The Real People’s Car – 1986 Yugo GV

As Fiat had just pulled out of the US market, and Renault and Volkswagen’s fortunes were waning, Malcolm Bricklin saw an opportunity to jump in with an inexpensive car to round out his long-in-the-tooth model line, the Pininfarina Azzura (Fiat 124) and Bertone X1/9, with a compact, affordable car. Originally pitched with a $4500 list price, a 10-year/100K-mile warranty and free maintenance, there was no doubt this car, developed for a closed socialist economy, would be a hit in a competitive capitalist market. Hundreds of changes were made to comply with American requirements and laws, and the cars were even built on a special production line with workers who were paid extra for their effort (wait, wasn’t this car was from a socialist country?). Ultimately, the Yugo GV went on the market at $3990, but now you can have this 1986 Yugo GV, in Nashua, NH, for a mere fraction of its original purchase price at either the $2695 Buy-It-Now price or the starting bid of $995 with reserve unmet and about 1 day left.

1986 Yugo GV right front

To be fair, the $3990 purchase price for a base 1986 Yugo is equivalent to about $8500 in today’s dollars. For comparison’s sake, the cheapest new 2013 car you can buy is a Nissan Versa S. You can spend all kinds of time thinking of what the S stands for, but Yugo kindly used a suffix with meaning – GV stands for Great Value! This particular car looks to be in decent shape for a road-salt state, with the only major rust being some penetration on the rear corner of the driver’s door. All in all, the condition suggests it survived a couple of winters and was then restricted to fair-weather use (or storage!).

1986 Yugo GV left rear

Okay, so there’s a little more bubbling on the hatch, and perhaps some tiny bubbles on the sill. But hey, this is a 27-year-old econobox – until 2012, this was the closest you could get to a new Fiat. The Something Wild sticker on the back suggests there’s fun in the trunk of this compact, and the fun should keep going since the seller has replaced many parts, including the timing belt and brake work with new calipers. Confusingly, the seller later says the brakes don’t work, so some clarification is in order.

1986 Yugo GV engine

All that’s left for you to do is to reconnect the heater, radio, and “some other minor things”. It appears a heater valve is provided, and with such a simple car, this and the radio should not be difficult jobs. Yugos also respond well to performance upgrades, and since it has roots in the Fiat 128, and the later 1300 engine was from a Fiat X1/9, doing a 1500 upgrade along with brake and suspension tweaks should be pretty straightforward.

1986 Yugo GV interior

The interior looks genuinely decent, with clean upholstery and no tears, or visible dash cracks. Some kind of sporting steering wheel, perhaps with a wood rim, would help liven up the Camry-beige interior. Some additional interior parts are included in the parts collection, which will probably come in handy – it’s a 1980s plastic interior, after all. That aside, there’s some small-car fun to be had here, and you won’t see yourself on the road!


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One Response to “The Real People’s Car – 1986 Yugo GV”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    I got one of these cars (with maybe 15K miles on it) given to me to cover a $100 debt in 1992. I sold it an ex-girlfriend for $200. When we went to pick it up the battery was dead so I attempted to push start it with her steering, while we were trying to accomplish this, various non-essential parts fell off the car such as the drivers mirror and the horn button. We never did get it started that day because the metal tab that was the throttle stop on the carb had broken off. I damn near had a heart attack pushing that heap hither and yon but we had a good laugh about it and we did get it going eventually, she drove it for a year or two. A few years before that my roommate bought one because he was in pinch and needed a cheap ride. His was a year old and had about 10K on it. He paid $1200 for it I think. The clutch went out right after he bought it and it was nearly $1000 to get it replaced (in 1989!) We took it to get pizza and beer on an especially cold day (in Fla.) while driving over a speedbump the plastic hinges that held the pop out side window to the car broke and that precious warmth retaining glass fell off the car and shattered making for an especially chilly ride to the pizzeria. These truly were complete crap. I think they existed only to make the Hyundaii Excel not look like such an abomination by comparison.

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