Home » This Is What A 24 Year-Old Plymouth Neon Looks Like With 6 Miles On The Odometer

This Is What A 24 Year-Old Plymouth Neon Looks Like With 6 Miles On The Odometer

2000 Plymouth Neon Survivor Topshot
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Earlier today, the Petersen Automotive Museum auctioned off one of the cars from its illustrious collection on Cars & Bids. It’s wasn’t some sort of rare European sports car, an art car, or a concept car, but rather something many Americans remember seeing in rental fleet lots. It’s a 2000 Plymouth Neon, but not just any 2000 Plymouth Neon, otherwise it wouldn’t have fetched $10,300.

See, this Plymouth Neon has a mere six miles on the odometer. Not 6,000, not 600, six. It’s a safe bet that this is the nicest second-generation Plymouth Neon in the world, even if it isn’t the zestiest spec.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

This is a Neon Highline, which is a particularly fancy way of saying base model. Remember Armstrong power windows? Yes, this thing came so lavishly-equipped that Plymouth listed a full-length console with cupholders, a rear defroster, a left sun visor and a right sun visor on the window sticker. It’s easy to forget just how spartan cars used to be.

2000 Plymouth Neon Door Card

It also goes without saying that general build quality leaves something to be desired. Even on this pristine example, some of the interior plastics like the driver’s door card armrest just don’t fit well, as if they were thrown together with a particular lack of concern. Oh, and here’s a design quirk of these Neons that always bugged me — the steering wheel is designed in such a way that it looks to be on upside-down.

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2000 Plymouth Neon Engine Bay

Motivation, if you can call it that, comes from a 132-horsepower two-liter four-cylinder engine hitched to a three-speed automatic transmission. Yep, a three-speed in Y2K. Needless to say, this wasn’t a quick car, but it acquitted itself well when the road got twisty. As Car And Driver wrote in a period road test:

With its stiffer body, revised shock valving, and increased suspension travel, the 2000 Neon is even more fun to throw around curves than the previous model. The steering is sharp and accurate. Controllable four-wheel drifts are a flick of the steering wheel away, and gross body motions are tightly controlled. The ride is noticeably firm—this is no Hyundai cush­mobile—but it never felt harsh.

Granted, this particular Neon hasn’t travelled far enough for anyone to marvel at its relative handling prowess. Instead, it’s a perfectly preserved time capsule from an age when America built small cars, when economical new transportation was both affordable and desirable. Consider this the blueprint, the standard for every other second-generation Plymouth Neon in existence.

2000 Plymouth Neon Front High

However, a car like this poses a problem: What do you do with it? After all, part of the value of this car is the mileage, and a car like this is far more precious than a classic Porsche 911, or most Ferraris, or even some of the hallowed Mopar muscle cars that fetch the big bucks. That last statement sounds a bit absurd, but let me explain.

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2000 Plymouth Neon Window Sticker

Let’s say you wanted to restore a 1970 Dodge Challenger. No problem. There are all sorts of vendors out there to make stuff happen, from bodywork to trim. It’s the same deal with old Porsches and the same deal with many Ferraris. However, vendors making restoration parts for the Plymouth Neon are, erm, slim.

2000 Plymouth Neon Right Front Three Quarters

Likewise, if some careless muppet broadsides your muscle car or high-end European sports machine, it sucks to be out of a car, but it’s also reasonably easy to find one in comparable condition, provided you haven’t succumbed to YouTube-itis and bought the ropiest example you could find. With this Neon, it just isn’t possible to find one this nice because, well, they don’t really exist in the wild.

2000 Plymouth Neon Drivers Seat

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As a result, this Plymouth Neon is truly irreplaceable, which makes it difficult to do anything with. It will likely sit in a collection for years until the owner sells it on, at which point the pool of buyers will be small to say the least. This is the rare sort of car that’s difficult to justify driving and not easy to sell, but to the right person, it’s everything. A true forever car, for better or worse.

2000 Plymouth Neon Rear Three Quarters

To everyone else, it’s something that’s wonderful to see. It’s a true piece of nostalgia, even if that nostalgia harkens back to paranoid times. Sure, two years after these things started running around, the last vestiges of the American Dream collapsed on daytime television, but it was also a time without the internet in everyone’s pockets. They weren’t better times, but they certainly were simpler. This Plymouth Neon is a time machine, it’s just a shame it’ll likely be cached away.

2000 Plymouth Neon Odometer

2000 Plymouth Neon Headlight

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2000 Plymouth Neon Interior

2000 Plymouth Neon Underbody

(Photo credits: Cars & Bids)

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Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
3 months ago
Ben
Ben
3 months ago

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but I hated our Neon. I get that they were cute, but I disliked almost everything else about it (I think ice cold AC was the sole redeeming feature of ours).

Yep, a three-speed in Y2K.

That probably goes a long way to explaining my intense dislike of the car and also why I so loved the manual Saturn we replaced it with.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Yeah these didn’t drive well, especially in automatic form. My boss at the time had (basically) the same car with an automatic… it somehow felt old even when new.

The greatest shame of (both) Neon generations is that they didn’t include power windows on the rear door of the sedans… any of them. That didn’t go well for GM G-body sedans/wagons in the 70s/80s… and there wasn’t a good excuse in the 90s/2000s.

You got all 4 manual, or just front driver/pass as powered but still roll-ups in the rear.

So stupid.

Ben
Ben
3 months ago

I’m pretty sure ours had precisely zero options (not even cruise control, which was one of my biggest pet peeves) so I wouldn’t have noticed that. 🙂

Cam Earnshaw
Cam Earnshaw
3 months ago

I have to disagree. I drove all the cheap rentals for business back in the day and the Neon drove better than any of them. Chevy Cavalier was a real penalty box with horribly low seats, and the Escort and Hyundai Accent were only marginally better. Long term, the timing belts needed replacing at 100k miles, and by then the replacement cost was more than the car was worth so most got scrapped.

Vee
Vee
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben

The second generation Neons are absolute dogshit. Steering was somehow numb and jittery at the same time and was worse than the dead steering of the PT Cruiser it shared the entire front end with, the interior was tight around the knees and the dashboard too high easily to see over if you’re under 5’7″, and you could kick the shifter of the five speed and it still wouldn’t land in gear despite being the same damn transmission as the first gen. The SRT-4 was basically the modern incarnation of the Coronet 440 where all the attention was put on the engine and barely any on the rest of the car.

First generations though? Amazing. Great feeling manual, sharp turn-in, a rear end that didn’t want to hop, and so much space inside. And the seat fabrics! Memphis design right there in the seat fabrics, man!

EXL500
EXL500
3 months ago
Reply to  Vee

I loved the first gen Neons, and rented them anytime we needed a car (I lived in NYC). They were fun, even with the automatic.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
3 months ago

Shame that one of the wheel covers has managed to gain some curb rash during the 6 miles.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
3 months ago

Maybe that’s why it was parked after 6 miles! haha

“Son, you scraped the hubcap! That’s it! It’s going in the garage FOREVER”

Angular Banjoes
Angular Banjoes
3 months ago

Even on this pristine example, some of the interior plastics like the driver’s door card armrest just don’t fit well, as if they were thrown together with a particular lack of concern.”

Well, this is anecdotal, but I lived in Belvidere where these heaps were slapped together, and based on my conversations with some neighbors and friends who worked at Belvidere Assembly through the 90’s and early 00’s… well… let’s just say that quality was not Job 1.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
3 months ago

I said it in the auction as well but truly the only place this car makes sense being is literally in the museum it’s being sold out of. What? is someone going to drive it like a brand new car? A dealer bought it so it’s going to sit on their lot now instead of the Petersen’s beautiful garage.

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
3 months ago

I assume it already has a blown head gasket and rusted out fuel filler neck?

if not, is it really a Neon?

JDE
JDE
3 months ago
Reply to  Toobs-N-Stuff

well if it was not properly stored for museum duty, then you can bet both of those things are not far from the first start up. Arcing Spark plugwires, spun bearings and gouged piston walls as well.

M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
3 months ago
Citrus
Citrus
3 months ago

My driver’s ed teacher bought one of these – in a delightful orange that I wish was still common today – and would occasionally spend half a class complaining about how much she hated it and how she regretted buying it.

I feel as though a driver’s ed teacher should spend more time contemplating a purchase but what do I know?

Njd
Njd
3 months ago

I learned to drive in my mom’s neon. I loved that little car.

Kvally
Kvally
3 months ago

I wasn’t a fan of the Neon back in the day. But seeing cars of yesteryear make me sad today with the CUV/SUV and electric domination. I recently bought a 2023 BMW 330i xDrive, as cars are becoming obsolete. This article almost makes me wish I would have had the forethought to buy one of these Neons and kept it new until now.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
3 months ago

I wonder why the Petersen Museum decided they needed this in the first place and why they decided they didn’t need it any more?

Greg Winson
Greg Winson
3 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

It was part of a safety testing display. I took a pic of the car when I visited the museum in 2013 (and I drove almost the same car at the time). https://twitter.com/gwinson/status/1722986737473831286

Mike
Mike
3 months ago

A brand new car for $10,300? Buyer got a steal, even if he has to replace half the rubber in the thing. I’ve driven one just like this… it’s perfectly fine. Car for utility can’t be beat.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
3 months ago

“Sure, two years after these things started running around, the last vestiges of the American Dream collapsed on daytime television…”

2001- Plymouth dies. Also 2001- 9/11.

COINCIDENCE?!?!?!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
3 months ago

I thought it was about the decline of daytime soap operas. There were about a dozen back then, and now there’s only 3.

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
3 months ago

Chrysler got jealous of their building no longer being the icon of NYC…

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
3 months ago

Not fair to say that this was a spartan car, particularly in that era.

It had AC, Auto Trans, Tilt Wheel, AM/FM/Cassette, 6 speakers for the stereo.

In terms of Hi-Zoot features, it’s only missing power windows, power locks, cruise control, and power adjustable front seats, and I can’t imagine in any circumstance a car of this size/era having power seats.

There is a lot to be said about a vehicle that is designed for a job, does that job, and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is.

People love work trucks for that very reason.

JDE
JDE
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Green

But minus two point for a 3 speed auto. outside of the Jeeps and their hate for the cobbled together OD 904trans, I honestly did not think any car lacked OD by that time.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
3 months ago
Reply to  JDE

They finally put a 4-speed in the Neon for 2002, but the Corolla/Prizm still offered a 3-speed as the base/cheaper automatic option that year, those were the very last cars to offer one. Toyota seems to like that kind of honor, they were the last to offer a 4-speed manual too, in the Tercel.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
3 months ago

Are you a survivor if you never truly lived?

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
3 months ago

I would love to have a clean, low mileage, no bullshit car from the days before things got overly complex. This is that. A simple transportation tool. I don’t give a rat’s ass about collector value.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
3 months ago

well a dealer in seattle bought it, so go ahead and buy it from them when they list it

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
3 months ago

If the oil / fluids were changed, and any problematic rubber replaced…how would this thing drive (aside from it being a cheap econobox that it’s always been)?

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
3 months ago

I never see these on the street here in Indiana, yet plenty of Cavaliers. Not sure why they all passed away, I don’t think the engine was particularly prone to failure?

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
3 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

I’m not sure if Neons rusted any more rapidly than Cavaliers and that caused it, or just owner neglect as IIRC the Neons used timing belts vs. chains for the Cavaliers. But also could just be based on sales volume, Cavaliers consistently sold well over 200k/yr for most of the 90s and into the 2000s, while Neon sales only crested over 200k in its first few years and then fell every year that followed. In 2003 over twice as many Cavaliers (256k) were sold as there were Neons (120k). So even if the same % of each survived, that’s a lot more Cavaliers.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
3 months ago

I think you hit the nail on the head with the timing belt vs. chain for Neons vs. J-bodies. Timing belt snapping would be more than most economically-challenged and maintenance neglecting owners will manage.

Last edited 3 months ago by That Guy with the Sunbird
Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
3 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

warped cylinder heads that Chrysler refused to warranty or recall, rusted out fuel filler necks (love that smell of raw gas filling the garage), generally shit build quality.

these cars are the epitomy of why all MOPAR products are trash.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
3 months ago

Should get sold to a TV and film rental company, that way things set in the 1999-2001 timeframe can have one less “new” car with a cracked dash and failed clear coat

Last Pants
Last Pants
3 months ago

The steering wheel is definitely upside down. This era had the worst steering wheels. I call them Pillow style.
Basically there are three styles of steering wheels. Classic, Pillow, and Busy. Now, most styles can be found in any era but when they we’re trying to figure out airbags, Pillow reigned supreme.

Last edited 3 months ago by Last Pants
Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
3 months ago
Reply to  Last Pants

Totally agree, that wheel breaks my brain. I’d have to remove the nut and flip it around.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
3 months ago

I rented one of these when a taxi bumped the back of my 62 Ford Galaxy and subsequently an exhaust pipe leak set one of the rear tires on fire and I needed something to drive for the weekend.

It wasn’t quite a “simplify and add lightness“ situation, but it certainly was not a “simplify and add durability” situation either. Fun to drive though.

The first generation would be the one to have if you were collecting it as a design object however, second generation of anything isn’t quite the same.

Last edited 3 months ago by Hugh Crawford
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
3 months ago

That $14775 is $26408.73 today – more than a Chevy Trax. So I would submit that you can get a better car for the money; this was crap when it came out, and it’s still crap today. What is the value of a perfectly-preserved turd? Apparently $10k to someone.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
3 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Remember, there isn’t a chance in hell that this thing sold for MSRP, where hardly anything sells for less than MSRP right now.

That being said, good point.

JDE
JDE
3 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

well the Trax is massive crap now, so I am not sure that argument plays out for me.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
3 months ago
Reply to  JDE

Every review of the new Trax has said it is good, but think the point is more that it’s a lot of car for the money compared to the Neon that had just the basics and wasn’t even an expensive small car for the time like a Civic or Corolla was. You could also sub in any number of cars today for $26k and it would still be valid even if they’re not necessarily feature/content rich – a Honda HR-V gets the same mileage but more space, a Civic is roomier and more efficient, you can get almost twice the mileage as the Neon in a Corolla hybrid for thousands less. And all have way more safety equipment.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago

Cars like this are the nuclear missiles of the car world – the value resides in possessing them; once you use them, it drops to zero.

My girlfriend in the mid-’90s bought this exact car, just in black. I pushed so hard for her to get nitro yellow-green, but she was maddeningly practical. Always enjoyed driving it, very nimble and balanced, though felt sluggish with an auto.

Master P
Master P
3 months ago

I cannot possibly fathom paying $26.4k in adjusted dollars for a new car with a three speed auto, in 2000.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
3 months ago
Reply to  Master P

If Master P can’t justify the cost, it’s got to be a bad deal

Jeff Diamond
Jeff Diamond
3 months ago

Still a piece of crap. My brother bought one of these new straight out of college and after 10,000 miles the POS began to disintegrate! Everything body, suspension, engine. When he finally traded it in for peanuts he was happy just to see it go.

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