Parked In ’98: 1986 Yugo GV Barn Find

I would hate to have to calculate just how many words have been written about the Yugo GV over the years. Or how many jokes have been made at this car’s expense. The reality is that it was not a great car when it was new, but you have to admit that any vehicle that can survive for 34-years can’t be all bad. This 1986 model is a recent barn find, and while it is looking a little bit tired, it would also appear to represent a straightforward restoration prospect. Like so many automotive oddballs, the Yugo has now developed something of a cult following. If you would like to join that happy band of Yugo owners, you will find this one located in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and listed for sale here on eBay. The auction has been set to open at $999, but there have been precisely no bids on the vehicle up to this point. It is also interesting to note that only 15 people are currently watching the listing. If you want to beat the possible late bidding rush, there is a BIN option. This has been set at $4,500.

One of the defining characteristics of the Yugo GV was the minimal number of choices a buyer had when it came to options. This even extended to paint colors, with the company only offering five colors in 1986. Probably the most attractive of these was Crystal Blue, which is what we find adorning the panels of this car. The Yugo was recently found languishing in a barn, a spot that it had occupied since 1998. It wouldn’t have had a lot of exposure to UV rays in that location, but the paint is now looking quite faded and tired. There is no doubt that a fresh coat of Blue would help this car to sparkle one again. There is some rust to address, but this isn’t particularly bad. The worst of it is peeking out from under the lower edge of the windshield on the driver’s side. It appears that someone has applied some Bondo over it, but the spot still only seems to be a couple of inches square. It looks like there might also be a spot in the leading edge of the hood, but a patch should fix that one. There are a few minor dings and dents, but fixing these shouldn’t be difficult. The wheels will need to be restored, but all of the trim is present, and the glass looks good.

Now we get to the throbbing heart of this little car, and to the story of why it spent 22-years sitting in a barn. What we find residing here is an 1,116cc 4-cylinder engine that produces 55hp. These ponies find their way to the front wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. That isn’t a lot of power and meant that the “sprint” from 0-60mph took a full 16.1 seconds. Top speed was whatever you could get out of it, but the official figure was quoted as 90mph. This Yugo had been used as a commuter vehicle by a university student, who it is claimed loved this beast. In 1998 it came to a sudden stop, which was courtesy of a failed fuel pump. He parked the GV in a barn, and that’s where it stayed. The current owner fitted a new fuel pump, a set of plugs and wires, and voila! The Yugo sprung back into life and is said to run nicely. It isn’t clear whether it is now roadworthy, but that is a question that would be worth asking, as the seller appears to be quite approachable.

The fit and finish of a Yugo interior was something that was never going to cause the bosses at Rolls-Royce to have sleepless nights. The color matching wasn’t brilliant when the vehicle was new, and things tended to worsen with each passing year. There is plenty of evidence of these problems inside this Yugo when you look at the plastic. Probably the best piece of news is that none of it has managed to crumble to dust at this point. Another positive point comes in the form of the ready availability of trim pieces. The fact that the GV sold in decent numbers means that there are plenty of donor cars hidden away as a source of spares. More surprisingly, eBay is littered with new or reproduction pieces, which means keeping the interior looking nice would not be that difficult. Apart from the plastic issues, the cover on the driver’s seat is now quite wrinkled. However, I believe that this could be stretched back into shape without the need for replacement. The rest of the upholstery looks good, and the vehicle is fitted with a genuine Yugo AM/FM radio/cassette player.

In 2017, the Yugo GV found itself on the Time Magazine list of The 50 Worst Cars of All Time. It shared the spotlight with all of the usual suspects, including the Pinto, the Corvair, and the Edsel. Many people would argue that they were designed to be cheap and cheerful, but that the company only got that part 50% right. In 1986, 35,959 people liked these little cars enough to slap down their cash for one. They developed a reputation as a car that was fragile and unreliable. The reality is that a surprising number have survived to this day, including this one. They are a car that now has a bit of a cult following, and even though there have been no bids on this one up until now, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone decides to give it a new home.

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  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    These were advertised for $3990 if I remember right.

    Like 6
    • Billy

      I recall an RV dealership that was giving Yugos away for free with the purchase of an RV.

      Like 2
    • Roy

      Actually the new price was $2995. Poor Yugo’s, such a crap rep’s;
      I used to own over a dozen of them at my car rental business. They were great cars! But, as many cars did of the era, they had interference engines. Good comfortable ride, 40 mpg, never had one break down. Car was based on the Fiat 128 which Fiat sold to the Yugoslavs and Malcolm Bricklin brought to the US.

  2. Stephen Miklos

    I drove one in early 90’s. Going around turns too fast was a trip!! I thought it had a Fiat engine and trans. If you wanted to go fast. Make sure the wind is pushing you and going down hill.😂

    Like 4
    • Blyndgesser

      The Yugo’s powertrain was basically the same as the obsolete Fiat 128. Unlike the relationship between the Lada and the larger Fiat 124, the Yugo didn’t get much re-engineering in the transition, so parts from the Fiat counterpart will often fit.

      Like 2
  3. James Cobb

    Is it true they all came standard with a rear window defroster? Some say it was offered like that so you could keep your hands warm while pushing them off the road!!

    Like 3
  4. Ken Carney

    Good luck finding parts for this thing–
    especially here in Florida. After YUGO
    USA closed it’s doors in 1992, parts
    supplies dried up and brand new left
    over cars were sent to the crusher. The
    folks that kept them had to pick through the local wrecking yards just to find spark plugs to keep them running! And
    when I found out that a fellow newspaper carrier was using one to
    deliver her route, I was floored. Where was she getting the parts to keep it going? Turns out that she had no fewer
    than five parts cars along with three or
    four drivable cars on her farm outside of
    Polk City, Florida! If you were lucky enough, you could buy one for $25 a week from your friendly buy here-pay here used car lot, but they found few
    takers. There was one dealer that sold
    them for $10 a week just to get rid of the supply he had, but even that didn’t work and he wound up giving them away
    as part of a buy one get one free deal he
    was running back then. But then, they did the same thing with used Studebakers after they shut down too.

  5. Murray shane

    I remember back in Hawaii the dealer for Yugo was Jim Slemmins Volvo. They had seven or eight Yugo cars they couldn’t sell so they has a special deal. Buy one car and get one free. You buy a new Volvo and you got a Yugo for free. While supplies last. They actually still had a tough time getting rid of them. I personally always thought they were a pretty cute little run about….of course I like my Pacer and just finally got a Edsel wagon so I guess I just like the weird factor or just like the punishment I put on myself. That being said every time I drive the Pacer I get more smiles and conversations than if I were driving anything else.

    Like 6
    • Leland

      People like common cars of yesteryears. When I go to a car show, more people are gathered around a Dodge Omni or a four door six cylinder Falcon then any of the overly restored muscle cars. People can relate to what we all had and used, not what some rich snotty kid down the street drove that kept you and the kids up at night with a too loud muffler. Memories are worth so much more than dreams of what we once wanted when young, at least for us old folks.

      Like 19
    • angliagt angliagt Member

      I wonder how many people bought a Volvo,
      but turned down the free Yugo?

      Like 4
  6. Dave

    Put it back in the barn; it’s not ready yet.

    Like 8
  7. Joshua

    When I was a teen in high school 1987 there was a Cadillac dealership in town that was advertising that if you brought a new Caddy I don’t remember which you got a Yugo free. But even back then I remember them a beyond cheap. Fast forward to about 2005 and I saw one for sale in Ranson WV for $150. I offered the guy $100 and he took it. A week or so later I sold it on eBay for $450. That is really my only great experience with a Yugo.

    Like 2
  8. Backintheusa

    I certainly understand the appeal of owning an unloved vehicle like the Yugo. But “it was not a great car when it was new” is quite the understatement. In 1986 I was doing marketing research for the automotive industry. One of our products was a quality tracking survey that measured Things Gone Wrong per 100 vehicles with cars at 3 months, 1 and 3 years. I remember looking at new Yugos in our data and discovering that a 3 years old base Toyota Tercel was two times more reliable than a brand new Yugo. I don’t think we ever studied a car with as many problems as the Yugo.

    Like 2
  9. karl holquist

    This type of car got blew of the Big Mac. Bridge in Michigan!! Due to flat floor pan and bad luck for the woman falling 200 feet without even hitting the guardrail. so sad! Buyer beware!!

    Like 1
    • Mopar55

      I remember hearing about that….My Father-in-Law worked on Mackanac Island at the time it happened…..very sad….

  10. Joe

    The author Adam seemed to miss this about the title, Rebuilt, Rebuildable & Reconstructed. Why would someone even want to start this project.

    Like 2
  11. David Bailey

    In a serious note. A wonderful lady I worked with years ago took her YUGO across Michigan’s Mackinaw Bridge. Unfortunately a strong gale blew her YUGO up and off roadway onto a guide wire. Her car slid down the massive wire, then plunged her and the car almost 200 feet to her death. Scary what gusts of wind could cause to happen with these cars. She waas very nice…

    Like 5
  12. Skorzeny

    I’ve worked on thousands of cars, and surprisingly I didn’t think a Yugo was the worst. The worst was the Renault Encore, built in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

    Like 5
    • 370zpp

      I worked at a Volvo/Renault dealership in the 80s and the mechanics there would just shake their heads at the Encore and Alliance. They hated to see those come back. And they did. Often.

      Like 2
      • angliagt angliagt Member

        You know you’ve got a really bad car when
        you pull up to the service department,& ALL of the
        mechanics disappear.

        Like 4
  13. Brian M Member

    Yu push, Yu go. Back in 1989 or so, one of the students at our real estate school showed up in a full dress Yugo! Twin whip antennae, with racoon tails, a continental kit, spinner wheel covers, neon in the wheel wells, nodding dog in the rear window and ball fringe around the interior. I believe that it was a pale yellow and may have had vent-visors on the door windows. At break time it drew quite a crowd! Pretty much the Yugo interpretation of a J.C. Whitney accessory catalog. The guy, I believe, was a retired AF colonel having a good time with his little car.

    Like 1
  14. Tamir Lehrer

    I’m very tempted..

    Like 2
  15. Willowen Member

    I have enough very fond memories of my “obsolete” Fiat 128 that I tried very hard to find another one after the badly-repaired chassis of mine (it had been front-ended harder than my dealer wanted to reveal) finally started to fall apart. When that proved either impossible (locally) or too much trouble (too expensive or too far away) I almost got a Yugo … but by the time I’d arranged the money it had been sold. And by then I was in my first Alfa, and that was that.

    In all fairness I must say that the 128 could do something the Alfa was hopeless at: driving successfully over snow and ice. It could scamper up icy hills that I wouldn’t even try in the Berlina; that was a good reason to sell my country house and move to town!

    Like 1
  16. al leonard

    Time to put it back in the barn…………….

    Like 1
  17. michael kelly

    I once saw a transmission fall straight out of a Yugo in a parking lot.

  18. Jim

    That rust around the windshield makes this one a no go. The rest of the car looks like it could be cleaned up pretty well, but the cancer looks terminal on a car of this type.

    Like 1
  19. jokacz

    A Fiat by any other name would smell as foul.

  20. Ray

    My friend’s dad had one that went up in flames while parked in the driveway. The spare tire was on top of the engine. That made for some spectacularly thick smoke.

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