by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on March 16, 2016
New cars nowadays are subject to all sorts of tests to ensure they're crashworthy, that they don't fall apart rolling down the highway, or flood with water if caught out in the rain or attacked by a sprinkler gone rouge.
After months behind the wheel and an indefinite number of miles covered, we can say in good confidence that The Bullet is 0-for-2 by modern measures. So of course we had to give it the opportunity to go for the Triple Crown and see what would happen if we drove it into an El Niño downpour on purpose.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on January 18, 2016
The insightful lyrics of '80s hairband Cinderella couldn't ring truer after an exceptionally muscled editor snapped the window crank off the Yugo's driver-side door. A pair of mini vise-grips was a brilliant Band-Aid in the interim, but they lacked the mechanical efficiency that comes with a rotating knob.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on December 29, 2015
Everyone probably still remembers back in 2008 when gasoline prices hit a U.S. national average of more than $4 a gallon. Exciting times, they were. So exciting in fact that it was the first time I dealt with fuel theft, right in the backyard of my old office parking lot. Four employee personal cars parked in the lot overnight had their gas flaps pried open and their tanks siphoned empty. My old cargo van probably provided one of the largest scores, but escaped bodily damage thanks to the absence of a locking fuel door.
Had my van been equipped with proper fuel anti-theft technology like our 1989 Yugo GVL, perhaps the attack would have been thwarted entirely.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on December 4, 2015
"We need a new update on the Yugo. What's going on with it?" - @daryleason, 11/16/15
Odometer fixed? Not anymore; we've hit a full stop at 41,838. Kinda makes me wonder if I imagined that it was working in the first place. Speedometer fixed? On further review, the needle does seem less spastic, but there's still a comical margin of error. At least the interior passenger door panel's still clipped on tight, and I have no reason to doubt that the gas tank remains sludge-free and appreciates its nice new filler hose.
But a fresh problem reared its head as soon as I twisted the key. The Italian stallion under the hood was raging, and I couldn't calm it down.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on October 16, 2015
Following its triumphant weekend in Monterey, our long-term 1989 Yugo GVL headed back to the Yugo Doctor for a few tweaks. The odometer had stopped working on the way home, for one thing, and we also wanted to get the gas tank cleaned and treated to solve our sludge problem once and for all.
While we were at it, we asked our man David to check the jumpy speedometer needle, clip the loose passenger door panel back into place and see if he could track down a replacement driver window crank.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 13, 2015
As noted, our 1989 Yugo GVL wasn't the only car entered in the Kommunist Kar class. There was one other competitor.
A 1989 Yugo GVL.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 10, 2015
When we met the CNN crew in Monterey on Saturday morning, they said they'd heard the long-term 1989 Yugo GVL coming from a few blocks away. But our MacGyver repairs were holding steady. I told them not to worry about the noise; the exhaust had been reinforced with coat-hangers and chicken wire. Behind their bemused expressions, I'm sure they were relieved.
The plan was for on-camera guy Peter Valdes-Dapena to drive the car to Laguna Grande Park in the neighboring town of Seaside — the site of the Concours d'LeMons — with me riding shotgun. And that's what we did, exhaust blaring all the while. They shot some car-to-car video en route, but nothing inside the cabin, so the leak actually wasn't a big deal. It also gave us some extra street cred when we pulled up to the Concours sounding like a chainsaw.
Once we claimed our parking spot in the "Kommunist Kar" section, the exhaust no longer stood in our way. There was only one thing left to do:
Win whatever it is that a Concours d'LeMons winner wins.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 8, 2015
When Mark and I left "The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering" on Friday afternoon, we were simply hoping to find a shop that could patch up the Yugo's leaky exhaust. But the situation escalated on the outskirts of Monterey when a metallic clanking noise joined the chorus.
Now we didn't just have a leak; we had an exhaust pipe dragging on the pavement.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 1, 2015
We had one week remaining to get our 1989 Yugo GVL straight. Editor Elfalan had found a carburetor rebuild kit, but what if the stalling and stumbling was about more than just the carb?
As @desmolicious noted in a comment on J-Elf's post, the previous owner kept a few fuel filters in the trunk. "Keeping spare filters suggests the filters are getting clogged, suggesting there is some junk in the fuel system. Maybe you need to flush out the gas tank?"
Maybe so. Note, too, that the e-brake wasn't grabbing, we had no dash illumination and the cabin smelled like 87 octane. And CNN was sending a team to Monterey to drive the car on camera.
We needed to find an expert who could sort things out.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on August 30, 2015
You may recall that Editor Monticello was itching to take our 1989 Yugo GVL home in early August. Unfortunately, ignition was unavailable when he twisted the key. The battery had died.
August 13, 2015
Back in 1989, insightful Zastava engineers were already looking to reduce tailpipe emissions with bleeding edge auto-stop technology. Okay, so credit actually belongs to the Italians for this one, as our Balkan Bullet shares engine heritage with the Fiat 128. And the auto-stop is more of a passive function on our 1989 Yugo GVL that occurs randomly and sometimes while we're still moving.
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?"