When Great Value Comes Short
Why does a Yugo have a rear window defroster?
Answer: To keep your hands warm as you push it.
It isn't a good sign when a car becomes an inspiration for jokes. At the time of its release, the Yugo GV (meaning Great Value) hit the American car market like a storm. However, the spark wouldn't last long as unfortunate events and circumstances ended the make's stint in the country.
A man named Miroslav Kefurt was one of the people responsible for bringing the car to America after noticing the country's market for small, economical cars. He chose Yugo because he knew the cars were basically rebadged Fiats ? a respectable Italian manufacturer. Using his European connections, he was able to import and promote the first Yugo cars.
His sales pitch: the cars' price tag and practicality. At around $ 4,000, the GV had a big price advantage compared to other cars that were about $1,000 more expensive. The car's simplicity was designed to be a straightforward commuter. This was in contrast to the trends of cars that time where style trumped function. This was the "People's car" of America, just like the Volkswagen Beetle of Germany. With a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty, everyone was hooked. Units drove out of showrooms by the thousands!
Unfortunately, the Yugo was just too good to be true. As people drove their GVs, problems began to appear. Among these, break-downs were 2nd nature to the car. The engine was so bad that it didn't even pass emission tests. The electrical components of the car were faulty, from the lights, to the power windows. Even the interior was as bare as it could be. Brochures saying carpets were a feature should have been a giveaway.
Yugo gave the market unmet expectations. America learned the hard truth of getting what you pay for. A car that cheap had to have funny strings attached to it. The Yugo "bubble" popped in an instant. Sales dropped, units were being discarded and forgotten.
The inevitable end came in the early 90s as Yugo choked its supply. Today, Yugo is mostly remembered as one of the
worst cars of all time, along other infamous cars such as the Edsel, Pinto, and Corvair. The car was so bad it has given birth to many jokes ? just like the one at the beginning.
There are still small patches of hope for Yugo. Clubs around the world pay tribute by repairing and maintaining the few units that escaped the scrap yard. Efforts such as these make Yugo a rare collector's item ?maybe mostly because it still works.