Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge Neon cars, 1995-2005
When it first arrived on the scene, the Neon was cute, scrappy, and desirable enough to command a premium over the list price for months. It boasted a standard engine with 132 horsepower - more than any other car near its price, and at least 30 horsepower more than most in its class - and matching torque, as well as a large interior, good handling, innovative environmental features, and a long list of standard features.
|The original Neon was engineered to beat every car in its class in nearly every way. Europeans got a more upscale version with standard air conditioning (unusual for the time) and optional leather. First-generation (1995-1999) Dodge Neon, Plymouth Neon, and Chrysler Neon information|
|The second generation Neon brought refinement, more room, and an end to some troubles, but no substantial improvements to the powertrain (at first), leaving it more of an average sedan. Lagging sales were “addressed” with restylings; eventually a correctly tuned four-speed automatic was added. Second-generation (2000-2005) Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge Neon information|
The Dodge Neon SRT-4 hit the heart of the Japanese pocket-rocket market, undercutting the prices of cars that Detroit “couldn’t compete with,” and outperforming them without sacrificing roadability or trunk space. The SRT-4 made a good profit, too. There’s nothing like having your cake and eating it, too. Dodge Neon SRT-4 car information
The Neon ceased production on September 23, 2005, after a two-generation, nearly-thirteen-year run. Its legacy included awards, trophies, and squandered opportunities.
BAPworker said: “The last Neon was an SXT. There are a couple of hundred signatures on the floor, under the carpet. The car before it was an SRT-4, white as all Neons and SRTs were the last two days of production. Look for an alternative wheel on last day production SRTs as there were not enough wheels and the vendor may not have [had] the capability to make more.”
The last Plymouth ever made was a Neon, and that’s owned by a collector and former Chrysler vice president.
Sales: first and second generation Neons
Neon coupes were sold from 1995-99; they were “replaced” by the Chrysler PT Cruiser. The following table is for U.S. sales and production only and does not include the Toluca factory, which had high production (though smaller than Belvidere), or the SRT-4, which reportedly reached a maximum of 13,000 units in its final year. We’re missing production numbers for 1995 and have no global or international sales data available. These numbers are from Chrysler and Ward’s.
Bob Sheaves wrote: “The Neon (PL) retailed at $8,995 for the cheapest model and cost less than $4,000 to build. Even with Eaton's induced cheapening, rebates, and recalls, they never lost money on the first generation.”
* Starting in 1999, we only have Belvidere numbers; Neons were also made in Toluca, Mexico from 1995-99.
** Plymouth might include Chryslers for export; after 2003, only Chryslers (export Neons) are listed under “Plymouth”
Neon sales were down to 113,000 units last year. That number hasn't changed much over the past few years, but there used to be a Plymouth Neon, too, which pushed total Neon sales to around 200,000 a year. Chrysler built its last Plymouth in July 2001, and the Dodge Neon never picked up the slack.
— Jerry Flint, 2005
11/13/08: “Because of the onslaught of requests by the CAB to bring back the Neon, Jim Press drove one that someone provided him. He was very impressed. He wants to bring back a Neon sized sedan. There is no money in the kitty for such a project.”