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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Milestones in Automotive History: Yugo GVX

Feel the power of the Yugo GVX!

Yugo introduced its unreliable, underpowered, hopelessly antiquated GV hatchback in 1986 to worldwide jeering and derision; a level of scorn that only grew as people became more familiar with the intrinsic problems with an ancient FIAT design assembled with all the meticulous disregard and thorough apathy of Yugoslavia's Zastava auto group.

The GV's carbureted, 61-horsepower four-cylinder engine, its antediluvian suspension desion, and four-speed manual transmission were part of the problem. The remainder of the car constituted the rest of the problem.

In response to the deafening lack of demand for a performance variant of the GV came the GVX - a hot-rod Yugo that in thoroughly failing to meet even the dimmest expectations became a Milestone in Automotive History.

The extensive revision and customization process added alloy wheels, a stripe of metallic paint along the bottom of the side rocker panels, a sport steering wheel, and a dizzying array of engine revisions that boosted available power from 61 horsepower to, well, 61 horsepower. These modifications had all the enhancing effect one would expect from spraying Lysol into a vat of raw sewage.

According to Kelly Blue Book, a 1987 Yugo GVX with 180,000 miles and in "Fair" condition (an iffy proposition since most Yugos didn't leave the factory in "Fair" condition) is now worth $400.

One quasi-enthusiast has set up a hilarious page in which he claims his Yugo GVX "ownz joo."

Yugo eventually withdrew from the U.S. market in the early 1990s due to both poor sales and, according to one site, the fact that the EPA was on the verge of forcing Yugo to recall every car sold for failing to meet emissions standards.

What has been so far left unsaid in this sordid tale is that part of me thinks the Yugo is actually not a terrible looking car.

This modified Yugo GVX "ownz joo."


Blogger mrclm said...

Yugo story:

My Junior year in High School, our Football coach drove a red Yugo. Our final day of double practices before the season started we decided to pull a little prank on him. A group of us picked his car up from the parking lot, carried it around the locker room building, and placed it at the 50 yard line in the middle of the field. He had been in the building and had no clue until we went out to warm ups that something was amiss. We were all on the field ready for stretching, with the car nicely placed behind us when he came out. The grounds keepers weren't all that happy with us, but it was worth it to see the look on his face.

3:46 PM

Blogger Jim Holland said...

I believe the most important feature of the later model Yugo's might have been the rear-window defroster, which according to NPR's Click and Clack, was to help keep your hands warm while you pushed the car.

And I still remember the bumper sticker on a Yugo most often seen parked in Chadron, Neb.
"I go where I'm towed"

6:46 PM

Anonymous Pooze Bustamonte said...

Long live Milestones in Automotive History!

3:47 PM


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