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By 87,000 miles, chances are the head gasket has been replaced at least once, hopefully with the upgraded version. If not, it's a common point of failure on all Chrysler 2.0 and 2.4L 4-cylinder engines. If you can't get Chrysler to foot the bill, it'll run you about $700 to have it replaced, assuming no other damage has been done.
There's no difference between the Dodge and Plymouth versions; most of the 2-door Neons were built in Toluca, Mexico, while the 4-doors are more likely to have been built in Belvidere, Illinois.
Finally you can order the 2002 neon with a 4 speed automatic. Maybe this will be enough to get the rags to cut the neon a little slack, I doubt it.