Thursday, August 4, 2011

1990 Yugo Cabrio - Glad To See It's Still Around

Wow. I know this car.

If you look at the post I wrote about a Renault R12, there is a picture of my R12 at the bottom. That was taken in the yard of a friend of mine, Dave. Dave had a respectable, but not great, body shop set up in his garage. He also had a dealer's license that allowed him to get into salvage auctions. Every couple of months he would head out to one of the auctions, buy a couple of wrecked Subarus, fix them and sell them.

One night he called me and told me I should stop by his house and check out the "weird thing" he picked up at the auction that day. The "weird thing" turned out to be this Yugo. He bought it with the intention of repairing it for his daughter, who was about to get her license.

A couple of months later Dave and his wife divorced and his daughter moved with his ex-wife to Texas. The Yugo sat for a few years. Dave eventually decided to sell it.

As the seller writes, this car was in tough shape. I don't think Dave was aware of the engine and transmission problems as he never tried to start it. (Dave didn't like doing mechanical work - He'd just swap some body work with a local mechanic for any mechanical work a car needed.) The problems with the body were obvious.

This was the first Yugo Cabrio I had ever seen in person. I crawled around it quite a bit. The first thing that struck me was that it wasn't a bad looking car. Secondly, it was pretty well engineered. It wasn't simply a chop job.

I think I saw the car again at Lime Rock a number of years back, but I'm not 100% sure. It was parked in the Fiat / Lancia "corral". The owner was not around. I wanted to wait around for him and ask if he had bought it from Dave, but the person I was with wanted to leave. (She actually wanted to leave about 3 hours earlier and I knew I was already pressing my luck... Never, ever bring a non-car geek to Lime Rock - or to any car event you enjoy. Go alone if you have to. Lesson learned.) It didn't look much different than it did when it was at Dave's.

It sure is different now... It's not clear how much bodywork was done (It didn't need much as it was a recovered theft, not a wreck. When I saw it again at Lime Rock I was impressed at how rust free it was, especially given that it sat in an unfinished garage at Dave's house in the Berkshires and then made its way to Vermont...), but mechanically it's been done over.

The mechanical and suspension upgrades are extremely impressive and too long to list here. But, suffice it to say, this might be one of the most fun to drive Yugo Cabrios on the planet.

I love it when I see an old car I'm familiar with restored and back on the road. I hope the new owner is an East Coast person and I get to see it again at Lime Rock or some local car show.

There are just 3 pictures on the eBay listing, but you car find 25+ here.

Located in South Royalton, VT, click here to see the eBay listing.

4 comments:

Chris Keen said...

someone's got an obsession - there's a Fiat 131/Brava parked next to the Yugo in the last pic.

Blair Russell said...

You saw a Yugo Cabrio in person... awesome.

TGM said...

Yugo's were the butt of many jokes, but they were actually pretty good cars in terms of the engine/suspension design. I remember sitting in one in a Chrysler showroom back in the late 1980's. They felt sparce and small compared to other cars. Being esentially a Fiat 128, they were lightweight and fun to drive. Americans (including myself at the time) didn't really understand these cars. Their allure wasn't supposed to be about the price, it was about the efficient and fun size, high revving engine and driving feel. It was designed as a city car for Europe, never intended to fly down Amercian intersatates going 70+ mph in comfort as people here expected.

Anonymous said...

Yugos were not as bad as most people think. With regular maintenance they can be quite reliable. They are not a lot of fun to drive without doing some engine suspension upgrades. A lot of Fiat items bolt right in.