Home » Track, Daily, Burn: Alfa 164 vs Honda Civic vs Olds Cruiser

Track, Daily, Burn: Alfa 164 vs Honda Civic vs Olds Cruiser

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Good morning! I hope everyone enjoyed their food coma yesterday. It’s time to take a break from the early-bird doorbuster sales and choose the fate of our three winners from this week. Wednesday’s results should come as no surprise:
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Comfortable win for the Cutlass. We do love our station wagons, don’t we? The Sable is a nice car, but there’s just something about a wagon.

Well, with that, we have three winners. So now, we’re going to pit them against each other in an automotive version of that old party game classic: Choose one car to use as your daily driver, one to set up for some form of automotive competition, and one to go up in flames.

1991 Alfa Romeo 164L

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This jet-black Alfa handily beat out a Rover SD1 on Monday. It’s a five-speed manual, but keep in mind that the 164 is front wheel drive. It’s certainly nice and comfortable enough for a daily driver, but Alfa reliability is a bit ephemeral; one day this car will bite you on the ass. Best to pay for the roadside assistance on this one.

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On the other hand, it has several decades of proud motorsport heritage behind it. This car is a bit big and heavy for a track toy, but you’d certainly gain points for style. It seems a shame to burn something so pretty, but I guess, if the other two appeal to you more…

 

1984 Honda Civic S

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Here we have a nicely-preserved, though very high mileage, third-generation Honda Civic hatchback. Light, tossable, and easily modifiable, this car would make an excellent weekend warrior. But then again, it also gets great gas mileage, and Honda has the polar opposite reputation of Alfa when it comes to reliability, so you could easily commute in it.

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But not comfortably. This is a tiny, tinny car, easily swallowed up in highway traffic, and tiresome to drive on long trips. And with something like 360,000 miles on the clock, it has to be feeling pretty used-up by now. And it is already rusting out, as nearly all older Hondas do. Is it better to burn out than to fade away?

 

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser

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Which brings us to our last competitor. Easily the smoothest ride of the bunch, with a low-stress V6 known for reliability and longevity, a mushy automatic transmission, and those nice soft wide seats. It would be laughable on a track, but sometimes laughter is what you’re going for. If you could tighten up the suspension, maybe swap in a manual (they did exist in A-bodies; they were very few and far between, but they made ’em), you could “win” an autocross event even if you came in last.

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But daily use is probably what this car is best for. However, I know hatred of GM products is something of a popular sport in this crowd, so I anticipate a lot of voices choosing to burn it. Poor Oldsmobile.

Personally, what I’d pick: Track the Alfa, daily the Olds, and burn the Civic. Sorry, Honda fans. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments, enjoy your weekend, and I’ll see you all back here on Monday.

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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40 Responses

  1. I know i’m late to the party here, but I already daily the Olds and it is GLORIOUS! In fact, that’s its engine in my profile pic. You see my smile?? that’s a big ‘olds’ grin! I took the damn thing camping on Friday and slept in the back and it was amazing. Also, rear facing seats are a crowd pleaser.

    Daily the OLDS
    Track the ALFA (it’s italian… duh)
    Burn the HONDA (hurts to say it, but that OLDS is a great daily in pretty much any comparo)

  2. Track the Alfa, because with the way I drive (slow and steady wins the race), style points are all I have.
    Daily the Olds, because if I have to daily one of these, those plush comfy seats will make it easier, plus I can keep up the maintenance on that v6.
    Burn the Honda, as much as I love this era of Hondas, I watched my 87 Accord rust away even though the engine continued to run great. If the rust has started its only going to get much worse.

  3. Track: Civic. Slow means fast, better to learn car control with. Can be deceptively fast with cheap mods and in the right hands at a track day.

    Daily: The Cutlass. V6, wagon. 3.1’s are decent motors if you keep up with the maintenance. GM build quality (or lack thereof) might get you, but still best daily choice.

    Burn: The Alfa. My 3rd grade teacher had an Alfa Spider……if she didn’t drive it to school, it was in the shop….and that was more frequent.

    Sidenote: Said 3rd grade teacher also was a huge fan of the America’s Cup…..and we watched Black Magic kick the shit out of Young America in the ’95 Cup.

  4. Burn the Alfa. The chances are pretty good that the Alpha electrics will take care of this for you. Track the Civic (although, I would probably daily it), and daily the Olds.

  5. Daily the Honda, because a) it’s a reliable Civic, b) this is by far my favorite Civic design! The seriously considered getting one as a secondary car. (Owner of a 9G Civic Tourer FK2 here…)

    Track the Alfa, because I assume a single track day is all it can take…

    And burn the last one, because I have zero relationship or loyalty to these classics US brands.

  6. Track the Civic – its an Si its what its meant for anyway right?
    Daily the Alfa – why would you not? Doesn’t everyone want a bit of will it won’t it on the way to work everyday
    Burn the Olds – this was never a good car in the first place

  7. Track the Civic; it’s light, can probably be made to handle pretty well, and there’s enough of an aftermarket to keep tweaking & improving it into a pretty solid track toy; it’s also not rare or pristine enough to feel bad about running hard.
    Daily the Alfa; bit of a risky choice, but it’s a car I’d want to spend time in, and I’d be willing to roll the dice on keeping it running.
    Burn the Olds; Feel a bit bad about putting the torch to this, but, while I’m sure it’s more comfortable, practical and reliable, I can’t bring myself to torch the alfa, and it’s not going to come close to the Honda on the track (possibly alright for lemons, but too expensive to be eligible).

  8. Definitely track the Alfa,cause it’s a v6 Alfa dammit. Reliability is not a issue. Daily the Olds, because why wouldn’t you. Finally,burn the Civic. Nice car and all,but this one is used up and honestly nothing special.

  9. Track the Olds because I care more about a goofy challenge than serious lap times.

    Daily the Civic, because it’s a Honda

    Don’t need to burn the Alfa, because it’s probably already done so.

  10. Daily the Olds. Track the Alfa. Sorry, Civic. Although since it has a case of tin worm and 80’s Hondas rust like mad, well, symbolically snip a few threads from the seats and get busy with the welder. That counts as burning, right?

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