I can’t remember how long it’s been since I saw a Yugo. Obviously it was before I started curbsiding in 2009, and given Eugene being what it is, there must have been some around not too far before that date. And this shot by Curtis Perry may be from a few years back too. But it’s time we gave the Yugo a bit of love here.
Jeff Nelson didn’t find much love for it when he wrote the definitive CC article on it here. There’s no question that the whole Yugo experience in the US was a troubled one, and undoubtedly much of that can be blamed on its importer/huckster Malcolm Bricklin. He created expectations that weren’t realistic, and the little Fiat derivative was hampered in its efforts to meet US emission and other standards.
From what I’ve learned over the years, like so many Fiats, it’s actually a much tougher little car than the rep it got. Owners who got to know them and fix them became quite fond of them, and they actually developed a bit of a cult following. But obviously, that’s not what most buyers expecting a cheaper Corolla experienced. Oh well. Malcolm Bricklin’s miserable track record needed burnishing, and the Yugo gave him that opportunity.