During the summer of 1985 the Yugo went on sale as the cheapest car sold in the USA. With a base price of $3990, it was thousands cheaper than the next car up. Standard equipment included fabric upholstery, full carpeting, reclining front seats, folding rear seat, rear window wiper/washer, opening rear quarter windows, rear window electric defroster, low fuel warning light, cigarette lighter, locking gas cap, and a full size spare tire. There were few options such as air conditioning, stereos, floor mats, wheel covers, and roof racks.
As soon as it was announced that the Yugo would go on sale, people stormed the 90 Yugo dealerships, and put down deposits on the cars. They did this before even seeing the cars, much less driving them. By the time 1500 cars had arrived dealers had orders for 5 times that amount. First year sales fell well below what was predicted, but rose in the second year. Auto critics tended to laugh at the Yugo, and branded it more of a toy than a car. They also pointed out a series of flaws, and as it happens many of the flaws were valid. Many owners complained of mechanical problems including premature engine failure, bad brakes, poor shifter and transmission, and faulty electrical systems, and terrible dealer service. The insurance industry faulted the cars crash worthiness, which didn't help matters.
In early 1989 Yugo America went bankrupt, which threatened to remove the Yugo from the USA. No 1989 models were imported, so dealers sold leftover 1988 models. Reorganization brought Yugo America back to life, but it faced a major battle to repair it's poor image. A revived Yugo GV Plus with fuel injection was introduced in 1990, along with the long awaited Yugo Cabrio. The Cabrio was priced twice as high as the hatchback, and offered an electric folding top, heated glass rear window, automatic folding quarter windows, and an aerodynamic body kit, which included fog lamps. The first shipment of Cabrios were not fuel injected though. Following it's bankruptsy, Yugo America became a subsidary of Zastava, rather than a seperate organization.
The 1991 models were the last to be imported, they came with larger fuel tanks, better seats, a better steering wheel angle, and automatic transmissions. Previously, all Yugos came with a manual transmission. Sales of the Yugo slipped to a minimum before the company closed it's doors for good. Americans don't likes the tiny hatchbacks, like this. It was economical, but weak and not as comfortable and not as equipped compared to the average american cars.
Rob Yunker USA
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