The underdog, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Those who loved the SRT-4 affectionately called them “Skittles” in honor of the bright colors they were available in such as Solar Yellow, Electric Blue, Flame Red and Orange Blast. To many though, they were just a Neon. A Neon they were indeed, but one on some serious steroids. At 230hp and 250 ft.-lbs of torque being produced from their 2.4L turbocharged four cylinder engine, the SRT-4 roared to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, to 100 mph in 13.8 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds at 102 mph. This definitely wasn’t your typical run-of-the-mill Neon. Over their three years of production from 2003-2005, just over 25,000 SRT-4s were built.
In 2005, Dodge released special “Commemorative Edition” versions of not only the Viper SRT-10 and Ram SRT-10 but the SRT-4 as well. Only 200 were made of each and all three models were all painted Stone White with Electric Blue fang style stripes. Each vehicle was individually numbered with a special commemorative plaque. For SRT-4 enthusiasts, these Commemorative Edition SRT-4s are the holy grail. Out of the 200 built, 143 have been found and registered with the SRT-4 Commemorative Edition registry. Out of those 143, 12 total have been written off making them an even rarer car to find and get your hands on. For Matt Kramer of Webster, New York, he can say he’s fortunate enough to own one of these.
Matt hasn’t always owned a Commemorative Edition though. His passion for SRT-4s started off with a 2003 Solar Yellow example that he owned from October 2014 until June 2015. “I had bought that car from a gentleman out in Buffalo, NY with 114,000 miles on it and was impressed by the absolute care he had for the vehicle. He gave me a massive binder with a plethora of information and history of the car which included every oil change, tire rotation, inspection, car washes, you name it. I had never seen anything like that especially from an owner of a Neon. At that time I wasn’t really too interested in the performance of the car, I was looking for something I could drive all year long and possibly have fun with” recalls Matt.
The car was mildly modified with just bolt-on items and a tune. Short throw shifter, full suspension upgrade, nothing too major. However, Matt was hooked. “I drove that car everywhere and fell in love with it” says Matt. After purchasing $4,800 worth of parts to give it a little more performance, Matt was finally on track to getting the SRT-4 right where he wanted it performance-wise. After two and a half months of solid wrenching on the car, it was finally ready to go just in time for a nine hour and 600 mile road trip with his buddies from Rochester, NY to Virginia Beach for a vacation. Unfortunately any car guy’s worst nightmare came to be as they arrived in Virginia Beach. While stopped in stand still traffic on the highway, Matt and his buddies were suddenly slammed into from behind by a Dodge Dakota, totaling his beloved SRT-4 on the spot.
“I ended up losing everything I put into it as insurance would not accept the parts regardless of the fact I had receipts and visual proof of some of the mods. All that money was lost within 3 days, vacation ruined, as well as my attitude. I drove back up to NY a week later in a rental 2015 Toyota Corolla,” recalls Matt. Awhile after, Matt ended buying a 2004 Chrysler Crossfire but found it nowhere near as fun as his old SRT-4.
This past February while searching Craigslist, Matt came across a Commemorative Edition SRT-4 with a low 49,000 miles on the clock and instantly a wave of nostalgia hit him. Matt says, “I quickly remembered the fun and practicality these cars hold within their cramped little cabin. Noticing it had been for sale since November 2015, I instantly messaged the guy who owned it and bought it within a week of looking at it. Everything that I fell in love with on the Solar Yellow ‘03 I had came back to me in this one.”
Matt’s Commemorative Edition SRT-4 is number #37 out of the 200. He’s since investigated and found out it was 1 of 56 produced with the power sunroof, Kicker subwoofer system and side air bag seats. Most SRT-4s came with the Viper inspired racing seats so finding one with the Neon R/T style side air bag seats is pretty tough. Matt says he’s the 5th owner of this car which had him a little concerned at the time. Apparently a previous owner had dumped it into a ditch and surprisingly just the hood was damaged so that was repaired and repainted. Matt ended up placing the car in a storage unit until May and only drove it around on the weekends. The car currently sits at 49,882 miles and won’t see any more miles tacked on until March or April of next year. It’s pretty heavily modified which Matt loves.
Under the hood, his SRT-4 features an aftermarket Garret GT3076r turbocharger mated to the original 2.4L engine along with a Tial 38mm waste gate and HKS SSQIV blow off valve. Cooling of the air comes from a MPX big front mount intercooler. Fuelling of the engine comes courtesy of 1000cc injectors fed by a Boomba fuel rail and a Walbro 255 fuel pump. For exhaust, the engine breathes through a MPX 3 inch O2 housing and MPX catted downpipe which lead into a full MPX dual exhaust system. The transmission is the original T-850 5 speed manual unit and shifting is made easy thanks to an ACT 6 puck clutch and Hurst Short throw shifter kit.
Underneath the car, Matt says his SRT-4 rides on BC coil-overs and stock SRT-4 wheels that have been refinished black. Drilled and slotted rotors aid in quick stopping power combined with the factory four corner disc brake set-up. On the inside, it features all of the original Commemorative Edition items. Straight from Dodge, the SRT-4 Commemorative Editions received blue stitching on the floor mats, shift boot, seats and steering wheel along with stainless steel “Dodge” door sill plates. On the center console just ahead of the cup holders, the #37 of 200 numbered plaque is mounted.
For modifications, the interior features an aftermarket JVC CD player and an AEM AFR gauge/ wideband sensor in place of the factory boost gauge. An A-pillar mounted triple gauge pod has been added and fitted with an Aeroforce Interceptor gauge, Autometer boost gauge and an Autometer voltage gauge to let Matt know exactly what the engine is doing at all times. The exterior is exactly as it rolled off the showroom floor with the addition of clear side marker lights, aftermarket fog lamps, a billet shorty antenna and a SRT nostril badge. The original front crosshair grille mesh has been deleted to make room for that big intercooler.
In closing, Matt says “The way I see it is this car is in a grey zone. It’s not an American muscle car or a Japanese tuner style car but it has the ability to roll with either of them. It’s a hybrid if anything. I think that may be the reason why SRT-4s receive the amount of flaming they do. Yet, although it’s a Neon, it’s the only car you can sarcastically say “Congratulations, your car can beat a Neon” or insultingly says “Your car just lost to a Neon”. That’s what makes it so special in my eyes.”