Front-Wheel Folly, Part 2
We need more power.
From the April, 2006 issue of Mopar Muscle
All contributors: Randy Bolig
In our last installment, we took a $400 first-gen Neon, and bolted a new set of wheels and tires on it, and made a cool-looking ride. The wheels and tires were acquired from tirerack.com, and the total retail cost of the package was $1,036, which brings our Neon in at $1,436--not bad for a first car. But after it was driven awhile, the lack of available horsepower needed to be rectified.
So, we came up with a plan to boost the power a little bit by adding a few aftermarket components. Much like any hot rodder, we approached our plan in steps. Lucky for us, we have access to a Mustang Dyno and were able to see what kind of improvement each new bolt-on item gave us. The plan would be simple: add a cold air kit and test it; add a new free-flowing exhaust and test it; add a header and test it; and so on, and so on.
So how did we fare? Well, on our baseline testing pulls, we came up with 78.1 hp at 4,189 rpm, and 111.9 lb-ft of torque at 2,341 rpm. We determined from our baseline testing that the engine was, well, very tired, considering that's 70-some-horsepower shy of the factory rating. But with 120,000 miles showing on the odometer, it still sounded decent and didn't blow up, so we proceeded. After 15-pulls on the dyno to 5,000 rpm, all the engine's internals were still in place, and we reached 105 hp. All testing and parts exchanging occurred on the same day, so variables in weather conditions were kept to a minimum.
UPDATE: The car has been on the road for close to 3,000 miles. It's still running fine, and the best part is, it's getting almost 32 mpg. It hasn't used a drop of oil and is making a heck of a first car.
Once again, the lack of someone...
Once again, the lack of someone administering proper maintenance rears its ugly head. The air filter in the Neon was so dirty, we have no idea how it even ran.
Our first upgrade was a cold...
Our first upgrade was a cold air kit from K&N.
First, we removed all the...
First, we removed all the old ducting and filter box.
Installing the kit is a simple...
Installing the kit is a simple 20-minute job using a screwdriver and a couple wrenches.
With just the cold air kit,...
With just the cold air kit, our little Neon picked up 10.7 hp. To say we were impressed is an understatement. Keep in mind, we have a significant gain, but the original air filter was really plugged. But a gain is a gain, and we'll take it.
Next on our hit list would...
Next on our hit list would be the exhaust. The new-from-factory-recommendations never mentioned anything about performance, but, luckily for us, Dynomax does.
The Dynomax kit features a...
The Dynomax kit features a turbo-style muffler with dual outlets, 21/2-inch mandrel-bent tubing, and mounts using the OEM hangers. The kit installed in about one hour, and that includes removal of the old system.
Once again, the dyno wheel...
Once again, the dyno wheel was spun to 5,000 rpm. This time, our numbers were 91.7 hp at 4,614 rpm, and 125.1 lb-ft of torque at 3,673 rpm, which means our stock exhaust was almost adequate for our tired engine. But when the rebuild happens, the added exhaust size will be a benefit.
We started to notice a reoccurring...
We started to notice a reoccurring miss in our engine, so we decided a tune-up was in order. MSD had the coil and plug wires for our application, and we bought a set of spark plugs from our local NAPA store. We didn't see an increase in horsepower, but we did notice a better throttle response and lack of the aforementioned miss.
No hop-up is complete without...
No hop-up is complete without the addition of a header. We chose to use Holley Performance Products FlowTech header. The FlowTech header is a shorty design and retains the catalytic converter for emissions. We simply removed the factory manifold and bolted the new header in place... almost.
Some cutting and welding of...
Some cutting and welding of the pipe in front of the cat and after the header had to be done. With the header in place, we beat our Neon into submission again on the dyno. This time, we ended up with 97.2 hp at 4,426 rpm, and 122.2 lb-ft of torque at 3,158 rpm.
With one more trick up our...
With one more trick up our sleeve, we planned to hit the 100hp mark. We added a salvage-yard-found throttle body removed from an automatic-equipped car. The automatic throttle body is 52mm as opposed to the standard 49mm opening. Just be sure to put the sensors from your stock throttle body onto your replacement.
Finally, the last upgrade....
Finally, the last upgrade. With the throttle body change, we tipped the horsepower scale at 101.3 at 4,546 rpm, and 124.3 lb-ft of torque at 3,028 rpm.
One of the things we noticed...
One of the things we noticed during the beginning of our testing was the severe engine movement when the throttle was smashed to the floor.
To alleviate this problem,...
To alleviate this problem, Prothane makes these engine mount inserts that keep the mounts from flexing and tearing.
So for a little less than...
So for a little less than $2,300, we bought a car, slightly modified it, and made one cool high school cruiser--how cool is that?
|Car ||$400 |
|Wheels and tires: ||$1,036 |
|Exhaust: ||$160 |
|Cold air kit: ||$240 |
|Header: ||$275 |
|Coil and wires: ||$122 |
|Prothane inserts: ||$35 |
|TOTAL: ||$2,268 |