The Dodge Neon ACR

The first-generation Neon broke all the rules for economy cars. Despite being roomier inside than competitors, it was fast and agile enough to become an instant success on the track, where it swept the front wheel drive stock car races with its revvy engine, handling, and ACR race-prep package.

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An R/T was added with a standard DOHC and a more aggressive five-speed. Side-impact protection has been increased, and redesigned seat belts make operation easier and impacts safer. Window seals were improved, noise again reduced.  Gas mileage is up to 41 highway on (non-R/T, non-ACR) manual transmission models!

Sparky Jish wrote:

The ACR Neons are the best performing machines for under $15K. I traded my '95 base sedan for a '97 ACR sedan three months ago... drove it home at 95 mph, took the exit ramp at 85. The car did not complain one bit, and the brakes on this car are just incredible.

They are ultra-smooth at 95+ miles per hour, and in 4th gear, they're still pulling strong at that speed. Basically, an ACR consists of zero weight-adding options, adjustable Koni shocks for '97, beefy front and rear sway bars, four wheel disk brakes without ABS, alloys with performance tires, unlimited-speed engine controller, bigger radiator, specially-geared transmission, tach.

You can get A/C, rear defrost, radio, and CA emissions... those are the only options. Also, front fascia has foglight holes without foglights to cool the front brakes. Awesome setup. Equal to a '96 or later automatic Mustang GT in acceleration and cornering, probably better in cornering.

Car & Driver recently did a skidpad and autocross between a 1997 Cobra, Saturn, Neon, and Miata. On race slicks, the Neon was the *only* car able to pull over 1G of lateral acceleration.

[Webmaster note: the ACR and R/T gear ratios mean more acceleration, but may also result in more noise and lower mileage at highway speeds. James Deane wrote: The only ratio differences between transmissions for 1st gen Neons is in the ring/pinion and the 5th gear. In second generation they started playing a bit with other ratios, both for Neon and PT. For the ACR Neons, SOHC and DOHC share the same transmission--the 3.94/0.81 (Performance A, I think). R/T shared the ACR transmission, as did (I am fairly sure) the early Sport (pre-'97). Non-ACR/RT DOHC's had a 3.94/0.72 transmission (Performance B, I think). Non-ACR SOHCs had a 3.55/0.72 transmission (Standard).] (Jim said he'd provide more detail later - we expect to change this page by next week.)

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