Let's just get one thing out of the way right here and now: This is a Car Lust. This isn't some halfhearted, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, acerbic attempt at humor or irony (Chris Hafner: Already done!). I really, truly, honestly, and completely would drive a Yugo GV with pride if it were presented to me. Oh, and yes, I also know where the mental asylum is in my home town, but that's entirely unrelated.
In 1985, under the auspices of Malcolm Bricklin, the first Yugo GV ("Great Value") was imported into California at the low price of $3,990; according to the official CPI calculator, that works out to $8,124.10 in today's dollars. This puts it a full $2,000 less than a Chevy Aveo or even the most stripped out Kia. Buyers who picked up a Yugo were treated to a Fiat 127 redone with VW Rabbit-inspired styling, all built under the careful eye of the best, most talented workers that Zastava could muster. Thus, buyers were treated to an affordable, modern, stylish twist of an old tried-and-true design. This formula would be used again 10 years later to bring the Daewoo Lanos to our shores.
The Yugo GV was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a performance demon, something which Chris touched on with some derision nearly a year ago. It was equipped with a 1.1-liter 4-cylinder and a 4-speed manual, which, put together, gave the Yugo gas mileage figures that match up well against a modern-day Hyundai Accent. Unfortunately, it only generated 55 horsepower, which didn't bode well for its acceleration or top speed. Compared to some of its contemporaries, however, it measured up reasonably well, especially given its price; a base Dodge Omni of that time, for example, had a 64 horsepower, and the Chevette never came equipped with more than 70 horsepower. Both cost at least $1,000 more.
It's true that the Yugo GV had its flaws. Life is about compromises, and getting that base price down took quite a few of them. For all its faults, however, it accomplished what it was meant to accomplish very well. In a time when transferrable warranties only existed in the imaginations of addicts in smoke-filled opium dens, the Yugo was a very affordable way for young, first-time buyers to purchase a car, secure in the fact that, were something to go wrong, the dealer would take care of it. This certainly wasn't an option on any used Omni, Chevette, or Civic. In short, the Yugo was an adequate car built and delivered at the perfect time.
Chris Hafner: At the conclusion of my snide GVX post, I admitted:
"What has been so far left unsaid in this sordid tale is that part of me--and not a small part--thinks the Yugo is actually not a terrible-looking car. I'm ashamed to say that that I came this close to making the Yugo GVX a Car Lust instead of a Car Disgust."
There's an expensive waterfront house in Seattle that I pass somewhat regularly that always has a Yugo and an AMC Pacer in the front driveway--the sheer absurdity of the combination is fantastic.
Yes, Yugo did briefly import a cabriolet--and I'd definitely drive it. Thanks to the photo go out to Flickr user Sherlock77.