I found it very interesting what Dave Hsu of Group A Autosports (known to you as Skunk2) had to say when it came to the subject of whether or not people had accepted their race car as breaking new ground. He told us that it was OK for people to deny the facts because eventually it would come back full circle. He quoted German philosopher Schopenhauer as saying "all truth goes through three different phases. First it's ridiculed, then it's violently opposed, and then it's accepted as fact." That's exactly what we've done here with Jeff Filipiak's Dodge Neon. We know that there will be those who will laugh. We know there will be those who will instigate. But what it all comes down to in the end is that his car is here for a reason: it's just %*$!in' bad ass! And after you're done reading this story, you'll come to accept it like we have.
It all starts back in '96 on the East Coast. Baltimore to be exact. A previous ownership of a fourth-gen Civic hatchback led Jeff to go in the completely opposite direction. To where you say? His Neon, obviously. The ultimate goal was to have a car that would mimic that of a touring car competitor. Most would have told him to continue on with the Civic, but not Jeff-he continued to press onward. The most attention grabbing features are what you already know: the outer persona. It begins with a Wings West RS Series kit, lowering the bodylines a few inches shy of touching pavement. The trunk lid is styled with a touring wing, also from Wings West. After the Auto Collision Clinic went through and did the paint and body work, Jeff felt the need to add some cosmetics: Altezza-style tail lights, clear bumper lenses, Neuspeed side markers, Xenon headlights, and a Zendar Euro antenna. Lastly, Speedesign Graphics cut the smooth, 45-rpm vinyl.
To pep up the 2.0L stocker, Jeff took his car to Wallace Engine, who went through the cylinder head with a five-angle valve job, a slight shave, and Extrude Honed combustion chambers. To free up engine breathing an Iceman intake, Pacesetter header and Genie exhaust were bolted in place. Cam timing was dialed-in via Unorthodox Racing cam gears and engine spark is lit with NGK plugs and Magnecor street wires. The usual flashiness is here-billet oil cap and polished valve cover, however, what is even flashier is the nitrous setup. Here a Nitrous Express Stage 1, 75-shot wet system was devised and then planted along with a NO2 fuel-cutoff switch, purge kit, bottle heater, and NO2 filter. The drivetrain remains stock, but we're sure the nitrous more than makes up for that.
For long, spirited drives on the interstate or making the rounds to the office the suspension must be set to one's choosing. In this case, Intrax coils and Jamex struts do the job of lowering the suspension geometry by two inches. Keeping all the vital chassis points stiff and intact are the Suspension Techniques front and rear anti-roll bars, Speedworks front strut bar, and Full Throttle rear strut bar. To match the touring theme, a set of Team Dynamics 18-inch Motorsport wheels was thrown on. Just in case you didn't know, Team Dynamics produces one of the most popular road and race wheels in the British tuning market, so it's no mistake finding these wheels here. To control hard braking situations, Powerslot rotors and Raybestos brake pads were added to the mix.
Now, the interior is where it gets a little weird. Those who drive barefooted should dare not enter this car unless they want to get burned. The diamond-plated floor mats give a techno vibe-hard and industrialized. A Jamex steering wheel provides the driver a comfortable grip while seated in the Jamex Daytona red and blue buckets. The APC gauges do an indiglo dance at night, and the Autometer a/f/r, NOS, boost, and sport tachometer gauges do their job of monitoring engine performance. Maintaining safety standards are the custom six-point roll cage and Schroth four-point Rallye racing harnesses. And alas, the stereo is quite basic. Nothing more than a Kenwood deck and Alpine speakers all the way around.
Now back to Schopenhauer's point. Can this be ridiculed? In most cases, yes. Can it be opposed? Most definitely. Can it be accepted? It already has been. By Jeff (naturally) and us (ditto). And that's the truth.
Owner Jeff Filipiak
Ride '96 Dodge Neon
Hometown Baltimore, Maryland
Daily Grind Registered Nurse
Under the Hood Extrude Hone combustion chambers; five-angle valve job; shaved cylinder head; Iceman intake; Genie muffler; Pacesetter header; NGK sparkplugs; Magnecor spark plug wires; chrome valve cover; billet oil cap; Unorthodox cam gears and underdrive pulleys; Nitrous Express Stage 1, 75-shot wet system, purge kit, nitrous filter
Stiff Stuff Intrax lowering springs, Jamex struts, Suspension Techniques front and rear antiroll bars, Speedworks front strut bar, Full Throttle rear strut bar
Rollers 18-inch Team Dynamics Motorsport wheels, Nitto NT450 215/35Z18 tires
Stoppers Powerslot rotors, Raybestos Brut Stop brake pads
Outside Wings West RS Series body kit and touring wing, shaved antenna and body work done by Auto Collision Clinic; Altezza taillights; clear bumper lenses; Zendar antenna; Xenon headlights; Neuspeed side markers; Speedesign graphics
Inside Jamex Daytona seats (blue and red) and steering wheel; APC Indiglo gauges, air/fuel ratio, nitrous, boost, and tachometer gauges; Niken carbon-fiber shift knob and pedals; custom six-point roll cage, diamond plated floor mats; Schroth four-point Rallye racing harnesses
ICE Kenwood head unit, Alpine 6x9 deck and 6.5 door speakers
Props Jodi Tyszko, Mom and Dad for their continuous support, John Brunning at Speedesign Custom Graphics, Auto Collision Clinic, Team Speedesign, Ken Ebo at Fila, BJ Birtwell at Meguiar's, Rob Brooks from Wilco, Wings West, Intrax, Unorthodox Racing, Team Dynamics, Pacesetter, Mike at Schroth, PremierCompacts.com, Frankie Johnson and Manny Agosto from Autothority, Neon America, BelAir Honda, and Daren Proctor for getting this project started.