At the end of the alphabet: the Zastava Yugo

Zastava Yugo
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For 1988, Zastava had joined Het Milieu: The Zastava 45A and the Zastava 55A were fitted with a catalyst. But the normal 55 disappeared, just like the 65GTL (a Fiat with the back of the Simca 1100). And then there was the Zastava Yugo. And that was a car of which the most horrific stories soon spread.

A success in the States

It was striking that the Zastava Yugo was also the first serious Yugoslav product to reach the American market. In the States, the Zastava Yugo 45 was one of the most successful compact European import cars there. Shortly after purchase, however, almost 60.000 American consumers almost unanimously agreed that a car had rarely or never been produced that had more defects and had as little resistance to normal use as Zastava from 'Yugoslavia'.

Your own model

First, Zastava built FIATS under license. In 1979, a former license builder introduced a kind of his own design for the first time. The Yugo 45. It was technically based on the popular Fiat 127, but had a much more angular body and a somewhat shorter wheelbase. Because of the design, you had a fair amount of space in it for four people and the car had a decent road holding due to the chosen construction.

And he looked a bit like an Autobiancchi. That was a plus. With an engine of only 903cc, the Zastava Yugo came to 45 hp and a pretty impressive top of 130 km / h. You had to switch considerably to achieve that performance, and then the fuel consumption was quite often just as impressive an 1 on 10. There were also 1300 cc Yugos.

A favorite holiday destination

The Zastava Yugo naturally came from the then favorite Eastern bloc holiday country Yugoslavia. That alone made him kindly received here. But it was also concluded in the Dutch press that the little car of not too good parts was crafted together. The motivation to make a good product was not really among the Communist Party members. The poor finish was immediately apparent by the sloppy way in which hinges and locks were mounted.

The build quality and general state of affairs at such a Yugootje was miles away from what Western consumers now had as a standard. The design of the interior was not only dated, but the seating comfort was symbolic and the ease of use was also clearly an 1.0 version.

The press saw it gloomy

All in all, there was little outside the price that spoke in favor of such a Zastava Yugo. The chance of major sales successes in The West was therefore rightly estimated to be low. The only selling point of the Zastava Yugo was the purchase price. The fact that the car immediately after purchase had about a trade-in / resale value of around zero level that advantage again seriously.

The serious advice expressed by the various national and international car magazines was therefore clear: Buy a used car from a real brand. Even if it was considered that the Zastava Yugo in 1988 had a sports steering wheel, three-point seat belts for the front occupants, a removable hat patch, a sun visor with a make-up mirror and a gas tank lock. Plus rack and pinion steering, front disc brakes and a windscreen wiper on the rear window.

In the meantime, we are thirty years later

And now there are Zastava Yugo enthusiasts because the cart is now appreciated for its Eastern Bloc nostalgia and its 100 percent lethality factor. But that it suddenly gave them value? Well neuh…

Automobilia 2022 (copy)
And whether the criminals were happy with that? Yes!



Give a reaction
  1. Ehhh, the 65GTL the front and center of a Fiat 127? I think it was a Fiat 128 up to the back, and yes, there was some sort of Simca 1100 butt on it.

  2. Dear Steven, I didn't just ride it, I had one :-) Plus an FSO and a Lada. And I've been driving Russian sidecar combinations for 25+ years. I have always had a soft spot for the products from the ex Eastern bloc. But I have also always understood that there are people who found them completely below par by Western standards. And who cares if your beloved Yugo and my Ural have been voted 'worst of all time' in various magazines / sites in all countries in the world? It's about our pleasure. And if your Yugo - again with all due respect - still looks a little tidy? Then I would like to make an appointment with you for a story AutoMotorKlassiek about it.

    • Dear Rolf, I always enjoy reading your articles, but I wasn't completely biased about this, do I have some blind spots somewhere? I have a weakness for the "underdog" in terms of cars and unique (because they are now in the Netherlands) is also an advantage in my opinion. I would like to tell you more about my bright orange Zastava Jugo45A for an article.

  3. What a superfluous article, the author must have never driven in it .. I myself have a Yugo 45A with 903 cc engine. The engine is in any case known as reliable and there is nothing wrong with the hinges and locks. The car is cleverly and conveniently arranged and everything is easy to dismantle and assemble. In the United States, you were simply not familiar with Italian technology that you simply have to maintain. As with all Fiat engines of this type but also others, for example, you had to replace the timing belt at every 30k kilometer (costs practically nothing), if you didn't do that, then it was the end of the exercise. It was considered a disposable item, also because of the price (ashtray full? Gone with it) Furthermore, disc brakes and all other things that are mentioned as after 1988 also in mine (year 1983). Tens of thousands are still driving around in the whole of former Jugoslavia, you see them everywhere, so they hold on for a long time, even though they were never meant for that.

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