I've wanted to write this post for a long time. Think like three years. Basically, ever since I started California Streets I've wanted to feature a Yugo, and today it comes to light. It shouldn't be too surprising when I tell you they are hard as heck to find!
The Yugo has a horrible reputation in the United States as the worst car in history. Is it warranted? Probably not. People love to hate cheap cars that are terrible. Even I like to hate terrible cars. But at the same time I find myself coming to love cars everyone else hates. I'm one of those people whose fantasy garage includes a Ford Pinto and an Edsel and numerous AMC products. Meanwhile I frequently loathe cars that are rock-steady reliable, popular and yet so ungodly boring I can't understand why anyone buys them.
The Yugo came to market in the United States when Malcolm Bricklin decided there was room in the market for a cheap hatchback at the very bottom of the price spectrum. Bricklin had already brought us some stinkers in the form of early Subaru imports (the 360 as a VW Beetle competitor) and the fiberglass Bricklin SV-1 "safety sports car" with its unusual gullwing doors. Now he set his sights on the little Fiat 127-based hatchback built in Yugoslavia by Zastava Automobiles.
The funny thing is, in its home market, the Yugo endures. Zastava was still cranking out thousands of them years after Yugo pulled out of the US market. New variants were created, the front clip was facelifted, and you could still buy a Zastava Koral with the same basic body up until 2008.