From the Vault: Edmunds' 1989 Yugo GVL

The Balkan Bullet Was a Long-Termer for the Ages


This week's short retrospective article has Josh Sadlier, now our director of content strategy but formerly our semi-official Yugo Guy, looking back at our distinctly memorable 1989 Yugo GVL. It was part of our long-term test program, and we drove it an unknown number miles (because the odometer stopped working) before selling it on Bring a Trailer. Make sure to check out the Yugo's original wrap-up article as well as individual blog-style posts. We also have more than 15 brand-new vehicles we're testing in our long-term program right now.

1989 Yugo GVL

What's the Most Memorable Thing You Did With the Edmunds Yugo?
What wasn't memorable about the Yugo? That's a better question. But OK, for me it comes down to two road trips: the one back home from Boise after we bought the car, and then the one to Monterey that culminated in the Yugo's victory at the 2015 Concours d'Lemons.

First there was Boise. We'd found the car on Boise Craigslist, and a small team of editors drove there from L.A. in a couple of other long-term vehicles — a Ford F-150 and an Audi A3 — to pick it up. Prior to closing the deal, we visited a local establishment called Bosnia Express and loaded up on authentic Balkan snacks with names like Cockta and Krem Banana. As the Yugo's Long-Term Intro explains in great detail, the 900-mile drive home was surprisingly uneventful until some kind of carburetor or fuel filter (or both!) issue cropped up in Mojave, about two hours from Edmunds HQ. Throttle response was particularly dicey from there on out, but we somewhat heroically made it back to the garage under our own power.

Then there was Monterey Car Week. Scarred from the final chapter of the Boise trip, I suggested trailering the car from L.A., but our editor-in-chief at the time ordered us to drive it, so drive it we did. The Concours d'Lemons is a humbler alternative to the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, taking place not on a world-famous golf course but rather in a public park a few miles away. We entered the Yugo in the Kommunist Kar class and won first place, I'm proud to say, for which we were awarded a bag containing a bottle of vodka, a jar of borscht, a can of beets and a cutting board. Other than dropping its muffler in downtown Monterey, the car performed flawlessly and even put in appearances at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering and Pebble itself for Dawn Patrol.

What Did You Like the Most About It?
Objectively, there wasn't much to like about the Yugo. It needed more than 15 seconds to hit 60 mph. It was noisy. The sound system was awful. It smelled weird. A significant accident would not have gone well for anyone inside. The four-speed manual transmission's shift lever is the vaguest I've ever operated.

I can think of some good things, though. Visibility was outstanding! For having an antiquated rear leaf-spring suspension, it rode surprisingly well! And, umm, I guess that's about it.

How Much Is It Worth Now?
We bought the Yugo for $950 and sold it on Bring a Trailer for $2,202. Even accounting for repairs and maintenance, it had the lowest cost of ownership in the history of our long-term program, and it will undoubtedly remain the only program graduate to sell for more than twice what we paid. But what's it worth now? Assuming it's still running, it's got to be one of the few decent Yugo specimens left in the U.S. Could it pull $5,000 today? More? After all we went through together, nothing would surprise me about that car.

If You Came Across This Yugo Again, and You Had the Money, Would You Buy It?
Absolutely not. But I'd give it an affectionate pat.

1989 Yugo GVL

1989 Yugo GVL: The Final Zbogom

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