The Yugo has been called a punchline. The worst car in history. Even a whale. But one thing that was no joke at all was its price – just $3,990 when it went on sale in 1987. In 2013 dollars, that's only $8202.89. Holy crap that's cheap.
Even the Mitsubishi Mirage, which is damn cheap at $12,995, doesn't come close to that. And we used superlatives like "bargain-bin," "leather-like," and "muppet" for it.
This ad is great in that it makes no bones about what you're getting. Unlike most car ads, which have long lists of features, performance figures, even some MPG numbers, the Yugo does away with all of that. Features? Ain't got any. Performance figures? What's that. MPG? I'm sure there are some.
But the Yugo's one selling point was that if you were in the goddamn poor house because Ronald Reagan, or something, you could at least afford a Yugo.
Consider the list of people offered who could afford a Yugo, who can afford nothing today because America:
- Poor students
- Poor couples
- Poor people like us who want a second car just to say they have a second car, no matter what that second car actually is
- Poor kids who have been forced to appear on national television in red suspenders and a matching bowtie
Basically, only the tragic and the unfortunate of the 1980s (and the "middle class" of today). It was Morning in America once again, and the Yugo was going to take us forward into the bright new dawn.
And because it was Morning in America, and the Yugo was made in communist Yugoslavia, it was a total sales flop. And forgive me if my basic economic principles are off, but when you're selling something based on volume, you usually want it to sell in big numbers.
Today the Yugo is a bit of a quirky novelty, something that's actually quite rare. When you see one, it's more funny than anything else.
But funny is what you'd expect from a car that even the guy who wrote the book on it tells jokes like "Yo mama drives a Yugo."
But that cheapness is no punchline.