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24.03.2015
Those include the three-wheeled Messerschmitt that had a handle bar in place of a steering wheel and started with a pull cord, like a lawnmower. We have all seen those hideous cars on the road, now it's time to vote and determine the ugliest of all. And just when you thought there couldn't possibly be anyone on the planet who thought the Pontiac Aztec was attractive. In 1985, just nine months before the Yugo came to America, Yugo America CEO Malcolm Bricklin and second in command Tony Ciminera toured the Zastava plant in Kragujevac, Yugoslavia.
Workers would take brand new body panels they'd just finished stamping and toss them onto a pile.
Jason Vuic's new book The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History (Amazon link) isn't so much about the actual car, but rather the never ending blunders, unmerited chutzpah and collective cluelessness of the people behind the eternally-doomed sub-compact.
Even if you have no interest in the Yugo, or even no interest in cars, Vuic's book is a must read. Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Choose up to 3 vehicles to compare side-by-side on price, features, performance, cost of ownership and more. Subaru comes along and makes this shockingly similar piece of crap with a spaceship sounding name.
This is where the Yugo 45, the crazy-cheap car Americans would come to know, love and then loathe, would be built and rebadged as the Yugo GV (Bricklin intended GV to stand for "great value," but he never bothered paying the ad firm to spread the word).
Vuic felt compelled to write the book after a New York artist was able to purchase 39 Yugos for $92 a pop – in the mid-90s! Despite a Michigan congressman publicly accusing the communist Zastava plant of using slave labor (they didn't), despite the Zastava workers drinking plum brandy from 6:00 am to 1:00 am (they did), despite all the me, me, me! Not only is every page filled with laughter (did you know Bricklin started a go-cart franchise featuring Subaru 360s?), but Vuic actually starts each chapter with a Yugo joke (Q: What do you call a Yugo with brakes?
Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination. The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History is Vuic's book on the tiny, no-frills, breakdown-prone automobile imported from communist Yugoslavia in the 1980s that is better known today as a punchline than a piece of machinery that might (or might not) take you from point A to point Y. He jumps from business to business to business and has had some spectacular entrepreneurial successes, but some equally spectacular failures." When Bricklin introduced the Yugo to American audiences, it may have looked like a good time to bring the product to these shores. Bricklin, of course, failed to see the problem and told Ciminera just to fax the Zastava workers a list of changes needed when the two of them returned to the U.S.
Front and center sits the amazing, seemingly unstopable Malcom Bricklin, a man willing to hop in bed with communists, socialists, repressive dictators and Henry Kissinger (all factor into the Yugo's story) to make a quick buck. This is why Malcolm Bricklin is not only very different from you and I, but any other entrepreneur in history. Vuic spills a good deal of ink explaining what he calls, "Yugomania," an almost mindless acceptance of the Yugo as a good car for a great price.
Vuic notes that Yugoslavia had been one of three communist countries not to boycott the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and it was greeted warmly by the American crowds. Vuic says that designation might be traceable back to an assessment from Consumer Reports, just a few months after the the Yugo was introduced to America, recommending that consumers purchase a used car rather than a brand new Yugo.
O'Callaghan is a master of "3-D illustration," and teaches a course on the subject at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Americans were lining up ten deep for the brand new $3,990 Yugoslavian cars, which were in reality shoddily made, decade and a half old Fiats.
Then fate steps in and starting with a brutal review by Consumer Reports ("You're better off buying a good used car than a new Yugo"), some misinformation from the NHTSA about the Yugo's 35 mph collision results, Bricklin's pyramid-scheming ways (why pay for national advertisements when you can buy a several hundred acre ranch in Colorado with your company's credit line?) and even the S&L junk bond scandal all eventually conspire to bring the Yugo down.


Readers are left clamoring for more Malcolm (after Yugo, he proceeds to found three more companies that go belly up). Also, a little more information about the car, specifically how the cars failed, would have been nice.
Between 1984 and 1992, Americans bought 150,000 Yugos a€” at $3,990, it was far and away the cheapest car on the market. Ding!," O'Callaghan gave each student a vintage typewriter and asked the class "to reinterpret" the machine in a different way. Vuic points out that as of 1999 there was only one Yugo registered in the State of Florida. Though it should be pointed out that Yugo might be the most exhaustively researched 213 page book ever written. We'll limit the number of cars we bring to America.' But what the Japanese did, very smartly, was instead of selling spartan Civics and Tercels, they went upscale.
But he said the engine was a tried-and-true Fiat engine that people had used for years and years in Europe and also the United States.
There was a gumball machine, a meat slicer, a Kleenex dispenser, an aquarium, a blender, a shoe-shine kit, a snow globe, a pay phone, even a Corona-matic-cum- waffl e iron that made keyboard-shaped waffl es. He just said it wasn't put together very well." Yugo America went bankrupt in 1992, a victim of the car's bad reputation and poor business practices a€” for five or six years in a row, Yugo sold the same model to Americans who expect new models every year a€” but also, Vuic says, because just as sales took a dive, Yugoslavia started to fall apart. O'Callaghan's other student shows have included chairs, beds, clocks, carousels, chessboards, and versions of the famed "Moon Man" from MTV. Right when they left the market, the Yugo was the only game in town." A Bad Car Yugos were built in an old munitions plant in Serbia. When Bricklin arrived at the plant to view the manufacturing process, he was taken aback by what he saw. They actually had a machine with chains that actually would whip across the floor to take all the oil and scum off the floors," Vuic says. One of the men who went with Bricklin actually saw freshly painted doors coming down the conveyor belt, or fenders if I remember, with dents on them.
He placed an ad in several New York newspapers under the caption "Yugos Wanted Dead or Alive." He received seventy-nine calls in three days, and bought thirty-nine relatively un-dented Yugos for $92 apiece. The first Yugos that they viewed, they found rust in the trunk." Bricklin saw the workers taking shots of plum brandy during their breaks, smoking on the assembly line and stepping from dirty floors directly into newly assembled cars. But Vuic says Yugo's biggest problem was that the company failed to observe many standard quality control practices a€” "which meant that the Yugo was never catastrophically bad.
It just had a huge number of quality issues that added up to a bad car." Bricklin gave Yugo's manufacturers a 400 item-long list of changes that would need to be made to the cars, and to the company's credit, Vuic says, it actually made the improvements. There was also a Yugo accordion, a Yugo subway car, photo booth, toaster, telephone, diner, shower, movie theater, and a cozy Yugo fi replace complete with a deer head.
There was a Yugo barbecue, a Yugo confessional, and a Yugo port-a-potty with the license plate GOT2GO. Vuic says of the 150,000 sold in America, fewer than 1,000 are now in working order a€” which makes riding in one today an opportunity not to be passed up. In May 1995, literally thousands of people took in the exhibit, which then traveled to more than twenty cities, including Montreal.
It was featured on NPR, CNN, NBC, CBS, and in newspaper and TV reports from as far away as Croatia. Every day we're amazed [at] how many people have heard of it." "Squeezing Lemons to Make Art," read a Washington Post headline. In all, several dozen newspapers and magazines reviewed the exhibit, giving it high praise for its creativity, sense of humor, and optimism.


Even today, a simple Google search of the terms "Yugo" and "worst car" receives more than twenty thousand hits.
In 2000, listeners of the popular National Public Radio program Car Talk voted the Yugo "the Worst Car of the Millennium." According to Yahoo! In 2008, readers of the AAA magazine Via ranked the Yugo the worst car ever and a 2007 Hagerty Insurance poll declared the Yugo the second ugliest car in history. The Yugo appears in Eric Peters's book Automotive Atrocities, in Craig Cheetham's book The World's Worst Cars, and in Giles Chapman's book The Worst Cars Ever Sold. After his speech [he] returned to the airport in [a] presidential limo [named] Yugo One." Singers sing songs about it.
One would think that such an iconic automobile would have a story behind it, a tale, but what most Americans know are the jokes: How do you make a Yugo go faster? Or that when the Yugo went on sale in America, there were lines at some dealerships ten deep.
Or that Chrysler once offered to buy the company, or that its CEO, Malcolm Bricklin, was the first person to bring Subaru to the United States.
What Americans do know is that the Yugo was bad, really bad, but relatively few people have ever seen one.
It was cheap, poorly built, somewhat unsafe in a crash, prone to breakdowns, and dirty emissions-wise, and for such a small automobile its gas mileage was poor. Power and Associates consumer satisfaction survey, and in a series of 5-mile-per-hour crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it sustained a whopping $2,197 in damage, more than twenty-three other cars. In 1987 it topped both the Massachusetts and New York state Lemon Indexes, and in 1988, in the midst of a Motor Trend magazine road test, the Yugo GVX broke down. The Yugo was also last in a North Carolina emissions test and last in a Car Book survey of resale values, and in a report published by the IIHS the Yugo had the eighth highest death rate of any 1984a€“88 model-year automobile on the highway between 1985 and 1989. Not necessarily a good car or a reliable car, but one that has met certain basic, presale standards that are among the toughest in the world.
Said one Peugeot executive, whose company left America in 1991, "There were considerable changes [we had to comply with]. Emissions systems, injection equipment, [and] on-board diagnostics are all different on U.S. Thus, there's a reason why Russian Ladas and Samaras aren't sold here, or why Indian Tatas or Malaysian Protons or Chinese Dongfengs haven't captured the American market (though, in the case of Chinese cars, this may indeed happen). It had forward-opening "suicide doors," burned a quart of outboard motor oil every 260 miles, and had front and rear bumpers that were several inches lower than those of any car on the road.
Consumer Reports rated it "not acceptable." Then there was the super-mini BMW Isetta, which in the 1950s was banned from California's freeway system for being too small and too slow, and the three-wheeled Messerschmitt (yes, of German Luftwaffe fame), which sat two passengers in tandem, had a handlebar instead of a steering wheel, had no reverse gear, and started with a pull chord. The car was based on the Fiat 127 and the Fiat 128, both utilitarian subcompacts conceived in the 1960s. It had no radio, no air-conditioning, no air bags, and no tachometer; its windows were hand cranked, of course, and it lacked even a glove compartment. Though a dull little car built in communist Yugoslavia, the Yugo was a hit a€” no, a mania, something the Associated Press called a "Yugo-mania." It didn't last. It is the sad, sometimes funny, and altogether fascinating tale of how entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin brought the Yugo to the United States.



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