Top of the Line – 1988 Yugo GVX

Essentially a mashup of the Fiat 127 and 128, the Yugo was America’s cheapest car back in the late 1980s, a time when sales of Mercedes and other cars cloaked in gold and chrome trim reached an all-time high. Speaking of all-time highs, the popularity of cocaine was probably involved in some lapses of judgement, including the aforementioned gold/chrome packages, outlandish Gemballa flare packages, and for the savers (savingfordrugstomakemesosmartonlyafoolwouldwasteitoncars!!!!), the Hyundai Excel and Yugo. Kidding aside, if you were looking for cheap wheels in 1988, and didn’t mind doing a little more service than on a Civic, the Yugo was a pretty good option. Being a Fiat cousin, it had a little of that cheap, cheerful and sporty Italian spirit. And in 1988, the top of the line GVX came with a 1300 engine and 5-speed transmission, although fuel injection was still around the corner. You can find this 1980s icon (in fame or infamy, it is an icon), a 1988 Yugo GVX, for sale for $1000 in Portland, OR.

1988 Yugo GVX left front

This particular car seems to be in decent enough shape, and is said to run properly and have valid registration. The position of the front and rear wheels is a little funny, which could be the picture, or an actual problem. A new clutch is needed, so perhaps this is your occasion to source an EFI 1300 from a later Yugo and simply dump the existing powertrain. As with any cheap car, there’s something really liberating about knowing you can just park the car somewhere and not have to lock the doors. The body is said to be good, whatever that means, but there is a fair amount of warping in the plastic exterior trim, as you can see on the bumpers and side cladding. No pictures are offered of the interior or engine, but by the condition of the outside, you can expect sun damage on the interior. Could this car be a cheap entry into autocrossing, LeMons racing, or something else? You’d need to wait the seller out on price to enter LeMons, but that might not be too hard if you have a good story for him. You’ll definitely score some points, simply for racing a Yugo.

1988 Yugo GVX right rear

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4 Responses to “Top of the Line – 1988 Yugo GVX”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    The Yugo’s reputation for awfulness was well deserved. I laugh about it now (and even then too) but the build quality of these things was astonishingly bad; lobeless cams in less then2k miles, stuff just falls off of them, the hinges for the pop-out windows were made of a plastic that gets brittle at temps below 30 degrees (a chilly ride indeed when the windows fall off the car and shatter, yes it happened, to my roommate and me)

  2. Rick In Pacific Asked: Says:

    I have a 1973 128 SL Coupe that I need some engine parts for. Is this car being parted out? I need a good cylinder head off one of these 1988 Yugo 1300cc engines. Is this a bad thing to ask??
    Thanks

  3. tom Says:

    I had a GVX. Ran like a top until my brother “helped” me change oil just before a move and the engine seized at about 50,000 miles. Everything worked yet, even the a/c. The 1.3 was strong and geared well. While not a screamer, it kept up with my cousins Escort GT just fine when we went out to try to lose each other. (Yes, I was young and dumb, too!) I lived in Florida with family in Wisconsin, used it to move with a rental car carrier on top. That little car squatted, but did 75 mph plus overloaded as it was without a hitch and would do an honest 100 mph plus. Rode a little stiff but handled well. I’d love to find another but having little luck in that regard.

    • Rick Says:

      There is a fixer-upper Yugo at fiatsplus.com.
      I have a 1.3 that still ran when I pulled it from the 128 SL Coupe I still have. It doesn’t have much more than 30k on a fresh rebuild…I also have the same four speed for it also…I think!

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