1989 Yugo GVL: Monterey Car Week - Victory Lap
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 20, 2015
It's a 284-mile drive down U.S. Route 101 from Soledad to Santa Monica. A few months ago, the prospect of tackling it in a 1989 Yugo GVL would have been laughable. Surely something would break and ruin the trip. Also our lives.
But the Edmunds Yugo was unstoppable from Boise to Los Angeles, and it never broke a sweat from L.A. to Watsonville. Then it schlepped us to the Quail, the Concours d'LeMons and the Concours d'Elegance on successive mornings. With the newly patched exhaust, it sounded better than ever.
Only a fool would bet against it now.
I'm no fool, I tell you, so I volunteered for the first leg from Soledad to Santa Maria. That's farm country, mostly, with the Coast Ranges blocking the cooling effect of the sea. It was early Sunday afternoon, and the forecast said hot. I preemptively removed my suit jacket and hung it in the window.
Has a Banana Republic blazer ever hung inside a Yugo? Go on and marinate on that for a minute.
This Suburban driver presumably had no idea why I was taking a photo of her vehicle on the freeway, but she smiled and waved anyway. Such is the irresistible appeal of the Edmunds Yugo.
The Murano's exterior temperature gauge reported 111 degrees at one point, breaking the all-time Yugo record we'd set on the way to Watsonville (see Part 3). I had the heat on full blast as a precaution and with the windows down at highway speeds, I couldn't even feel it. The throttle was pegged pretty much the whole time, but our dual-filtered engine didn't miss a beat. Other than my bottled water getting hot again — I've drunk more hot water (and Cockta) in this car than in the entire rest of my life — it was borderline thrilling.
Ron took the wheel after an early dinner in Santa Maria. Next stop: Edmunds HQ. We hit a minor snag north of Santa Barbara when roadside signs informed us that the 101 South was jammed up due to encroaching wildfires. The time-saving alternative was to take Route 154 over the San Marcos Pass, a beautiful but decidedly hilly detour.
No need to worry. The Yugo was rock-solid up and over the 2,225-foot pass, with nary a hint of the part-throttle stumbling that had plagued it toward the end of the Boise adventure.
Back on the 101, traffic was moving nicely. We were almost home.
Bikers dig the Edmunds Yugo. Let's be honest, everyone digs the Edmunds Yugo.
Look at that jaunty stance.
Many cars were not faster than our speeding Balkan Bullet.
Boom! Back in the garage. The odometer broke somewhere along the way, so I can't tell you how many miles we covered, but the Yugo was ready for more. It was truly a command performance. Somewhere Tito was smiling.
Granted, our success didn't come cheap. The new battery, pre-trip mechanic visits and mid-trip exhaust repairs added up to $879.69. Throw in the brakes and tires in Boise and you've got maintenance costs of about 1.5 Edmunds Yugos thus far.
But in the wise words of Tiger Woods, "Winning takes care of everything." The Yugo got its vodka and beets. The rest is just details.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor