Officially called the Zastava Koral (AKA The Yugo) was the people’s car of the former Yugoslavia, which of course slid into history some time ago, much like the Yugo, as of November 20, 2008.
Believe it or not, the Zastava plant in Serbian town of Kragujevac shipped the Yugo to over 70 countries including the likes of India, Colombia, Sudan, Egypt and the United States, who alone bought 141,000 of them. You know why?
You could buy one brand new for $3,990 and get a 10-year/100,000 mile warranty and free maintenance, too good to be true, you say.
You’re absolutely right, Car & Driver magazine called it “The Disposable car by Bic” while a Consumer Reports review wrote that it “barely qualified as a car”. The US based National Public Radio weekly program "Car Talk" was not so kind, it voted the Yugo as “the worst car of the millennium”
I did hear of some horror maintenance stories such as, when a buyer’s window wouldn’t work properly, he took the Yugo to the factory to have it repaired and got it back minus the entire door panel, with a note on the seat saying “if they paid me more I would have finished the job”.
And there was a common saying in Serbia, which said, “If you want to double the value of your Yugo, fill it up with petrol”
But ask the punters across Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia and they’ll probably all agree that the Yugo will be sadly missed. They’ll also tell you its famous too, and there would be some truth in that.
Yugo-mania also swept through Hollywood for a time and was the star car in movies such as The Birdcage, Drowning Mona, Die Hard 3, The Crow, Inspector Gadget and 101 Dalmatians.
Engines for the Yugo ranged from 45bhp (34kW) to “large capacity” 65bhp (48kW) but weighed just 825 kilograms. The most successful models were produced from 1981-2008 and were built on a Fiat 128 Platform with Zastava design input.
The good news is – if you can call it that is Fiat has gone into business with the Serbian government and will set up a joint venture to build several models at the Zastava car plant.
Best you check where your Fiat is built and how much the workers are being paid before handing over your hard earned cash.