1989 Yugo GVL: Monterey Car Week - L.A. to Watsonville
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 3, 2015
The drive from Top Tech in Huntington Beach to Edmunds HQ in Santa Monica was thankfully uneventful. No idle or power issues; full steam ahead. Miraculously, we had a strong-running 1989 Yugo GVL and were still on schedule for a 1:00 p.m. departure.
The rest of Team Yugo — Product Manager Mark Holthoff, Senior Consumer Advice Editor Ron Montoya and Automotive Editor James Riswick — was ready to roll, Riswick in his personal 1998 BMW Z3 2.8 and the other guys in the long-term Murano.
But first, I had to pick up a couple things, both of which are on display in the photo below.
Earlier in the week, Editor Magrath had brilliantly suggested that we procure an #EdmundsYugo bumper sticker to get the hashtag out there and replace the sad fragment of whatever sticker used to be on the rear window. Edmunds' own design team whipped up a sharp comp on short notice, and Custom Quick Sign in Santa Monica had 25 stickers ready to go when I arrived late Thursday morning.
Second, the car got registered in Michigan. Edmunds maintains an office in Detroit, and Executive Editor Ed Hellwig was kind enough to visit the DMV on the Yugo's behalf while he was over that way. Out with the Edmunds.com plate and temporary California operating permit, then, and in with that shiny Michigan tag. We were stickered and street-legal.
Time to hit the road.
Oops, one more thing. I stopped to grab my golf clubs, just in case we had an opportunity to squeeze in nine holes over the weekend. Was this the first time in the history of the universe that a golf bag was transferred from a Mercedes SL to a Yugo? I say yes.
I took the first Yugo shift up the 101 from Santa Monica, which was a bit grueling through the San Fernando Valley with the windows down and temps touching 110 degrees, but otherwise pleasant as could be. We stopped for gas in Santa Barbara, as the Yugo's 8-gallon tank, indeterminate fuel economy and mostly broken fuel gauge don't exactly inspire confidence. We also downed some delicious tacos at Lilly's Taqueria — you should too when you're passing through — and then it was time to switch drivers.
Captain Montoya had the conn.
There are some pretty steep hills on U.S. 101 North past Santa Barbara. On at least one occasion, Ron had to drop into third gear. But as usual, the Yugo thrived on the open road, and Ron's cruising speed steadily increased. A bond was clearly forming.
Just a couple of hatchbacks out for a cruise. We determined that the Yugo was significantly more exciting to drive.
Why Watsonville, you ask? Because we didn't decide to do this until mid-July, which meant the only remaining housing options in the Monterey area were depressing motel rooms for $400-500 a night. And we'd need two of those. I looked on Airbnb and found a two-bedroom condo in Watsonville for $650 a night all-in. It was 27 miles north, but it was also right on the beach.
This is what it looked like during the day just over the dunes. I like to think we made the right call.
In any case, all three cars got there in one piece and the Yugo was still running tip-top.
Mark and I decided to press our luck the following morning and drive the Balkan Bullet to The Quail — "A Motorsports Gathering."
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor