'It Looks Like The People Who Made The Yugo Really Put Effort Into It'

I have a story coming out early next week about a car with a surprising tie to Yugo, the infamous hatchback built in Serbia by Zastava and imported to the U.S. by entrepreneur and madman Malcolm Bricklin. Until then, here's MotorWeek's 1986 take on the car.


I'm not sure who John Davis' co-host Joyce is, but she seems impressed with the Yugo's inclusion of both carpeting and a tool kit. She is MotorWeek through and through, however, as we can tell from her aggressive shifting style.

Back in 1986, a Yugo would only put you out about $10,000 in today's currency, which helps explain why it sold so well initially and was hailed at first as the successor to the original Volkswagen Beetle. It's not remembered all that well today, so we can assume Joyce was off in her assessment of the car's initial quality.

Joyce does have some great news about the Alfa Romeo Milano, though! When does that come out? I want one!

MotorWeek Theater is our showcase of some of our favorite classic reviews from public television's finest motoring program. How does this video only have 27,766 views on YouTube? Why don't YUGO watch it some more!



Nothing wrong with the Yugo. Mechanically it was a Fiat 128, which was bulletproof enough for the Russians to copy and a fun driver. Build quality was what you'd expect for 4 grand. They got a bad rep because few owners bothered to change or even check the oil, so they went to an early grave.

I bought a new one in '88 and drove it and a succession of others (25 in all. Once people see you in one word gets around and I amassed quite a collection of usually running $100 Yugos). With basic care they'd last 100,000 miles, and with a little hot-rodding (2-inch exhaust) would hit 115 mph. I did 200 miles in 2 hours in a Yugo, getting 25 mpg.

I also owned one of the rare (72, 75 or 85 built, depending on who you ask) Cabrios. Really scary body structure in spite of the reinforcement. The Cabrio was a 1990-only model made from leftover '88 or '89 models, so it didn't have EFI.

The worst thing about them was the tires. Absolute garbage.

More misc. Yugo tidbits: Opening vent windows were only for '86. The dealer-installed AC did a wonderful job of chilling your right knee. By 1990 the Yugo got Bosch EFI, a 1300 cc engine and 5 speeds. They also introduced a 3-speed automatic made by Renault. Not many were made, fewer were sold.

Overall, it was cheap and cheerful.