It’s been nearly two decades since Dodge produced the Neon SRT-4. Despite a short three-year run, The SRT-4 made a mark in motorsport.

  • Multiple class wins in One Lap of America.
  • National road racing championships.
  • Utter dominance in rally racing.

Doug Shepherd owns this SRT-4. If that name sounds familiar, you might know his father, Doug Shepherd. (For simplicity purposes, we’ll refer to the elder Shepherd as “Doug Sr.”) Doug Sr. was an incredible rally racer, winning 12 national championships as driver and 8 as a co-driver. Doug Sr. also knew a little bit about the SRT-4. He worked as an engineer for Chrysler. This car pays tribute to the one Doug Sr. ran back in 2003.

There were a group of Chrysler engineers who were rally enthusiasts,” says Doug Jr. “There was some history of Dodge Motorsports providing support for rally racing in the 1980s. At an engineering management level, [they] were involved in the creation of the road-going SRT-4 and the rally version of it.”

Doug Shepherd, the junior. Photo by J.A. Ackley.

Doug Sr. passed that engineering and racing spirit down to his son, although Doug Jr. doesn’t receive checks from the company best known for a stylized M.

I actually work for General Motors,” says Doug. “I’m an assistant program engineering manager for autonomous vehicles. There’s a handful of GM employees doing this [rally racing] in our spare time, in a Dodge, a Mazda and a Volkswagen.”

Doug led the effort behind the creation of the tribute car.

Photo by J.A. Ackley.

We started with a brand-new bare shell,” Doug says. “We had TRF [Thompson Racing Fabrication] put a roll cage in. The biggest differences from a road-going car are the suspension, with KW coil-overs, and underbody protection. The rear wheels are stock, but the fronts are Panasports. We’ve got a welded front differential and a special gear set in the transmission.

The powertrain is mostly stock, with what were at the time upgrades available from Mopar. It’s got a bigger turbo, tuning, bigger fuel injectors. It’s basically making the fastest car available from the factory with what the available accessories were. You could go to Mopar or a Dodge dealership and order those parts.”

Photo by J.A. Ackley.

The NASA Rally Sport-sanctioned McCreary Gravel Rally in Kentucky marked Doug’s third-ever competitive event.

I’m still learning the car, learning how to build speed,” says Doug. “[My father] told me just point it where you want it to go with moderate throttle application, and it will just go there, and there’s little fuss about it.”

Helping also with the effort was his co-driver, Chris LaBaere.

This is his second event ever,” Doug says. “We were roommates at Michigan Tech. He does program management for transmissions [at GM]. He did a good job the first time he [co-drove]. We’re learning together and having a good time.”

Co-driver Chris LaBaere and driver Doug Shepherd. Photo by J.A. Ackley.

So how did these two rally rookies do in a car that pays tribute to a national rally legend? Second-place in the 2WD class of the Atlantic Rally Cup and a first in the NASA Rally Sport O2H class.

Not too shabby for two engineers just looking to have some fun in car that still holds its own more than 20 years later.

Photo by J.A. Ackley.

[For more SRT-4 content, check out one of our past project cars here]



The only fwd car I’ve ever wanted (new). GLHS, notwithstanding.

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