1989 Yugo GVL: The Bullet Goes Billet
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.
Unfortunately our Yugo Doctor's parts purveyor was fresh out of replacement window cranks, so we took our search online, browsing large auto part warehouses like RockAuto and smaller specialty sites like the one suggested by Edmunds' blog commenter ab348. This, too, proved surprisingly unsuccessful.
Acknowledging that any aftermarket hardware would likely decrease our chances of a repeat victory in the 2016 Concours d'LeMons' Kommunist Kar class at Pebble Beach, we made the executive decision of convenience over authenticity.
There is no shortage of non-factory options once the aftermarket door is opened. We pondered the irony of fitting a set of $1200 vintage Ferrari 250 window cranks, which would more than double The Bullet's resale value, but instead landed on a more cost-efficient universal solution for $12.59 shipped to our door.
Machined out of solid "billet" aluminum, the chromed-finished cranks came with three sets of hub adapters, a handful of set screws and an Allen key — everything we'd theoretically need for the swap.
Releasing the tension spring of the vise-grips, I was somewhat surprised to find the hub splines were still perfectly intact. I decided to try the spline adapters first.
A perfect fit. That almost never happens, especially when the word "universal" is involved.
In an effort to preserve some of the original factory appearance, I referenced the position of the passenger-side window crank with the window completely rolled up.
With the splined adapter properly indexed, the north and south set screws went in to hold the adapter to the hub.
The crank was then screwed to the adapter with the east and west screws.
Voila! Rinse and repeat on passenger side for symmetry.
It's amazing the amount of convenience a rotating knob adds to the act of rolling up a window. And being machined out of what appears to be a pretty solid piece of metal, Josh Sadlier is going to have a much harder time wearing out these beauties.
Now that we know how rare original Yugo windows cranks are, we might put this spare up on eBay and see if we can recoup our $12.59.
Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor