Say Bye to Neon by Richard Ehrenberg
There's a lot of tom-foolery people do with cars. Sometimes its stupid, and sometimes its awesome ! In this case, its awesome. This has to be one of my favourite automotive shinanigans tales.
Say Bye to Neon Original Story by: Richard Ehrenberg for Mopar Action Magazine.
Ever want to nitrous your ride, but were afraid you'd grenade your mega-dollar motor into smithereens, or trash your daily driver? Well, fear no more. For the measly sum of $19.95, we can absolutely guarantee that you won't blow YOUR motor. How? Heh heh heh. Just rent a car from your local, smiling Thrifty agent (we highly recommend the sunny Phoenix locations.) His motor + your nitrous system = no problem. Experience the thrill of nitrous, totally uninhibited. No longer will you feel the urge to back off because you're afraid of scattering YOUR dollars along the side of the road or at the strip. It's like hot fudge sundaes without the guilt. Mopar Action's staff, the same people who brought you the Rental Car Nats and the famous "push-o-war" (nose-to-nose burnouts), are out on a brief furlough from Nurse Ratchet's psycho ward, and will outdo themselves again by showing you how to knock over 3 seconds off a bone stock Neon. Yeah, you got it! 16.90 @ 81MPH to a zero-traction 13.82 @ 102. Have we got chrome-moly spheres, or what?
We slammed together a supersimple N2O system for our bone stock 3-speed automatic rent-a-Neon (with 13-inch wheels!!) The setup consisted of readily available parts from the NOS nitrous catalog and the local NAPA parts store. Our goal was to make no engine mods and unbolt nothing from the car during installation. In other words, we wanted to be smarter than O.J., and leave no incriminating evidence behind (is America a great country, or what?)
The system consisted of an N20 tank held in the back seat by the lap and shoulder belt, a length of braided hose laying on the carpet, and routed through the unused clutch-cable firewall hole, the cheapest electric fuel pump we could find, nitrous and fuel solenoids and two simple injectors. The injectors consisted of nothing more than two short lengths of 3/16" brake line tubing with the solenoids attached at one end and 2 NOS-modified "AN" fittings that accept NOS nitrous and fuel-metering jets on the other end. A painless incision into the soft plastic air box hose allowed N2O and fuel to be injected directly above the throttle body. The whole deal was held in place by duct tape and cable ties. Replaceable jets allowed precision tuning of the system to any level of insanity desired.
Auxiliary fuel (alcohol "drygas") was stored in the windshield washer reservoir and the small electric pump was added to supply fuel (the windshield wiper fluid pump will not supply enough fuel) to a solenoid. This setup was rigged into the horn wiring to open the solenoids when you punch the horn button (we did disconnect the horn button).
So how did it work? Awesome. Simply awesome. We started out with a 50HP nitrous jet with 100% excess fuel. Hitting the horn at 4000RPM in 2nd gear felt like 15 lbs of boost. Were we happy? Nope! Onward to the 75HP jet and only 50% excess fuel. The Neon was amazing. We worked up the guts for 1800 RPM launches in first gear. Oops out of nitrous, before you can say: "Thrifty." Luckily, we had brought a second bottle.
The entire Mopar Action staff flogged the Neon mercilessly, but we couldn't break it (yet). The high (low?) point came when "Crazy" Eddie Yeznaian, intrepid rally racer and wildebeest extraordinaire, actually power-braked the car to the floor, cut the wheel to the left, and hit the nitrous in reverse. Nothin' like nitrous doughnuts after a hard day at the office! (Since this was done in the rain, does that make it Dunkin' Donuts?) If you can imagine what it must be like to be trapped in a spinning top at 200 RPM, you get the idea. Where are the air-sickness bags for this ride? H-E-L-L-L-P!
After the second full 10 pound bottle of nitrous had been greedily half-guzzled by the motor, we decided to go for broke before it was empty. We slipped in the killer 150HP jets. Is this sick, or what? We more than doubled the stock HP output! Jeeez! 13.82 @ 102mph. The motor took first gear launches at 2000RPM with cylinder pressures that should have shot the plugs through the hood, and exhaust gas temps that were slightly hotter than the surface of the sun.
Could the Neon go faster? And, mainly, would the converter stay in the transaxle, or launch like a Saturn rocket and slice our legs off at the knees? (And, do they rent hand-control Neons?) For our last runs of the day, we leaned out the fuel jet for only 5% excess fuel and stuck our guinea pig editor, Cliff "Pleeeeease don't blow the motor, guys!" Gromer behind the wheel. For his first duel, Cliff matched himself up with an automatic Mustang GT at the track. The pony car came out of the shoot even with the Neon, and pulled ahead by the 300-ft mark. The Neon, now in second, gets juiced by Gromer. Result? Like taking candy from a baby. Cliff's little rent-a-PL was so far out on the 'Stang that he was able to back off in third, turning a 14.15 at 96.7.
Later, in an impromptu street run from a 10mph roll-on, Cliff, the sick puppy that he is, hit the horn button in first gear, right on the "3" count, the 2-liter Twinkie motor screamed for mercy, the tires spun all the way through first gear. We were fender to fender with a fast 440-6 Challenger R/T. He ripped his piston-grip to second, but we pulled ahead. Clifford boiled the tires big-time into second gear, allowing the R/T to pull alongside. The Neon mini-motor wound tight-right to the rev limiter. Did Cliff lift? Did he back off? No chance! Ka-boom! A glowing three-foot fireball barked out of each side of the hood, and rolled back over the windshield. Cheeez! This actually caused the R/T driver to lift, but not Cliff! Wow. Say goodbye to Neon.
We pulled over, fully expecting to see rods hanging out of the block. Surprise. Only the airbox is blown apart. With the leaned out fuel system and the motor running so far into the rev limiter that the stock injectors were shut completely off, we musta floated the valves and backfired through the intake system. The motor was running a little rough (a slight understatement) and we're sure we bent at least one valve, or, more likely, blew the head off of a couple. Guess we should have followed Mark's rules (see sidebar). Needless to say it was the best $19.95 we ever spent. We gassed the Neon back up and limped back to the ever-smiling counterperson.
By the way, if you're interested in renting a Neon for $19.95 a day to go mustang hunting, Performance Resource is currently looking into marketing a complete nitrous kit (minus the bottle) that is jetted and flowed, and that you can bolt onto your rental Neon (or your own Neon for that matter) in less than an hour. Just so there's no misunderstanding, the kits are not available at this time, but they can be whipped together if there's sufficient interest out there in Neonland.