August 3, 2015
The Department of Motor Vehicles parking lot is packed at 9:25 a.m. All parking spaces are full and there is a line of people out the door. Two lanes lead around to the back side of the building. In the right lane idles a row of at least 10 cars with sweaty teenagers behind the wheel, anxiously waiting to take their on-road driving test.
The left lane is for vehicle inspections only: Used cars, recently repaired cars or cars purchased out of state. I maneuver our 1989 Yugo GVL into the left lane and around the turn.
July 30, 2015
You've followed the continuing adventures of Kurt and Josh in their quest to get our 1989 Yugo GVL home under its own power. You've seen its first unofficial zero-to-60 run. You've seen the guys connect with the car over assorted foodstuffs from its region of origin.
And now you'll see if they can make it home.
For after nearly 900 miles, the Yugo starts getting fussy down the home stretch, particularly a stretch of very downhill freeway that connects the San Fernando Valley to coastal west Los Angeles, as seen in the photo above. The Fiat-sourced engine shows its true espresso-fueled character, only happy at high revs and wide-open throttle.
July 28, 2015
When we picked up our long-term 1989 Yugo GVL in Boise, Idaho, I didn't envy Josh Sadlier or Kurt Niebuhr. They had no air-conditioning in a terrifyingly underpowered car from the 80s and 900 miles of scorching hot desert to traverse. I was driving our long-term F-150 and never imagined that I would become jealous of the Yugo.
But somehow, I did.
July 23, 2015
Somehow the Operation Balkan Bullet team found a Bosnian market in Boise, near the home of our 1989 Yugo GVL's previous owner. Not only that, but the market's proprietor knew the Yugo owner to whom we'd soon fork over $950. It was a serendipitous collision of cosmic circumstance, one that could only mean that the Yugo was fated for our garage.
Facing a 900-mile return trip, the boys needed some road trip snacks. But no jerky, high-fructose corn syrup drinks and Fig Newtons here; this trip called for some of the same snacks possibly munched on by the people who built the car, like Lokum and Cockta.
Hit the jump to see Kurt go big, throwing down a Lokum like a jalapeno popper - if a jalapeno popper were a dry-breaded food-like thing that turns a mouth to cotton. Turns out it's meant to be dipped in coffee, like a biscotti. They dipped it alright, in a big bath of caffeine-free Cockta soft drink to follow.
I think that Lokum is still under the passenger seat.
July 21, 2015
Our 1989 Yugo GVL has been the surprise feel good hit of the summer. First it made it back from Boise under its own power. Then it ended up on Los Angeles television. Word and video of our oddball long-termer has even made it back to the motherland. Kurt tells us he's big in Serbia.
Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. After all, our guys were smitten with this car the minute they settled into the front seats. Hit the jump to watch Kurt and Josh run down their initial impressions. Broken lap belts, under-seat recline levers, and a soupy gearbox (Josh: "I don't know what gear that is") can't break the Yugo's obvious spell on these guys.
Will it last?
July 20, 2015
Our 1989 Yugo GVL has quickly become a media darling, and it just had its first star turn in the bright lights of Los Angeles. The local ABC affiliate caught wind of the story and suggested shooting a segment on the mean streets of Beverly Hills.
After treating the Yugo to a well-deserved hand wash - unconscionably, it hadn't been cleaned since the drive from Boise - we met ABC's two-man crew in Beverly Gardens Park at 10:30 a.m., and the story went live that very evening.
Here's the clip in all its glory.
July 16, 2015
Some of the crew decided a 1989 Yugo GVL would make an ideal penalty box, one to which you could be assigned for a multitude of sins: missing a deadline, delaying the car signout sheet, opining that the seats in our long-term Mustang really aren't that bad.
Around here, there are fewer penalties more severe than a slow car. What's the old saw: it's more fun to drive a slow car fast? Well, I'll believe that when we finally take the Yugo off-highway in one of our local canyons, where we can have fun driving it slowly and destructively.
In the meantime, we're gathering data on the car. What follows in the video after the jump is our earliest instrumented testing - using two mobile phone apps - of the Yugo's acceleration, in a valiant effort by Kurt and Josh to extract some sass out of the old girl.
It's not pretty.
July 1, 2015
"What are you guys up to, anyway?" asks the proprietor of Bosnia Express. Her tone is friendly, her Eastern European accent soft but unmistakable.
We're approaching the register with armloads of Balkan foodstuffs like Cockta and Krem Banana. It's noon on a Saturday. We're on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho. Our five-man team left Los Angeles about 24 hours ago in the Edmunds long-term F-150 and A3, sleeping minimally in Winnemucca, Nevada. There's no known Balkan ancestry among us. Perhaps we look a little out of place.
We drop the Cockta on the counter and explain that we're about to buy a 1989 Yugo GVL and drive it back to L.A., and we need some appropriate snacks for the road.
"Oh! You must be buying Arko's Yugo. The white one, right?" She chuckles. "My husband drove it just last week."
Minds blown. She knows the seller? More importantly, the car is actually road-worthy? We found it on the devil that is Craigslist. All we really know is that it's got less than 40,000 miles on the clock, it's covered about 700 miles since 2002 and the engine has unspecified idle issues. Arko has already weighed in via text: "Would not recommend driving it to L.A. It looks better on a trailer lol." We've been wondering what condition we'll find it in.
"Oh yes, it runs. It's fine. He drove it all over the city."
This is greatly encouraging. But wait. Is her husband interested in buying the car?
"No." Zero hesitation. Then she cocks her head. "Why would you want to buy a Yugo?"