1989 Yugo GVL Long-Term Road Test Introduction | Edmunds

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,137
edited July 2015 in Yugo
image1989 Yugo GVL Long-Term Road Test Introduction | Edmunds

We bought a 1989 Yugo GVL in Boise. Our mission? Drive it home to L.A., or possibly die trying. Join us for an unforgettable trip in one of the worst modern cars ever made.

Read the full story here


  • reminderreminder Member Posts: 383
    I'm sure it will cost less to run than that 12 cylinder Benz you sent down the road.
  • stovebolterstovebolter Member Posts: 53
    This is instantly my favorite LT test car ever. This is brilliance in action! In all seriousness, I'm terribly jealous of your opportunity to run this one out!
  • roar02ramroar02ram Member Posts: 12
    Excellent writeup of what sounds like riotous fun. Can't wait to read more on this one!
  • zotzzotz Member Posts: 4
    "Its compliance over obstacles like train tracks and big dips in gravel turnouts is astonishing"

    Indeed. This sounds much like the '79 Fiat Strada I owned for a few years past high school. Yes, I admit that.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    Love it. I am guessing it is fuel filter replacement time, after all you were warned. Do it yourself.

    I would guess it is also time to pull the gas tank and inspect for rust and perhaps coat it with tank sealer or (if you can find one) replace it.
  • cygnus_x1cygnus_x1 Member Posts: 11
    edited July 2015
    I test drove one of those when they were new and I couldn't imagine why anyone would buy one, even at that low price. I ended up buying a used Accord which I'm sure was a much smarter choice.
    BTW, you guys should get a bravery medal for driving that thing on the 405.
  • zoomzoomnzoomzoomn Member Posts: 143
    Lolololol!!! I had a friend from high school that bought one of these new. First clutch at 500 miles. Second clutch and major bits of the car starting to fall off by 2000 miles. He couldn't give it away at 3000 miles! It turns out that the original list price was only $4569 too much. :)
  • throwbackthrowback Member Posts: 445
    I remember driving my friends then new Yugo back in the day. I can't decide if the Yugo or Hyundai Excel was the worse car I have ever driven. This long term test should be fun... for us readers.
  • iamthestigiamthestig Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 85
    This is great! I'm looking forward to reading about it over the next year...
  • kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Member Posts: 863
    LOL! Awesome. I'm repeating myself, but it needs to be said. You NEED to DRIVE this car. Don't park it next to the Miata (remember her) and let her sit there for months. I want to know what its like to put miles on a Yugo. Keep the reports coming in.
  • s197gts197gt Member Posts: 486
    a few months ago i saw an 80's dodge omni driving down the road. it actually looked to be in decent condition. make me smile to see an old car like that beating the odds. it just shouldn't be running and yet there it is. gives me hope for me in old age.
  • 500rwhp500rwhp Member Posts: 99
    I'm pretty certain you guys have lost your minds.
  • scottnsc2scottnsc2 Member Posts: 29
    edited July 2015
    I had a friend in college who had a blue Yugo and once in a while he'd drive it on the sidewalk between the dorm and campus. When I asked him why he simply said, "Dude, because I can..."
  • ducky10ducky10 Member Posts: 27
    Kicked tires at a Yugo lot in Idaho in the late 80s. Maybe your Serbian Blur was there ?
  • seppoboyseppoboy Member Posts: 93
    I once owned a 1972 Fiat 128, it was great fun to drive but terrible to own given the ludicrous Fiat quality standards. It really rode well on bad pavement, great steering, amazing room for its size, and the 1116cc engine just sang its little heart out. Fiat 128's cheaper downsized model 127 was the basis for the Yugo, which was produced haphazardly even by Fiat standards by their Serbian hillbilly cousins, so to speak, and poor Yugo never got to even Fiat's pathetic standards of reliability and durability. It's amazing this one survived, though I still see the odd Yugo from time to time. This should be a fun test, thanks for undertaking this particular adventure!
  • hank39hank39 Tallahassee, FLMember Posts: 144

    This is great! I'm looking forward to reading about it over the next year...

    You mean the next few weeks or few months? Sorry couldn't resist.

  • gofortheneckgofortheneck Member Posts: 42
    Of course it's a real car. Fiats of that era were wonderful to drive (until a belt under the hood snaps).
  • ek900ek900 Member Posts: 39
    throwback said:

    I remember driving my friends then new Yugo back in the day. I can't decide if the Yugo or Hyundai Excel was the worse car I have ever driven. This long term test should be fun... for us readers.

    No way the Excel deserves that comparison. I had an 87 Excel. Terrible fit and finish, but very strong mechanically, with a stout Mitsubishi sourced engine/trans. Excels tended to rust fast and look bad, but a lot of them lasted forever...there are a ton more of them running around today than these Yugos.
  • farvyfarvy Member Posts: 34
    So let's see. Your two latest long term cars are a Dodge Viper & a.....Yugo! Can't get more different than that. This should be fun. On a side note, I've had some of that sljivovica that I got from my Czech grandfather. Worst tasting stuff ever. Back in college, drank a small bottle of it with a Coca Cola chaser with two friends on a side street in Flint, Mi. We all have horrid memories of it.
  • bhysjulienbhysjulien Member Posts: 5
    I was missing Clarkson, Hammond and May...then I read this. Well done.
  • diigiidiigii Member Posts: 156
    I was laughing by the time I read they were doing 77mph, then 86 mph and 91 mph on a downhill stretch. The tires and brake job are worth the investment! LOL
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Member Posts: 1,798
    Your Yugo needs a Trabant as a companion. :-)
  • cbrandicbrandi Member Posts: 21
    One summer I drove from NYC to Kansas City in a 1961 Saab 96 (3 cylinder, 2 cycle, 750cc engine making 40hp, 3 speed column shifter, top speed 68mph, but speedometer didn't work). What an adventure. Thank god I was young and could handle the suffering that trip imposed.

    Speaking of Fiat engines, I once owned a Fiat Regatta 100S, 1600cc, 100hp, AC. Over two years that car covered 30,000 miles traveling from Sicily to Normandy and all over Europe. It cruised at 100mph, hauled 4 with luggage up the Alps, and never missed a beat. A Bullet proof car.
  • misterfusionmisterfusion Member Posts: 471
    Love this article, you guys really had me rooting for the Yugo. Maybe this "penalty car" should go to whoever stopped posting about the Miata. :P

    Fun fact: My 2014 FIAT 500L was built at the same plant where this Yugo was assembled. The plant is now wholly-owned by FIAT and is one of the most state-of-the-art production facilities in Europe: http://www.fiat.com/news/fiat-serbia-award

    It's early days still, so I can't speak to long-term reliability; but I can say that the assembly of my car is excellent, and the ride & handling are as solid as you can get in this class.
  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    Really fun account and I dig the high key photos.
  • handbrakehandbrake Member Posts: 99
    I continue to have my money on the Yugo outlasting the old Vette in this long term roulette.
  • brooksbellbrooksbell Member Posts: 4
    Should have installed Brembos for track days. But other than that... yeah, I was thinking of Clarkson. You have to wax nostalgic about how your little steed carried the day.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited July 2015
    Once it finally dies, you can make an art car for the lobby - saw this exhibit when it was on display at Grand Central Station years ago:

    Yugo Next (crookedbrains.net)
  • SadButTrueSadButTrue Santa Monica, CAMember Posts: 47
    edited July 2015

    Fun fact: My 2014 FIAT 500L was built at the same plant where this Yugo was assembled. The plant is now wholly-owned by FIAT and is one of the most state-of-the-art production facilities in Europe: http://www.fiat.com/news/fiat-serbia-award

    See photo #52 and caption. Didn't realize it was state-of-the-art these days. Your fellow 500L owners will be relieved to hear it.


  • daharbindaharbin Member Posts: 7
    I miss my old life in Bosnia. I had a 60 horsepower Skoda diesel that would catch up to Yugos like a raptor flying through the mountain passes, and I felt pretty speedy until some guy with a thick neck and an old BMW 5 series blew by all of us. Every trip to the coast had at least one near-death experience on the twisty two lanes through the mountains.
  • lmbvettelmbvette South FloridaMember Posts: 93
    This blog post is glorious. GLORIOUS!!!! This is the best thing I've read on here in quite some time. Well written. I loved the videos. Keep it coming!
    Don't worry about what other people think. Drive what makes you happy.
  • darthbimmerdarthbimmer Member Posts: 606
    A fantastic article, and I look forward to following along with your ownership experience. I must say your first 900 miles are very different from how Consumer Reports described the vehicle. I still remember their review of the Yugo as one of the most amusing bits of journalism I've read. Lines like "This miserable car found potholes our other test vehicles missed" and "Availability of replacement parts is questionable as the country of manufacture is currently undergoing civil war" (paraphrased) were doubly amusing coming from the ordinarily humorless CR.
  • rwatsonrwatson Member Posts: 144
    I love the instrument panel! Like it or hate it, it's almost refreshing to see a car's cluster that looks like a car's cluster. I'm sure it's the only thing about this vehicle I'll appreciate. I did drive one of these back in (maybe?) 1989, doing a small errand for a lady friend who owned it. I swore I'd never drive another one... And I didn't.
  • rcavarettircavaretti Member Posts: 1
    The Yugo copy of the 128 engine had substandard metallurgy compared to the Fiats of the time. A real killer autocross car in the day required fitting of the 1500cc from an X1/9, with the appropriate head work and a pair of 40 DCOEs. Talk about David vs Goliath situations. It would destroy most cars at the event.
  • ralphhightowerralphhightower Member Posts: 11
    Why? Craigslist is probably the only place where one can find a Yugo. I checked Hemmings Motor News and there are no listings.
  • rdollierdollie Member Posts: 16
    edited July 2015
    For kicks I thought I'd check eBay Motors. Act quickly and this baby could be all yours: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Other-Makes-GV-GV-/181787530270?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2a5361941e&item=181787530270

    Didn't find any listings on Autotrader and suspect nobody is going to buy this relic on eBay.
  • serbiancarluvrserbiancarluvr Member Posts: 1
    Your article got posted on one of Serbian newspaper websites. Great one, hope to read more about the little bugger. Yugo was my first car ever to drive and own, so be gentle... :)
    You can also check out Serbian jokes about the car and people driving it. My personal favorite is - why do Yugo drivers go to heaven when they die? Cause they've already been in hell...
  • toshketoshke Member Posts: 1
    Really awesome article. To all yugo owners its really a tribute to their suffering. Not much car could do what that could, but also they all had a lot more to offer. One thing comes to mind when talk of yugo is brought up and it is this clip.

  • the_playerthe_player Member Posts: 1
    Serbian jokes on Yugo:
    Why does a Yugo have rear windshield heaters?! - So that the ones pushing it for jump start wouldn't freeze their hands.
    What's on two last pages of Yugo's owner manual? - Local public transport timetable.
    How do you call brakes on Yugo? - Accessories!
    How do you double Yugo's value? - Top up it's tank.
    How do you call a Yugo on mountain top? - A miracle!
    And a lot more...
  • jkwalk25jkwalk25 Member Posts: 1
    This was great! I have not had time to read the full story yet, but there were several times I busted out laughing at the captions on the pictures. I will be coming back to read the full story for sure ;-)
  • new22003new22003 Member Posts: 2
    edited July 2015
    I bought an 87 Yugo GV for $150 in 1993. That means they are on the rebound price wise, now all the collectors will be snatching them up.

    For all the hell the car catches I found mine to be mechanically pretty sound. Certainly on par with other sub-$1000 cars. Sure there were electrical fires in the dash and all the interior door handles and window cranks were broken but it never let me down. I rewired all the lights to toggles and as long as I had my trusty vice grips to clamp the stripped window crank gear I could get to my destination, roll down the window and use the outside handle and get out. A great joy of mine was loaning out the car minus the vice grips. Hearing the embarrassment from friends about being locked IN the car and having to flag down passersby was/is priceless to me.
  • sretensreten Member Posts: 1

    First time, I'm on your site and I was really happy when I saw that you have repotražu about my only car that I had.
    With him I came to the Croatian sea and I was right atrakcvija. Beautiful are the times were. But he began to tell the real problem anaser so I sold 200 EUR, which I paid for it. He spent less than 6 liters per 100 km

    Now it no longer came down to the interior bicycle but the memories remain.

    Respectfully driver YOGO 55 from Serbia, Loznica

    Sreten Popovic
  • topicthecroattopicthecroat Member Posts: 1
    funny as hell! ordinary day on some parts of Balkans up to date!
  • daryleasondaryleason TexasMember Posts: 501
    If this thing survives the term, I'd suggest that instead of selling it, Edmunds enter it into the 24 Hours of Lemon.
  • damndyddamndyd Member Posts: 1
    I still remember when my father brought home a brand new Yugo 55A in 1988. It was dark red with beige interrior. It was made for US market so it wasn't like all those poor for-Yugoslavia-made Yugos. Among other "candys" that "Yugoslav-market" Yugos didn't have, it had security belts on the back seats, second stop lamps and white "rear-gear" lamps. It was our pride and joy and I felt like a hot shot on my block :)
    Btw: great article!
    Regards from Slovenia!
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