If you were around in the 1980s you probably heard something about the Yugoslavian made car, the Yugo. It was a typical European hatchback, reminding me of the VW Rabbit I owned in the mid-1970s. A big difference being, the Rabbit is still manufactured, under the name Golf, and is considered one of the world’s great compact cars. On the other hand, the Yugo was and remains, the car with arguably the world’s worst reputation. It was reputed to be so bad, the saying went, that friends didn’t let friends drive Yugos.
I’ve only known of two Yugos, one was owned by a guy in Rainsboro who had made a business out of buying and selling used cars out of his driveway. He had a white Yugo and kept it for several months, always singing its praises. It wouldn’t have been good business to sing otherwise.
The other one belonged to a ham radio friend of mine who lived in Dayton. I never knew the truth about his car because he enjoyed that the car and himself being the butt of so many jokes. I do know that he, in fact, owned the car because he once drove it to my home to pick up some radio equipment he’d purchased off of me. So, his Yugo was good enough to make it the 140-mile round trip.
My favorite Yugo story was about the time he came on the air one morning and reported that during the night someone had stolen his Yugo from the street in front of his home. That someone would risk prison for a Yugo gave birth to lots of jokes but the killer was his reporting, less than 2-days later, that whoever had stolen the car had returned it.
I did a little research for this piece and discovered that Yugos do have their defenders. Where most stories have “worst” in their titles there are some that include the word “adequate.”
I also looked at the used car market and the value of a late model Rabbit can be as high as $16,000. A Yugo, on the other hand, can be had for far less than $500.