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Yugo GV

Yugofender 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.

Yugogvxcabrio The first video sums up the markets into which Yugo was hoping to make inroads; the second video focuses on Yugo's warranty and reliability for the price.

The fender shot at the top is from Jalopnik's Evil Clint's 1987 Yugo GV Flickr set

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."
So, I'm obviously a Yugo apologist. While I intellectually understand all of the legions of problems with the Yugo, I can't help but like it. It's a good-looking little car, and there's something comforting in its humbleness. And unlike another humble small car, the Ford Tempo, the Yugo at least is an interesting litle beast. Not particularly competent--in fact, spectacularly incompetent--but incredibly interesting all the same. It's a shame Yugos have become the punchline to any joke about bad cars, synonymous with automotive misery. Just check out the last video for an example.

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.


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Oh. My. God. He's serious. Though, to be honest, there is about as much insane with the people who like wheezing old Triumphs and Rovers. As a hobby it's not much fun to have a car that is reliable; you want reasons to keep going back to the garage.

I think they look pretty cool. They'd be a fantastic project with a honda b-series and some bolt ons. 160-180hp in a yugo? Yes please! :)

Next on Car Lust: the Adobe. The great little car that's made out of clay!

I'll repeat something I said last year: the Yugo looks nice. It looks like a Rabbit. Too bad it did not have the Rabbit's mechanicals to go with its Rabbit looks.

I agree, CookieTDO - and that's why while I'm intrigued about a hot-rod Yugo, I'm not optimistic that it would work particularly well. A weak engine is not the Yugo's biggest problem - the rest of the car is.

Will: "Next on Car Lust: the Adobe. The great little car that's made out of clay!"

The Adobe, eh? I agree with your views and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Have never driven a Yugo but did own a Fiat 127, on which it was based. That was a great drive with the great steering & handling making up for a lack of power. You don't have to go fast to have fun!

The only issue is how many remain in street-worthy condition? A quick search on Ebay turned up none for sale.

Even a weak Honda non-vtec B18 would probably warp the frame. You could, however, build a stealth racer with a tube frame and Yugo body panels. Buy a junked Yugo for the title and a VIN, and go hunt some unsuspecting Porsches...

The Yugo. How can you not love this car? It is so much better than a Lada. Nice crisp lines - not pretentious. I love the Yugo precisely because it is an underdog and it delivers exactly what it promises. Making the Yugo the brunt of jokes is like kicking a puppy.

Where ever I go, Yugo!

Yugos were different from the start in more ways than their low price. They were cheap, which is different from inexpensive. I remember an automotive column stating that Yugo interiors were momentarily unavailable, since the Turkish towel industry wasn't in operation. They did however have their short time in the spotlight in the movie "Drowning Mona." For those who haven't seen it, it is good for a laugh.

I remember seeing one of these in "Hot Rod" magazine, it had a small block chevy in it, no lie......

The first two vids I never saw but I definitly remember the Midas ad...

But Yugo always brings this to mind...LOL

And in Seattle, at a garage on Aurora, there was the We-go. It was the front of TWO yugos welded together back to back - it and the Lincoln "Toe truck" did all the parades back in the day. I wonder if it's still around.

Speaking of nostalgia, anyone remember, "Friends don't let friends drive Yugos?"

I almost bought one - there was a dealership in L.A. selling "brand-new," never-sold '86 Yugos in 1988 for only $1,800. Even if it was a total piece of garbage, that price would be worth all the great stories you'd be telling!

It's call a Yugo because most of their owners were saying much too frequently:

"you go, my car's broke, again."

The sad part about the Yugo is there is no way a car like this would ever make it to the United States again. Thanks to transferable warranties, a car like the Yugo isn't just competing against cheap new cars - it's also competing against just as cheap used cars, and, since cars are being built better than they used to be, being cheap and quirkily unreliable just won't cut it anymore. On the one hand, that's good because it means people won't be burning thousands of dollars on a car that will fall apart in a year. On the other hand, that's bad because we won't have stories about Yugos or Daewoos anymore to amuse us.

The world is both better and more boring for it.

I'm not sure Daewoos are entirely bad.

Worked with a guy that had bought a Yogo. We teased him about it, but it kept running and bringing him to work everyday. This was unusual, especially for him, since he had gone through a run of bad luck with cars. We'd ask and tease him about the car frequently. Finaly he came in with a sad look on his face.
"Well did it finaly do its thing a break down on you?" We asked.
"No,I was in the right lane and an eighteen wheeler was in the left.
He had gotten into the left lane so he could swing wide for a right hand turn and he didn't notice me. He crushed the Yogo into retaining wall. I had to dive out the passengers window and scramble over the wall. The Yugo is now about three feet wide.
He had about the only working Yugo in town and still managed to lose it.

I only rode once in a Yugo; it was owned by a real estate agent who was showing me something.

I especially liked the front seat upholstery made of beach-towel material.

"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."

Heh, Chris. Just the other day I was walking around View Ridge (another fairly swanky neighborhood here) and there was an old Tempo/Topaz sitting in the driveway.

"I'm not sure Daewoos are entirely bad."

You'd be correct. Some were a little crude but the engineering and build is sound. My Leganza made it to 90,000 with one singular trip to the shop for an oil leak, after I'd unmercifully whipped it for years. Hell, I even used to race it in Solo II. The car saw several 2000+ mile road trips too, usually loaded to the gills.

Only reason I'm not driving it today is that a highway accident took it out. Even after whipping around at 55mph (combo puddle and blowout) and slamming the nose into the median and THEN driving it off the highway over a 2' drop into construction, it was running, and not leaking a drop of anything. A fair bit shorter though, and I'd warped all the suspension mounts...

The Aveo everyone gleefully loves to deride is a good example... yeah, it's slow and not particularly efficient, but you've also got to remember that it's basic design was laid down as the Lanos in what, 1995? Send an aveo back to 1995 and it's an incredible car compared to most of the competition. I *really* wish GM-DAT would drop the Aussie Series II engine already.

Side note: I should have yanked the factory radio out of mine when I got the rest of the stuff out of it at the yard. I've not yet seen anything close to it as far as ease of use without looking cheap or sounding bad.

DrStrange: Yeah, if I could find a nice Daewoo Lanos sport, with a 5spd, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Red and black leather interior, metallic dash, sweet factory alloys and porsche tuned suspension.... for pennis, and gets 41mpg?

Yes please!


I can't argue, I drove a Festiva Deathtrap '93

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