviceable unit that combines pressure plates, springs, etc. into a single, replaceable module.  This clutch is standard in Belvidere-built '96-'99 MTX Neons, and supersedes the traditional unit in older cars as well (an adapter kit is available, p/n 4856319).  From Greg Smith:
"A modular clutch is a preassembled clutch pressure plate, clutch disc and flywheel. It bolts onto the same crankshaft-mounted driveplate that the automatic transmission Neons use. It cannot be disassembled for service -- instead, you just replace the modular clutch unit with a new one.

Chrysler uses the modular clutch in the Belvidere assembly plant to commonize assembly processes. They can install an automatic transmission-style driveplate on all the engines, and they don't have to worry about aligning the clutch disc inside the pressure plate. The assembly is self-aligning."

  - Greg Smith

Note that most aftermarket performance clutches will not work with the modular setup.  These may require back-dating of the flywheel and backing plate to the '95 m/y style.



1.4    Neon Suspensions

1.4.1    Base Suspension (SDA)

The Base suspension package (sales code SDA) was only available on 1995 m/y Base Neon Sedans with manual transmission and without air conditioning.  Ordering either the automatic transmission or A/C included an upgrade to the Touring suspension (SDC).  The SDA suspension was discontinued for the 1996 m/y.

1.4.2    Touring Suspension (SDC)

The Touring suspension package (sales code SDC) is standard on most Neons.  It is used on all Highline, '96 Base, all Sport Sedan, '97 and newer Sport Coupe Neons.  This is the softest package, but is still quite effective on the autocross course.

1.4.3    Sport Suspension (SDE)

The Sport suspension package (sales code SDE) was originally used for '95-'96 Sport Coupes only, not Sedans.  It was discontinued for the 1997 m/y when the Sport line became an option package on the Highline car.  However, the SDE package returned for '98-'99 on R/T Neons, both Coupe and Sedan.  It has stiffer struts than the Touring setup, a rear swaybar, and a heavier front swaybar.  In addition, it has taller front jounce snubbers, which provide additional spring rate.  Many people consider this the best suspension for mixed street and autocross use, since it is stiffer than the Touring but not as harsh as the Competition package.  It also has a slightly quicker steering ratio.

1.4.4    Competition Suspension (SDK)

The Competition suspension package (sales code SDK) is only available on ACR Neons, and is the same for both Coupe and Sedan.  It is similar to the SDE suspension, with one major difference.  The main feature of the SDK package is very stiff struts for improved track and autocross handling.  The '95 and '96 m/y ACRs had Arvin struts with adjustable camber.  '97 and newer m/y ACRs come with Koni struts that have adjustable rebound damping, to allow tuning of the car's suspension response and over/understeer tendencies.  '97 and early '98 ACRs were also adjustable for camber; however, this was discontinued due to chronic dealer misunderstanding of ACR alignment requirements.

In addition to the struts, the Competition package includes heavier hubs to withstand high cornering loads.  Early '95 m/y ACRs had the standard hubs, which cannot hold up to sustained competition use.  The revised hub has a 2mm thicker flange, making it 10mm.  This was addressed by a TSB, which called for warranty replacement of the thinner hubs.  The new part (p/n 4670292, $97.50) was incorporated as a running change during the '95 m/y, and includes slightly longer wheel mounting studs to allow for increased flange thickness.

1.4.5    Export Suspension (SDF)

The Export suspension package (sales code SDF) is very similar to the Sport suspension.  Strut damping is slightly changed to accomodate European ride and handling expectations, and to take advantage of higher speed-rated tires furnished on export Neons.

1.4.6    Suspensions Technical Data

Neon Suspension Data
  Base
SDA
Touring
SDC
Sport
SDE
Competition
SDK
Export
SDF
Spring Rate (Front) 150 lbs/in 140 lbs/in 150 lbs/in 150 lbs/in, linear 150 lbs/in
Spring Rate (Rear) 120 lbs/in 120 lbs/in 120 lbs/in 120 lbs/in, linear 120 lbs/in
Front Sway Bar none 20 mm 22 mm 22 mm 22 mm
Rear Sway Bar none none 16 mm 16 mm 16 mm
Steering Ratio 22:1 (manual) 18:1 (power assist) 16:1 (power assist) 16:1 (power assist) 18:1 (power assist)
Struts Stiffer Stiff Stiffer Very Stiff; Adjustable Stiffer
Hub size 8mm 8mm 8mm 8mm '94 & early '95,
10mm after early '95
8mm
Used in: Only '95 Base Sedan w/MTX & no AC All models not receiving
other suspension packages
'95-'96 Sport Coupe,
'98-'99 R/T (all)
ACR only Export only


1.4.7    Suspension Questions & Answers

1.4.7.1    What are the stock wheel/tire sizes?
Most Neons come with the 14"x5-1/2" steel wheels with a 5-bolt x 100mm circle.  The alloy wheels for Sports, ACRs, and R/Ts are 14"x6" with a 5-bolt x 100mm circle.  Most of these cars have 185/65-HR14 tires, except ACRs, which usually come with 185/60 or 175/65-HR14 tires.

Throughout the '95 m/y, Base and Highline Neons had a 13"x5" steel wheel with a 4-bolt x 100mm circle.  The 13" wheel was discontinued for the '96 m/y and newer models.  The tire size is 165/80-R13 for the Base, and 185/70-R13 for the Highline.

Some early '95 m/y cars came with 4-bolt, 14"x5-1/2" steel wheels with a 4 x 100mm circle.  These were standard on Sport Sedans (with wheelcovers), and optional on the Base and Highline.  A running change was made to the 5-bolt wheels in August of '94, and alloys became standard for the Sport .

All OEM wheels have a 40mm offset.  Offset is the distance from the mounting plane to the centerline of the wheel.  A smaller offset will move the wheels outboard;  a larger offset will move the wheels inboard. Too much change either way may cause clearance problems with wider tires.  Anyone considering aftermarket wheels should keep the offset as close to 40mm as possible, since this dimension is engineered into the steering geometry.  Also, altering offset by more than 1/4" (about 6mm) is illegal in SCCA stock classes for autocross.


1.4.7.2    What are the differences between the Arvin and Koni ACR struts?
Paraphrased from an article in Mopar Performance News:

"The Koni rebound rate has a 100% adjustment from soft to hard, and it straddles the ACR Arvin strut setting.  In compression, the rates were changed to respond to different piston speeds.  At slow and medium piston speeds (body roll, etc.), the valving is stiffer than the Arvin ACR strut.  At fast piston speeds (impact from bumps), the Koni valving is softer than the Arvin ACR valving. "

- Erich Heuschele


1.4.7.3    Is there a difference in the springs between each suspension type?
The OEM front springs come in two different rates (140 lbs-ft and 150 lbs-ft); all rear springs are 120 lbs-ft.  However, while there are just a few rates, there are many differing free heights for the original springs.

Differing-length springs of the correct rate are used to ensure that all Neons have a consistent ride height, regardless of the equipment level of the car.  For instance, my Sport Sedan with automatic and cruise control has a substantially heavier left front corner weight than a 5-speed Highline.  Even though the spring rate is the same, a slightly taller spring is used on the heavier car to allow for additional compression.

The assembly line uses a computer program to select the correct-height springs for the equipment level of the car being assembled.  However, this program originally contained errors, which led to many '95 and early '96 m/y Neons shipping with a ride height noticeably lower than spec.

It is possible to tune the handling of your Neon by trying springs with varying free heights in order to balance the cross weights.  However, this is probably illegal in most SCCA competition.

All cars, except the ACR, use progressive-rate springs, which are more suited for comfort in daily driving. The ACR uses linear-rate springs, which are more suited to the track.

Note that the "competition springs" sold in the Mopar Performance catalog are just the regular 150/120 lb/in springs.  The units offered are the shortest free height spring available for each cor5ner; they will lower some later cars by a little less than 1".   This is because the '98 and '99 m/y ACRs were somewhat heavier, due to the discontinuance of the Base model (earlier cars will not be lowered noticeably).   There are additional Mopar Performance products with greatly increased stiffness; however, these may or may not be SCCA-legal depending on the current state of the approved Neon trunk kit.  See the table below for part numbers and spring rates.
 
Neon Springs
  Part Number Rate Notes
ACR spring (front) 5007001 150 lb/in, linear  
ACR spring (rear) 5007002 120 lb/in, linear  
High Rate (front) 5007003 225 lb/in, linear Discontinued as of 2006; no longer available
High Rate (rear) 5007004 185 lb/in, linear Discontinued as of 2006; no longer available
Extra High Rate (front) 5007005 310 lb/in, linear Discontinued as of 2006; no longer available
Extra High Rate (rear) 5007006 230 lb/in, linear Discontinued as of 2006; no longer available


1.4.7.4    Why was the camber adjustment taken out of newer ACRs?
The ACR option package originally included dealer alignment to customer specifications, since Chrysler assumed that ACR buyers would want the car set up to their preferences.  ACRs shipped from the factory unaligned.  However, many ACRs were sold to unknowing customers by ignorant dealers, and were delivered with no alignment corrections.

Consequently, many of these ACRs came back to the dealer for alignment to be performed as a warranty service.  Chrysler got tired of paying dealers twice for being stupid once, and the camber adjustability was dropped at the request of the Warranty Claims department.

Some very early-build '98s received the slotted OEM Konis; however most '98s and all '99 ACRs do not have slots.


1.4.7.5    What is a 'trunk kit'?
A trunk kit is a package of upgraded performance parts to be used in road racing.  At the time the Neon ACR was introduced, SCCA Showroom Stock club racing rules were very restrictive:  the cars were largely true to the name of the class, except for safety items like a roll cage.  Cars were required to be available for retail sale with the same engine, transmission, and suspension as the race version.  The ACR, Nissan's Sentra SE-R, and the Miata R are examples of "by the book" Showroom Stock entries.

However, in response to the ACR's dominance in Showroom Stock C, and very strong showing in SSB, the SCCA Competition Board gave in to pressure from manufacturers and drivers of other marques.  They allowed each car a pre-approved package of performance upgrades.  These are nicknamed 'trunk kits' because they come 'installed' in the car's trunk, to be fitted by the owner rather than the factory.

In theory, the Comp Board adjusts the content of each model's trunk kit to even the competition.  In practice, virtually everybody *except* the Neon racers got a big bag of goodies, and the ACR was rendered relatively non-competitive by the miniscule package that was approved by the SCCA.  Following Chrysler's withdrawal of contingency support for all SCCA-sanctioned events, the Competition Board appears to be adjusting the approved kits to some extent.


1.4.7.6    What is the difference between the black and the yellow Koni struts?
About $800 a set.  The black Konis are the factory units, and no longer come slotted.  The yellow Konis are identical, slotted, and about 1/3 the price.  The yellow struts are, however, illegal for Showroom Stock club racing competition (they are legal in Stock autocross, though they may require a washer welded over the slots to remove adjustability).  Note that the legal black units are now available through Mopar Performance; they carry a different part number and are for some reason considerably less expensive.  Below are part numbers for each type (part numbers courtesy of Jim Waleke).
 
Koni Strut Comparison
Item Part Number Price Color Notes
OEM Koni strut (front) 4656356 $460 ea. black  
OEM Koni strut (rear) 4656196  $390 ea. black  
MP Koni strut (front) P4876812 $225 ea. black  
MP Koni strut (rear) P5007000  $245 ea. black  
Direct from Koni set -- $575/set yellow  


1.5    Neon Brake Systems

1.5.1    Brake System Information

The Neon's brake system is well modulated; responsive but not touchy,  and evenly biased from front to rear for control.  All Neons have vacuum-assisted brakes, with or without ABS.  Most cars have front disc/rear drum, which is perfectly fine for all but roadracing use, where heat buildup is a concern.  Rear discs do brake somewhat better; however, they are about 16 pounds heavier.  Since the rear wheels only do about 20% of the braking, the performance difference between disc and drum is minimized.

The Neon's optional ABS is a three-channel system.  In fact, all street car ABS is three-channel, no matter what other manufacturers may say in their advertising.  All four wheels are monitored independently for lockup detection.  Braking effort is metered seperately to the front wheels, and the rear wheels are metered as a pair to promote stability.

For the 98-99 m/y's, only 3 brake systems were offered: BRA, BRD, & BRF. The front linings for all systems were changed, & the proportioning & rear linings for the disc/drum systems BRD & BRF were changed.

Neon Brake Systems ('95-'97 m/y) Neon Brake Systems ('98-'99 m/y)
  BRC BRH BRA BRJ BRD BRF BRA BRD BRF
Type Disc/drum Disc/drum,
with ABS
Disc/drum Disc/drum,
with ABS
Disc/disc Disc/disc,
with ABS
Disc/drum Disc/disc Disc/disc,
with ABS
Front Rotor OD 240mm 240mm 257mm 257mm 257mm 257mm 257mm 257mm 257mm
Front Caliper Piston diam. 54mm 54mm 54mm 54mm 54mm 54mm 54mm 54mm 54mm
Front Lining Abex 46Q3T Abex 46Q3T Abex 46Q3T Abex 46Q3T Abex 46Q3T Abex 46Q3T Bendix D7913 BBA 2004 BBA 2004
Rear Rotor or Drum OD 200mm 200mm 200mm 200mm 270mm 270mm 200mm 270mm 270mm
Rear Piston or Cyl. diam. 15.9mm 15.9mm 15.9mm 15.9mm 34mm 34mm 15.9mm 34mm 34mm
Rear Lining Bendix H3520A Bendix H3520A Bendix H3520A Bendix H3520A Bendix 7805 Bendix 7805 Bendix H3520A BBA 2006 BBA 2006
Master Cyl. bore 21mm 21mm 21mm 21mm 22.2mm 22.2mm 21mm 22.2mm 22.2mm
Proportioning Valve 400/.43
(black band)
400/.34
(gold band)
400/.43
(black band)
400/.34
(gold band)
400/.34
(gold band)
400/.34
(gold band)
400/.43
(black band)
Proportioning
changed
Proportioning
changed
Used in: Base '94-'95 standard,
Highline '94 standard,
Sport '94 standard
Base '94-'95 optional,
Highline '94 optional,
Sport '94 optional
Base '96-'97 standard,
Highline '95-'96 standard,
Sport '96-'97 standard,
Expresso standard
Highline '95 optional ACR all Base '96-'97 optional,
Highline '96 optional,
Sport '95 all,
Sport '96-'97 optional,
Expresso optional
Highline standard,
Sport standard,
Expresso standard,
Style standard
ACR all,
R/T standard
Highline optional,
Sport optional,
Expresso optional,
R/T optional,
Style optional



1.5.2    Brake System Questions & Answers

1.5.2.1    How have the brake options changed over the years?
"In 1995, there were *many* different brake systems available on Neons:

There was a 4-lug system (called 13" brakes, even though some cars with 14" wheels got them) that used 9.4" front discs and rear drums [BRC].  On Highlines, ABS was optional with these brakes [BRH].  This system [BRH] with ABS was standard on '95 Sport Sedans built before (approximately) August '94.  Do not be fooled by the 5 fake lugs on the 14" hubcaps... the early '94 calendar year Highline and Sport with 14" wheels had these 4-lug brakes!

There was also a 5-lug system (called 14" brakes, because they will not fit under wheels smaller than 14") that used 10.1" front discs with rear drums [BRA].  This system was optional on Highlines starting in August '94, had an additional ABS option [BRJ], and was the system that you got if you deleted ABS on a late-95 Sport Coupe or Sedan.  This system (without ABS) is standard on '96-98 Base, Highline, Sport and Expresso Neons [BRA].

We also have a 5-lug system that has 10.1" front discs with rear discs and ABS [BRF].  This system was standard on '95 Sports built after  (approximately) August '94.  It was possible in the '95 calendar year to delete the ABS (for credit) on a Sport, which then left you with the 14" disc/drum brakes [BRA].  This system [BRF] is what you get if you order the optional ABS on a '96-98 Neon.

Last but not least, there is the 10.1" front disc/rear disc without ABS [BRD].  In '95-97 model years, this system was used only on the ACR.  For the '98-'99 model year it is also standard on the R/T.

Beginning in the '96 model year, there are only three brake systems available: 14" disc/drum [BRA], 14" disc/disc [BRD], and 14" disc/disc with ABS [BRF]."
 - Greg Smith


1.5.2.2    Are all the front disc systems the same?
"Yes, all of the 5-lug front brakes are the same.  The '98-'99 front calipers are supposedly a little bit stiffer than the '95-'97 ones.  You can identify them easily because they are painted/coated black as opposed to the silver color of the original ones.  The '98-'99 pads are different also (less tendency to squeal)."
 - Greg Smith


1.6    Miscellaneous

1.6.1    General Specifications

There is a page of General Specifications for the 1st Generation Neon here.

1.6.2    Miscellaneous Neon Questions & Answers

1.6.2.1    How do I decode my '95-'99 Neon's VIN?
The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is a 17 digit code used to identify a particular car from all others.  The number is alphanumeric, meaning that it is made up of both letters and numbers.  A typical Neon VIN looks like the following:

1P3ES22Y8WDxxxxxx
(xxxxxx is the last six digits)

With this number, one can identify almost all the information about what year the car was made, which engine it should have, and other assorted information.  Decoding can be accomplished by following this chart:


1st Digit 2nd Digit 3rd Digit 4th Digit 5th Digit 6th Digit 7th Digit 8th Digit 9th Digit 10th Digit 11th Digit 12th-17th Digits
Country of Origin Make Vehicle Type Passenger Safety Vehicle Line Series Body Style Engine Check Digit Model Year Assembly Plant Build Sequence
1
US, Belvidere
D or B
Dodge
3
Passenger Car
E
Active Restraints, dual front air-bags
S
Neon/Neon Sport sold in USA/Canada/Export
2
Baseline '95-'97 &
Highline '98-'99 US/Canada
2
Coupe
C
2.0L SOHC
Determined from a mathematical formula to establish authenticity of any given serial number* S
1995
D
Belvidere, Illinois
US/Canada/Export
Tells what number car it was that came off the assembly line that year.
3
Mexico, Toluca
P
Plymouth
6
Neon/Neon Sport sold in Mexico
4
Highline '95-'97 &
Sport '98-'99 US/Canada
7
Sedan
Y
2.0L DOHC
T
1996
T
Toluca, Mexico
US/Canada/Mexico
C
Chrysler,
built for export
6
Sport '95-'97 US/Canada
?
1.8L SOHC
[yes, really a question mark]
V
1997
M
Manual SE BUX cars
W
1998
A
Automatic BUX cars
X
1999

*Ninth Digit (Check Digit):
The check digit is used to determine the authenticity of any given serial number.  It is derived from a mathematical formula based on the first half of the serial number (all digits to the left of the check digit).  If you are interested in how the check digit is determined, email me at <duke@neons.org>.  I have the formula but it is too large and obscure to include in the FAQ at this time.

Using our original example VIN:  1P3ESS22Y8WDxxxxxx, we can determine that this was a 1998 Plymouth Neon Expresso coupe with a DOHC engine for sale in the United States and built at the Belvidere plant.  The xxxxxx would have been what number the car was off the assembly line.  [Updated VIN information courtesy of Dan Stewart]

Neons.org also has an online VIN decoder at www.neons.org/vin/


1.6.2.2    How can I find out information about a specific Neon?
Chrysler, like most modern car manufacturers, tracks the history of each Neon by the Vehicle Identification Number.  Owners, or potential buyers, can get access to some of this information through a Dodge or Plymouth dealer service counter.  If you ask politely, the service advisor can print out a service history and a build sheet.  These are an invaluable asset to anyone considering purchase of a used Neon.

The service history contains most information pertaining to the life of the car since it left the factory.  It includes the build date and time, the in-service date (date the first retail buyer took possession), the dealer to which the car was originally shipped, the dealer which sold the car,  the name and address of the original buyer, and (usually) names and addresses of subsequent buyers if the car was resold through a dealer.  It also contains at least the last 24 months of dealer-performed services and the complete recall history.  This indicates any safety recalls (not TSBs) to which that particular Neon is subject; it also indicates which have been corrected and which are outstanding.  Note that any uncorrected recalls should be taken care of at no charge by the dealer.

The build sheet is a document used by the assembly line when each Neon is constructed.  It contains the alphanumeric ordering code for each particular item on the car, such as engine choice, transmission type, and options; as well as more detailed information such as braking system, wheel size, etc.  It may also include additional codes that pertain to the car's history.  For instance, my '95 ACR was taken directly from Belvidere to the Chicago Auto Show in January of 1995 and put on display to illustrate the competition package.  Its build sheet includes a code listed as "Show Car Tracking".

1.6.2.3    How do I find a good dealer in my area?
Chrysler maintains a list of dealers who have consistently scored well in customer satisfaction surveys.  Call the Chrysler Five-Star Dealers line (1-800-677-5782).  They'll give you names and numbers of the dealers in your area who have earned the Five-Star rating. You'll also receive by mail a brochure explaining how the dealers earned that designation.

1.6.2.4    What is a TSB?
TSB stands for Technical Service Bulletin.  This is a document issued to dealer service departments, describing a common problem, symptom, or complaint.  Also included is the recommended diagnosis/repair procedure.  TSBs are issued in cases where the problem is not a safety issue requiring a recall.

Reading the TSB list can help the Neon owner isolate a problem and explain it to the service manager.  Each bulletin usually includes a specific model or range of build dates to which the item applies; however, cars outside these indicators may also suffer the same problem.

People usually think that the Neon has an excessive number of these bulletins, until they get a chance to see the list for a Ford product.  And that's not even counting safety recalls.

Neons.org maintains a collection of TSB's for the Neon at www.neons.org/neontsb/index.shtml


1.6.2.5    Here is a veritable potpourri of Neon trivia.
Information taken from the Belvidere Assembly brochure I picked up at Neon97:

1.6.2.6    How about that One Millionth Neon?!
Belvidere, Illinois Family Takes Delivery of the One Millionth Neon And It's Free!

BELVIDERE, Ill., March 19,1998 /PRNewswire/ -- The one millionth Neon -- a Cranberry Red, four-door Dodge Neon -- rolled off the assembly line at Chrysler Corporation's (NYSE: C) Belvidere Assembly plant earlier this morning amid the cheers of hundreds of the plant's employees.  But no cheer was louder than that of its proud new owner -- Gordon Keast of Belvidere, Ill. ­ when told that his new "purchase" was being paid for in full by Chrysler.

Immediately after the Neon was driven through a "Thanks a Million" banner, Mr. Keast was presented with his keys "free of charge" by Gary Henson, Vice President - Manufacturing, Chrysler, in a ceremony attended by the plant's employees and local dignitaries, including the Honorable Charles Box, Mayor of Rockford, Ill.

"Reaching the one million milestone for Neon vehicle production, coupled with the recent completion of $90 million in investments in the facility, has certainly given the workforce and the local community a whole lot to be proud of," said Henson.  "It clearly demonstrates the success of Neon in the marketplace -- both nationally and internationally -- along with Chrysler's continued confidence for the future."

When the Keasts placed their order for a new 1998 Neon from Burton Motors in Belvidere, it signaled the milestone achievement for one of America's most popular and fun-to-drive subcompacts.  Neon production began at Belvidere Assembly in late 1993 and remains Chrysler's only small car production facility in the United States.

Belvidere Assembly employs 3,320 people working on two eight-hour production shifts.  They produce 1,064 Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler (left- and right-hand drive) a day at the plant.

Chrysler Corporation


1.6.2.7    Here are some telephone numbers for Daimler-Chrysler.
These numbers are valid in the U. S. only.
1-800-NEW-NEON    Information about Neons
1-800-992-1997    Chrysler Customer Service
1-800-998-1110    Neon Racing Headquarters (fax number 810-553-2138)
1-800-253-0823    Order a catalog of replicas of Chrysler vehicles
1-800-4-A-DODGE   Get a Dodge catalog or other product info
1-800-890-4038    Chrysler Tech Authority
1-800-677-5782    Chrysler 5-star Dealer line
1-248-969-1690    Mopar Performance Techline
This one works outside the U. S.:
810-978-6428      Chrysler International

 

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