Monday, October 10, 2011

1991 Yugo - Lots of Flaws, Lots of Character

Even people who like Yugos will admit that they were not great cars. They're slow, noisy, not well put together, not very reliable, and not especially fun to drive.

Zastava knew this too and right up to the very end of their run in the US they were trying to improve the car. After taking over North American distribution from Malcolm Bricklin , filing a reorganization bankruptcy and importing no cars in 1989, Yugo came back with this car.

While it was pretty much the same car, there were some changes. The most significant were the improvements to the drivetrain. The 1100cc carbureted engine was replaced by a 1300cc OHC engine with Bosch fuel injection. Just as significant was the transmission, which was now a 5 speed manual. Inside, the angle of the steering wheel was changed along with some interior trim, but the interior of the Yugo was still a fairly unpleasant place.

None of these improvements made the Yugo a great car of course, but they did improve reliability and made it more than tolerable to drive.

Even with this improved car, Zastava was doomed in North America. For most of the 1990s they were crippled by the UN, US and EU trade sanctions slapped on Yugoslavia. In 1999 NATO dropped a few bombs on the factory which, amazingly, didn't halt production, but certainly slowed it down.

I'll take some heat for saying this, but I like Yugos. I like them for no other reason than because they have personality and character. I mentioned that in an earlier post and JaCG reader, Alden, summed it up perfectly with this comment: "The things that gives cars character, are their character flaws".

This car, even with its "improvements" still has a ton of flaws and a ton of character. As I've said so many times before, that is something that is missing in today's cars.

Apparently, quite a few other people are starting to appreciate the Yugo's character. As I write this, this car - in good overall condition - has been bid up to $1500.00 by 9 separate bidders, with 3 days to go in the auction. For a car that was selling routinely for less than $500.00 just a few years ago, that's huge money.

Located in Shelby Twp, MI, click here to see the eBay listing.

The seller includes 3 short videos of this car in his ad, which you can find here, here and here.


rrshadow2 said...

That's Super Cool! Especially being a later Fuel Injected car. I bought a Yugo New back in 1986, it was red with the tan terrycloth seats, was a fairly decent car for what it was and the best part is was Cheap!

Max Power said...

I still have a warm spot for Yugos...and would still love to own a yellow/silver Cabrio like the one I saw at the NY Auto Show some 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout-out. I still read your blog regularly.My Uncle had a Yugo , bought new, back in the late 80s. The little that I was exposed to it reinforced my belief that it was a decent design that was poorly executed. A little more quality control and better materials and the Yugo could have been a serious contender vs a used car.

Daniel said...

You know the joke (it was quite common in Eastern Europe in the 90s): the best feature of this Yugo is the heated back windscreen. It would warm your hands when when you have to push the car...

JT said...

I remember at a dealer's lot in SC they literally had a buy 1 get 1 free deal on the Yugo.

Anonymous said...

Never drove one, but having owned a Fiat 128, the car the Yugo was later based on, I can say they must be at least fun to drive. The motors in these (I could swear it was a 1.5, not a 1.1 or 1.3) rev up nicely. The dash looks different on this one from what I remember from the late 80's models. Did they redesign it near the end of production?

steve-vh said...

And in Michigan. Everyone here knows it's the infamous car literally blown right off the Mackinaw Bridge, killing the driver.

m4ff3w said...

The Yugo GVX came with a carb'd 1300. I had an 88 with a Fiat 1500 swapped in.

It was fun to drive.

The fuel injected Yugos actually had a nice FI system, Bosch Motronic. It was actually the first Motronic that used MAP for metering and not AFM (flappy door).

Anonymous said...

I had one 1988 Yugo GV-L Android it was a nice car. Overall the body construction was SOLID. Galvanized steel panels ( thicker than than the steel panels of my 1987 SUZUKI Forsa ) I really like the "monocoque" unibody design of the YUGO. Really fun to drive, schetcht while shifting but it was no sports car, it was Android econobox.... pretty good for a ride on the country side