By on February 4, 2015

YugoCabrio

Society likes stories about failure. Who knows how many people have bought books about the fall of financial institutions, tech companies, sports teams, organized crime families, and politicians? People interested in the automotive industry are no exception when it comes to stories of failure. Bob Lutz never wastes any time discussing the sales flop that was the Pontiac Aztek. A movie was made about the failure of the Tucker Car Corporation. And society as a whole loves to tell jokes about the Yugo, widely thought of as among the worst cars of recent history.

But sometimes it’s just as worthwhile to read about the achievements, especially when attaining the end goal seems improbable. The achievements are what historian Jason Vuic focuses on in The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History. To Vuic, the fact that a group of people managed to get together and sell the Zastava Yugo in the United States was an extraordinary achievement, illustrating the circumstances to the last detail. He emphasizes the projects undertaken by Yugo America Inc., from making sure the Yugo could meet US emissions standards, that the construction of the car could meet actual quality standards, and gain customers.

The story of the Yugo would not be complete without the story of Malcolm Bricklin, and Vuic doesn’t disappoint in that area. Vuic first covers Bricklin and his foray into a franchising hardware stores (which went belly-up due to lack of a warehouse) before writing about the automotive-related ventures. Vuic starts by dedicating a chapter to Bricklin introducing Subaru to America. (He was promptly forced out of Subaru by new investors after the Subaru 360 was given a terrible review by the Consumers Union.) After that there’s another chapter on the Bricklin SV-1. (The SV-1 stood for Safety Vehicle 1; it wasn’t, with heavy, leaky doors and shoddy fiberglass-backed acrylic body panels.) And then comes a chapter about Bricklin importing the FIAT X1/9 and the Spider. (Those were way too expensive for the 1980s.)

By the first third of the book and before ending the story of the Yugo in America, Vuic portrays Bricklin as a man capable of raising immense amounts of money, but ultimately incapable of producing lasting results. However, Vuic emphasizes the achievements rather than failures. In the case of Subaru, Bricklin at least brought Subaru to America. For the Bricklin SV-1, at least Malcolm Bricklin got as far as building an assembly line and delivering 1,800 cars. As for bringing the X1/9 and Spider back to America, at least he had a business partner that made important improvements to the cars.

Vuic gives numerous anecdotes of the challenges endured in ensuring the Yugo was ready for America. For instance, Vuic tells of a long fax sent to the Yugo factory in Kragujevac by Tony Ciminera, the senior vice president for production and engineering. Called the “four-meter fax” by Zastava managers, it specified all the parts of the car that needed to be added or fixed by the factory. Another involved Zastava employees drinking brandy every morning and during breaks, which seriously concerned American employees in charge of getting the cars built to US standards. One more story involved the separate “Yugo-A” line at the factory, when Zastava bosses nixed the idea of having a select group of workers be eligible for higher wages and possible bonuses for meeting targets, stating that it was impossible in their system. When Ciminera pointed out that the bosses rode to work in Mercedes cars, he received the response that “Some workers are more equal than others.”

Unlike Malcolm Bricklin’s past ventures, Yugo America took a number of steps to be taken seriously. One thing they did was hire Kissinger and Associates, Henry Kissinger’s consulting firm, to bring on a consultant named Lawrence Eagleburger, who was a former ambassador to Yugoslavia. Additionally, Henry Kissinger was needed when Yugo America considered importing the Proton Saga built in Malaysia (a rebadged second-generation Mitsubishi Mirage), due to his relationship with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, and Yugo America agreed to some hefty consulting fees ($200,000 and $10 from each Proton Saga sold in the United States). They spent millions of dollars on an ad campaign that aired when most Americans watched the evening news. The car had around 250 dealers.

As Vuic is a historian, he also concentrates on the Yugo’s impact on foreign policy. During the 1980s, American companies were looking to do business in Yugoslavia, and the Yugo was a public symbol of the relationship between the two countries. The U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia had a Yugo and traveled to local functions in the car. In the case of Yugoslavian foreign policy, exporting the Yugo was a source of hard currency for paying off massive foreign debts. Croatians did not like the Yugo as the car was built in the Serbian part of Yugoslavia and staged public protests against the Yugo’s export, due to Yugoslavia’s human rights record and the existence of political prisoners.

Close to the end of the book, Vuic puts the spotlight on one last accomplishment. And that was the Yugo’s ability to become a part of American popular culture despite the car’s exceptionally slow sales. The advertisements during the evening news put the word “Yugo” in people’s mouths. Jay Leno alluded to the Yugo during his routines on The Tonight Show during the late 1980s. David Letterman sometimes mentioned it in his Top Ten lists. The Yugo became a punchline for newspaper columnists across the country. Baby boomers will know what the Yugo was, while their faces will turn blank if asked about the Vector.

In the end, despite the accomplishments, Yugo America had to go bankrupt. The cars didn’t sell and had way too many defects, especially when compared to the cheap Japanese cars a decade earlier. There was a great deal of trepidation about safety. The fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the pending breakup of Yugoslavia meant the country had more on its mind than exporting Yugos. Furthermore, parts for the car came from different Yugoslav republics, so it was nearly impossible to continue building cars amid the tension in the region. By 1992, the Yugo couldn’t come to America anymore due to lack of inventory and lack of sales. There were no more achievements for Vuic to write about, only failures.

Be aware that this book doesn’t read like any of the Bob Lutz books. It does read like something assigned by a college history professor to undergraduate students. (All the footnotes throughout the book give that impression.) But the book’s significance lies in the fact that during the 1980s, when customers began buying up Honda, Toyota, and Nissan cars in droves, leading to a deluge of books analyzing the business practices of Japanese companies, the Yugo experience in this book provides a notable contrast, chronicling the things that went wrong for a brand with plenty of potential.

All in all, The Yugo is an excellent read, depicting the accomplishment of bringing a car made in a Communist-bloc country to America. Considering the descriptions of the factory that made it, the portrayal of the individuals involved in bringing it to America, and the quality of the Yugo itself, the fact the car was sold in the United States at all is commendable. Nevertheless, the Yugo couldn’t ever be sold in America for an extended period of time, and sooner rather than later the project ended in failure.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. If you happen to have a Yugo in Northern California, he would love to drive it sometime. (He’ll even buy a tank of gas to help double the value of the car.)

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70 Comments on “Book Review: The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The Yugo may be the worst car ever SOLD in America, but the Vega was probably the worst car MADE in America. I bet the Trabant is the world’s worst car ever made in real quantities

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      “I bet the Trabant is the world’s worst car ever made in real quantities”
      People always use the Trabant as an example of a terrible car, but they miss the point. I was designed to be simple, cheap, and light. It was designed way before crash or emissions standards. It worked very well in it’s target demographic. It’s the car the Tata Nano is trying to be. Obviously Tata’s mission is harder with crash and emissions standards.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        It was made out of garbage, so I guess you have a point it was the best car garbage ever produced

        • 0 avatar
          misha1973

          Actually, it’s not much worse than most American cars made during “Malaise’ era. It just appeared to be worse, due to lack of any real effort in the interior.
          Mechanical parts you don’t see are very similar to Fiat,often same parts, but what let Yugo down was ever-declining workmanship, when it was introduced in 1980.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “The Trabant was a steel monocoque design with the roof, trunk lid, hood, fenders, and doors made of Duroplast. Duroplast was a hard plastic (similar to Bakelite) made of recycled materials: cotton waste from the Soviet Union and phenol resins from the East German dye industry”-Wikipedia

            Garbage ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            misha1973

            Oh, I see you were talking about Trabant:) Yes, it was one of the first 99% eco-friendly cars (…when it’s engine was not running:) :) ), but also rather tasty for the pigs! I heard several stories (some of them confirmed) about pigs eating through Trabant, just out of curiosity…

  • avatar
    strafer

    Maybe Yogo would’ve had more success if Hyundai had not come ashore around the same time.
    As bad as Hyundai Excel was, it was still a much better choice than the Yogo for just a bit more cash.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      A Schwinn bicycle was a better choice then a Yugo

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        Tell you what, my first car was a Yugo and my previous mode of transportation was truly a second hand Schwinn.
        I had a metric ton in that junky little car. It was a hand-me-down from my older brother. Smurf blue, 4 speed, no power anything. That four speed was made of crunchy granola, getting it into reverse was only something myself and my brother could accomplish, all others (including my oldest brother and my mom) failed to engage and just ground the gears down a little bit more each time they tried. I had to pick up a friend for school in the morning and he lived on a busy truck route; there was no turn-around in his driveway which meant I had to back it out and get my ass moving. Given that this car was as slow as molasses, if I blew a shift or stalled I’d have been a blue greasy spot on the road. I got good at shifting mighty fast and learned not to stall even faster.
        Of course the car was total junk, it broke in new and interesting ways. Inside door handle broke off on a warm day, visors came down at random, interior lighting was a joke when it worked, but rarely did. It overheated on gentle uphill grades. To get into the back seat, the front seats did not fold forward, the actually released from the floor and pivoted up and forward; the very first time we did it, the passenger visor had flopped down and the headrest shattered the tiny non-safety glass visor mirror instantly.
        A friend threw a Nerf football at the open door and it broke the inside door card–like it actually cracked the plastic and left a hole.
        Of course, it was also rear-ended by a full size Dodge pickup, but that wasn’t the end of it. We tied the rear bumper to a tree with a chain, revved it up, dumped the clutch. Ran it hard against the chain and stretched the body *mostly* back to normal.
        It overheated constantly and the final straw was the clutch gave up (after my buttheaded attempts to do a burn out) so we sent it packing. Purchased in 1993 for $700 with 40k miles on it (it was a 1987), it was sold two years after for $400 with 70k miles. It was rusty and crappy, but it was my first and thusly I will always have a soft spot for the piece of junk.

      • 0 avatar
        misha1973

        :) Not when it rains or snows heavily or you have to get home your weekly quantity of beer!:)
        On another note, Yugo is really very good in deep snow, with proper winter tires of course.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Are you kidding? The Excel was a freakin’ Mercedes compared to the Yugo.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I had an early Hyundai Excel. Car was fine but elicited a a strong sense of revulsion in me. Don’t know why. It went fine, was frugal, was red, had a sunroof, etc. The same thing was repeated a few years later when I installed axles in my frined’s Elantra. I drove it about 10 miles home and had the same reaction to it.

      Now understand that I have owned cars that cost from $150 to $25K and several that were worth more b/c of their age and the fact that they were desirable among collectors. I have liked many really, really cheap, ratty cars cars in my time for one reason or another.

      Who knows why we like some cars and dislike others.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    I thought it was the Lexus SC430.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    And to think that Motorweek gave this thing a mostly positive review when it came out!

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Motorweek car of the year used to be a sure sign of a loser. May still be. Go look at the eighties winners, and then look at the rapid depreciation of just about every one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “Our Motorweek test drivers were impressed by the Yugo’s steadfast refusal to catch fire during our test runs. Drivers also praised Yugo’s ability to stay on all fours wheels in moderate cornering, and the ability of windshield to remain fixed in place at speeds over 15 miles per hour.”

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        Yugo sponsored a Indy car. It was white with plain blue YUGO on the side. They were set up like a second class amateur team. Car parked on a tarp, out in the open, 2 mechanics were talking about a party the night before and all the shrimp they ate. Car started last, and dropped out early.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Picked the book up about a year ago for my Kindle, and have to agree with the reviewer completely. A really excellent read, highly informative, historically detailed, and still managing to be entertaining.

    Historically, the Yugo was NOT the worst car ever made. Not by a long shot. Look up “Copper Cooled Chevrolet” from 1921. A car that was so bad that (almost – a few got away) the entire production run was recalled and dumped into Lake Michigan.

    In comparison, the Yugo had a Corolla-esque level of reliability about it.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Hey it’s a very cheap car – a few friends had them – and despite needing a little more low cost maintenance than other more expensive cars – they did their jobs well enough.

      I hate the stereotype that became the Yugo b/c this killed off the idea of cheap and basic transportation in this country. The joke is that the Yugo was better than people said it was. It did need some TLC (repairs, maintenance, etc) but what old fashioned car doesn’t?

      I’ve owned aircooled VWs for decades and its funny how folks will dismiss the Yugo as a mess but laud the old aircooled VWs as diehard cars when they are in some ways about equal.

      My aircooled VWs were reliable but they needed a quick adjustment of the carb from time to time, adjust the brake shoes, adjust the valves, make sure the heater tubes are intact to heat the cabin and to keep from losing excessive cooling air in the summer, etc. I can do all that in less than an hour though so it’s not a big deal. Since it’s a antique car and not a daily driver, it only needs to be done annually.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    Considering USA’s attitude towards communist-bloc countries of the time, it was indeed an achievement that Yugo did come to Northern America. Thanks for the info, Satish.

    And on to the jokes-

    Q: Why do Yugos have rear window defrosters?
    A: To keep your hands warm while you push ’em.

    Q: How do you double the value of a Yugo?
    A: Fill the tank with gas.

    Q: How do you get a Yugo to go 60 mph?
    A: Push it off a cliff.

  • avatar
    Ron

    I evaluated the car for a possible underwriting of Yugo of America. After driving it home, the key broke when trying to unlock the door. I called Yugo and was told to hit the trunk in a certain spot and it would pop open. Then to crawl into the trunk and press against the rear seat, which would fold inwards, permitting me to get into the car. That was just the tip of the iceberg — wiring was inadequate, mechanical parts were flimsy, castings were primitive, bolts were loose, etc. We declined to underwrite the stock, perhaps the only time in history that a Wall Street firm turned down commissions.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    “Some are more equal than others.” I had forgotten that gem. Hadn’t heard it since the wall came down.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I remember in the mid 1990s there was a local ice cream parlor (really just a Dairy Queen by another name – had burgers to soft serve to hand scooped stuff) where one of the long time employees drove a black Yugo. It was fairly immaculate and was a highly trimmed model. I can’t remember a time that our family went there and it wasn’t parked near the kitchen door.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Ouch .

    I remember when the Junkyards were littered with nice shiny Yugos….

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Nico

    I read this last year. It’s a fascinating read for someone interested in the business of cars and/or low cost transportation.

    If you liked this, let me recommend “Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagen Beetle” by Andrea Hiott. This one is a bit more heavy on political history of the Nazi era, but a really, really interesting read.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Sure it was a bit of a joke in the US but the majority of the people who joked about it never drove one.

    And as the author points out in the book, Yugo outlasted some other significant car manufacturers in America, including Fiat (whose 128 – European Car of the Year ca. 1966 – was practically the complete donor for the Yugo), Renault, Peugeot, Rover, etc. Been a while since I read the book but the market entry in terms of numbers sold in first full year was also the second most successful one after the Hyundai Excel – no mean feat.

    The car was completely unsuited to the intended market or the driving styles and requirements of the US customer base. Add on top Malcolm Bricklin, the lack of a well designed and implemented dealer network and spare part supply, and it was bound to all end up in tears.

    Having driven a handful of them over the years, they are much better than their reputation. Basically they drive like the late 1960s FWD Fiats that they derived from, meaning a rev-hungry engine (the early ones without a rev limiter, meaning you can achieve some heroic speeds on long downhill highway sections), a not razor precise but willing chassis, and basically lots of automotive fun potential at extremely legal and safe speeds.

    And back in the home country, where the service network worked as intended, they could be kept running on a shoe-string practically forever – even if they did on occasion break down. Not that people did not switch to something better or more modern, when it became available…

    And there is a final chapter to the story still being written. The Fiat 500L is being produced in the same factory (naturally suitably upgraded), and exported to the US – just like in the old days. And having talked to some employees there, the new days are certainly no less chaotic than the old ones…

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      “The Fiat 500L is being produced in the same factory (naturally suitably upgraded), and exported to the US – just like in the old days. And having talked to some employees there, the new days are certainly no less chaotic than the old ones…”

      I thought one of the nails in the Yugo coffin was that the Yugo factory was bombed by NATO during the civil war. I assume it was rebuilt as well as retooled?

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        That’s pretty much what happened. My understanding is it floundered along after the bombing until 2008 when FIAT bought the plant and renamed it FIAT Automobile Serbia.

      • 0 avatar
        misha1973

        Actually yes. If I remember correctly, two factories don’t even share same land. So, technically, it is not same factory.
        However, Kristian’s right, Yugos (and very similar Zastava 101 and 128) could be run for a long time on shoe-string budget, as long as you had good mechanic and basic mechanical empathy ;).

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      Yugo was touted at the time as a currency play. The strong dollar and the cheap dinar would let price make up for the shortcomings of the car itself. The shortcomings were legion. Fifteen year old design, Commie workmanship, 86 mph top speed were only a few. I drove one for an afternoon, and it just seemed fragile.

      Currency plays in motor vehicles don’t usually work out because of the existence of a used vehicle market. When the Wall went down, the price of 4 year old VW Golfs was made in Moscow by the price of a new Lada, itself a knock off of a Fiat 124.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Yeah, the first time I looked at a 500L, as soon as I opened the door and saw the plate that said it was manufactured in Serbia, that was all I needed to know . . .

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Sure it was a bit of a joke in the US but the majority of the people who joked about it never drove one. ”

      I’ve never jumped off a 100 story building before, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like the sudden stop at the end

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      As I mentioned in another post, I took a job delivering pizzas because the pizza shop maintained a fleet of Yugo delivery cars. The cars weren’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to my clapped out mid-70’s Camaro, it wasn’t horrible.

      Many of the people passing judgement on something they admittedly know nothing about does nothing more than taint their comments in other threads.

  • avatar
    50merc

    OK, so maybe the Yugo wasn’t the most perfect automobile ever made. But what other marque was honored with a 29 car art project that toured more than two dozen US cities?

    http://www.avatar-moving.com/gh_showarticle.asp?hid=6

    My favorite: “The Fireplace”.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    During my abortive (read: money-starved) foray into car sales in the late ’80s, I worked at a VW/Nissan dealer. They tried selling these horrid things. They sat for literally years. Finally, management put out a $1500 bounty to anyone who could sell one, so I tried.

    During my one and only demo, I took the client out in one, and turned on the A/C (it was one of those hang-under-the-dash units like they had in the ’60s), and the thing promptly quit cold on a six lane main traffic artery with a 50 mph speed limit.

    After about a minute of almost being hit by about 100 cars, I got it restarted it and went back to the dealership, where one of my colleagues was demonstrating how sturdy the car was by opening the front door and hanging off it.

    I sold the customer a Sentra.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Yugo sponsored a Indy car. It was white with plain blue YUGO on the side. They were set up like a second class amateur team. Car parked on a tarp, out in the open, 2 mechanics were talking about a party the night before and all the shrimp they ate. Car started last, and dropped out early.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Many years ago a Yugo was on display in a shopping center I was visiting; the seat fabric looked like it was made from Turkish towels, and the overall quality of the interior appointments made the Vega and Pinto look like luxury cars by comparison. However several years ago I was listening to “Car Talk” one Saturday morning and a priest called to talk to Ray and Tom complaining about all the jokes he had to put up with and remarking that after 160,000 miles it had finally given up the ghost. That has to be some kind of record for a Yugo.

    • 0 avatar
      misha1973

      160k wasn’t that special back in ’70-’80, as a quite a few Zastavas (especially those with mid-’70s Fiat engine) reached 300,000km (188,000miles). Rust was biggest issue, so still capable engines had to be scraped when tin worm did its best work on a body of the car they were installed in.
      Personally, in our family we run three Zastava 101 (one apparently reached 350,000km in the hands of its last, fourth owner) and two Yugos. I sold ’97 Yugo 55 (rather bad vintage, I might add…)with 143,485 miles on the clock (it really did have odometer in miles:) ), on its original, although thoroughly reworked engine and its next owner drove it to work about 40km, every day, for next two years. So it could have been close to 166,000 miles when scraped. It was far from reliable, but it did a good job.
      I also have ’90 Yugo 65 (on the contrary, excellent vintage,extra rust-and-water proofing, made of decent steel…). I bought it from first owner in 2010., with only 50k, as runaround car, but it became main light-payload/mild off-road/occassionaly both:) vehicle in our family. So far, it has been perfectly reliable for 25,000 miles (apart from few glitches, mostly related to ever-decreasing quality of available spare parts…), running mostly on LPG.

  • avatar
    montethepoodle

    I test drove one as I had a 73 Fiat 128 sl that was very similar. As I lived in San Francisco, I was tired of my Honda 600 Coupe. The Fiat/Yugo on paper looked good. Seats 4 with front wheel drive and a buzzy high reving engine. Never get above 60 in SF anyway.

    The Yugo was so bad I could not get it in reverse. For 4k I wished it was like the Fiat a great handling economical reliable Fiat. But no go. Got a 87 Chevy Spectrum for 3700 and 10k miles.

  • avatar
    Joss

    That’s what happens when a bunch of academics get involved with something poorly engineered.

    Communism was such an awful system it couldn’t produce any decent consumer products. Tito liked horses not cars. He was an able Nazi killer.

    • 0 avatar
      gnekker

      Tito liked horses not cars….

      Oh, he liked cars very much. He was a machinist by profession, and even worked in Daimler in 1912 as a test driver. Soon after that he was drafted into Austro – Hungarian army and later sent to Russian front during WW1.
      Later when he came into power, he had quite of a collection of luxury cars, Cadilacs, RR’s, Merc 600’s, armoured cars, you name it…
      He had a workshop in his residence on Briuni islands, with turning Lathe and other machines.
      But since he died in 1982, he had no influence to Yugo story…
      Part of his car collection is on display in a technical museum in Slovenia

      • 0 avatar
        misha1973

        He actually died in on 4th May 1980.
        What his profession was will remain unknown to most of us, but machinist certainly wasn’t it!
        He had his pictures taken by lathe and other machines, to appear closer to working public, but realistically nobody had ever seen Tito actually produce something useful on these machines :)
        However, he did have very fine (..and rather expensive !) taste in cars, wine, food, boats, women….;)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Finally, a reason to visit Slovenia.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Then I would suppose you haven’t been on YouTube and watched “Russian Trucks” or “Russian Flybys”.

      Don’t underestimate old Russian technology. The Russians made some really good equipment but like 50s and 60s tech here – it needed alot of maintenance.

      • 0 avatar
        andrewallen

        I live in Africa and know people who wouldn’t recognize a maintenance if it jumped up and bit them on the nose. Their (unmaintained EVER!) AK 47’s worked first time every time, the only stuff that compares is Made in South Africa mining machinery or the earth leakage circuit breaker.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Spot on review Satish. I bought this book when it came out (at a Borders I think–that’s how long ago) and had much the same reaction as you. As bad as they were it took an awful lot of work and dedication to make them that good when they hit the market. This is also the only book that I know of that told the story of IAI–the company that took over importing the Spider and X/19 after Fiat pulled out–and a good history of Malcolm Bricklin. I’d really like to read more about what it was like for those small European importers between the 50’s and 80’s like Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Fiat (Steve Lynch can you help?) because I’m sure there are some great stories just waiting to be told.

    Some of the most interesting car books tend to be about the companies that didn’t make it such as Packard, Auburn, Studebaker, etc.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Btw. the current Fiat Auto Serbia factory is on the same grounds as the original one, partially also in the same buildings. The only thing changed is that you no longer enter via the old entrance (that is currently Zastava Armaments only) but through a new one outside the city centre.

    On another note the suitability to a market is really paramount. Cars you would consider commonplace in the US – say a Camry – have been removed from the European market as in most markets they achieved only a single digit to low two digit annual sales (I think the last year in the UK was 12 pieces). The Accord is following suit by being taken out of the market due to poor sales. So horses for courses…

    • 0 avatar
      misha1973

      Great info – honestly, I really wasn’t sure myself if two factories actually shared exact same geographical location.
      Also, great point about Camry and Accord. No matter how hard I try to find decent second-hand 2nd or 3rd gen Camry in Serbia, they only pop in the ads about once every 2 months and most of them are beaten to the ground…

  • avatar

    The Yugo wasn’t a complete sales failure. They sold about 36,000 cars in 1986 and 49,000 in 1987, at one point becoming the #2 import brand (at least according to one source). That sales success, though, was part of the undoing of the brand as more and more people were disappointed by the crappy quality control.

    Malcolm Bricklin is one of the great characters of the automotive world. I wouldn’t invest a penny in any of his enterprises, but he’s a great story. The truth is, he actually has accomplished some things, maybe not great things, but he did start Subaru in the U.S. (only to be forced out when Fuji figured out with whom they were doing business), did get the Bricklin car into production (but what a clusterfark that project was), and kept the Fiat X/19 alive.

    A hondler and a hustler for sure, but the car world needs characters like Bricklin.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Just after I graduated high school I picked up a job delivery pizza to make gas money to get me back and forth to the technical school I attended. I went the pizza delivery route specifically because the restaurant I worked for had a fleet of Yugo delivery cars. Good or bad is a relative term, and I don’t want compare a Yugo to anything modern, but compared to a clapped out ’75 Camaro they weren’t as awful as some people here write. They sure took a beating from a bunch of late teen/early 20’s delivery drivers who could invariably find some dirt road between the pizza shop and their delivery.

    When Yugo the company fell apart, the pizza shop owner started replacing the Yugos with Ford Festivas. Not nearly as much fun to abuse.

    • 0 avatar
      misha1973

      Problem with Yugos is that people don’t take them seriously and just abuse them, with only basic maintenance. And when cars start to show their nasty side,they complain about them!
      Drive almost any car like a maniac or skip maintenance and you’ll end up in trouble, although in some you may feel more comfortable or have more fun :)

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        BINGO! You said it perfectly!

        I keep cars forever (300K+ miles) and friends around me can’t make them last past 150K miles.

        A few friends figured it was b/c of the brands I chose – and that figures into it a little. The rest of it is treating the machine with reasonable care and doing the maintenance with decent parts and supplies.

        A couple have gotten pretty frustrated when the tried to ape my purchase plan only to have their cars break down b/c they treat them too roughly. Why do I get good service and they don’t. Well they say, they must have bought a lemon. Yeah right. If I drive their car it’s clear – they’ve run it through all the potholes, slammed the doors so hard they rattle, left broken stuff stay broken until it broke something else, duct tape repairs, etc.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Every time I read about how Malcolm Bricklin was good at raising large sums of cash, I wonder what might have happened if he had hooked up with John DeLorean just as the DMC-12 was coming to market.

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