Flashback to 1969 for a moment. Arguably one of the most monumental years in our nation's brief history, it was a year of epic proportions. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, hippie love filled the air at Woodstock and anti-war sentiment was at an all-time high. But because this is Modifed and not your American history class, I'll focus on what really matters to us as automotive enthusiasts. The year 1969 is regarded by many as the "Golden Era" of American muscle. As the Russians competed against America in the space race, Detroit's Big 3 partook in, what I call, the horsepower race. Dealership showrooms were filled with various high-powered models, the common theme being "more is better." With so many potent options, it was tough to go wrong when deciding on a vehicle of choice.
Now fast-forward 40 years. We're still involved in a futile war, hippies still roam aimlessly in a haze of marijuana smoke, but in terms of automotive performance, there has been a backward trend over the last few years. Tightening emission standards, rising gas prices and a looming recession have forced the Big 3 to focus more on efficiency rather than raw power. Gas-guzzling V-8s are being replaced by gutless hybrids, and option packages now include heated cup holders instead of four-barrel carburetors. Eric Boariu couldn't give a damn if his mocha latte gets cold; his '04 Dodge SRT-4 wasn't built to putter along in the slow lane doing 55.
Front-wheel drive, four doors and four cylinders aren't usually the first words that come to mind when describing American muscle, but this nasty Neon is an exception to the rule. In stock form, the SRT-4 makes 230 hp from the turbocharged, 2.4-liter block. This is good enough for a 5.6-second sprint to 60 mph, behind only the Viper among the '03 Chrysler/Dodge family.
Eric purchased the car in 2006 and went to work on bumping up the horsepower. He ed the guys over at Realtune Performance and decided an AGP turbo kit would satisfy his needs. Included in the kit was a Garrett turbo, AGP cast T3 manifold, AGP dump tube, AGP O2 housing and dual Walbro fuel pumps. To complete the turbo setup, a Turbonetics external wastegate and HKS SSQ blow-off valve were sourced. To supply the extra fuel, a set of RC 750cc fuel injectors were installed along with a Full Blown fuel rail. An Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator and a Realtune fuel return line kit round out the fuel system. To reduce heat soak to a minimum, an AGP Race front-mount intercooler was added in addition to an AGP 3-inch cold-air intake. The exhaust system is a 3-inch, side-exit turboback from Maxx Fabrication. NGK spark plugs and Granatelli spark plug wires make up the ignition modifications.
Not to neglect the rest of the car, Eric turned his attention to the suspension setup. A set of BC Racing coilovers were selected to provide the right combination of stiffness and comfort for the street.
Hotchkis sway bars add rigidity to both the front and rear of the vehicle while the BC camber plates were installed to offer proper alignment. In order to put power to the ground, Eric purchased a set of 225/40/18 Lexani tires wrapped around 18x7.5-inch RSL Ricochet wheels.
After a long dyno session that resulted in catastrophe, Eric went back to Realtune for a complete engine rebuild. He went with the company's Spec 3 built block that includes JE 8:1 forged pistons, JE rings and Crower rods. A South Bend Stage 5 clutch was installed to handle the new power levels. The AEM EMS was then retuned and the car put down an impressive 493 hp to the front wheels. At the track, Eric peeled off a blistering 10.81 quarter-mile at 130 mph on slicks. When asked why he built the car, Eric says, "I am pushing for the fastest, 5-speed SRT-4 that can be daily driven." With his goal in sight, Eric has a few plans for the near future including a bigger turbo from AGP, a 4-inch intake and a lengthened first gear.
In just two short years, Eric's car has gone from a mild, stock sedan to an unruly, import-eating animal. He would like to give special thanks to Aaron and the rest of the crew at Realtune Performance as well as AGP for supplying the turbo kit. And although it has half the number of cylinders as its pushrod ancestors, this car has no problem keeping up with the fastest street cars in the world, domestic or imported. Musclecar gods are smiling somewhere in horsepower heaven.
Specs & Details
'04 Dodge SRT-4
Engine & Drivetrain
Realtune Performance Spec 3 built block; AGP 60 trim; HKS SSQ BOV; AGP intercooler pipes, 3" intake, race intercooler, sheetmetal intake manifold, motor and tranny mounts; MaxxFab 3" side-exit exhaust; AEM boost solenoid; RC 750cc injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; Full Blown fuel rail, dual Walbro in-tank fuel pumps; DCR 55mm throttle body, oil pump and gears; South Bend Stage 5 modular clutch
P-Werks tri-point front strut bar; BC coilovers, camber plates; FTP-Racing traction bars, chassis brace; Energy Suspension LCA bushings
Electronics & Engine
Management Auto Meter 30/30 boost gauge and oil-pressure gauge; AEM oideband and EMS
Wheels & Tires
18 X 7.5" RSL Ricochet wheels; 225/40/18 Lexani tires; slicks
Exterior & Interior
Tinted corners and RX300 tails; KLight 600K HIDs; black housing headlights; black S-style eyelids; Viper emblem; silver stripes; Realtune etched shift ball; Prestige alarm system