Yugo, He Gone: Improving The Most Hated Car Ever With The Most Hated Engine Swap Ever!


Yugo, He Gone: Improving The Most Hated Car Ever With The Most Hated Engine Swap Ever!

“Two wrongs don’t make a right!” Story of my childhood, and many others, I’m sure. Story of Malcom Bricklin’s career, if we are to be honest, as well. First, he brought Subaru to America. It started off pretty badly, but to his credit, all you need is a first step, and look at where the company is now. His second step wound up figuring out the secret into getting Canadians very angry in a manner that didn’t involve beer, moose, or the eating of the last Nanaimo bar. That pet project is known as the Bricklin SV-1, a car that was supposed to be something of a mashup between a C3 Corvette in looks and performance, painted Mopar colors and powered by either a Ford or AMC V8, but with a body of questionable structural integrity. After winding up with a bill to the province of New Brunswick to the tune of $21 million, he imported Fiat sports cars for a bit before Pininfarina’s deal with Cadillac for the Allant√© killed that cash cow, and that’s when this little gem hit the shores of the United States. Rooted in a 1971 Fiat design and in production since 1977 as the Zastava Koral, in 1987 the Yugo appeared on American shores. It was the lowest-priced car in America, promised to be thrifty on gasoline and easy to live with, much in the same way as the Chevrolet Chevette would be.

Here’s the thing about the Yugo: it’s reputation has been lower than low for decades. I’ve honestly seen one cut up with the rear section used for a mail box. The last time I saw one running, the owner had to push it backwards because reverse was either an option or had checked out completely from the transaxle. And I’ve never seen a running Yugo that wasn’t puking out oily blue smoke from the little drain pipe of an exhaust. Which makes this shiny, nearly restored example found at the Merrill Ice Drags something of an anomaly. Well, there is the 5.3L LS under the hood, too. They say that you should only race something you aren’t afraid to push off of a cliff. As long as the engine can come out for another body shell, this Yugo just might be the perfect choice…because, really, who doesn’t want to shove one of these off of a cliff?


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7 thoughts on “Yugo, He Gone: Improving The Most Hated Car Ever With The Most Hated Engine Swap Ever!

  1. chevy hatin' mad geordie

    Surprise surprise!

    Even Bryan hates LS motors – so why inflict this pile of shit powered by a pile of shit on us?

    Just as well there’s a hungry crusher nearby…..

    1. Mostly Kindred Spirit to CHMG

      I’ve owned a “64 Dodge 330 max wedge (first car!) a ’69 Dart 383 GTS, my family has owned two ’67 GTX’s, one 440 auto and one hemi four speed, Road Runners, and even a Superbird. I’ve raced a 200 mph drag bike. I’ve also owned a Yugo. It’s a great little car. Tired of people ragging on it. It’s like this; if you can’t have fun driving a Yugo, you are simply not a car guy.

    2. Bryan McTaggart Post author

      Couldn’t be more wrong, Geordie. Fast is fast, and I’ve seen LS engines make just about anything move out…Mitsubishi Eclipses, late-model Dodge Chargers that had self-destructing V6s, and more. I will only agree that they seem to be dominant, but when they are that easy to locate and parts are widely available, why would you pass it up? ESPECIALLY for a Yugo!

  2. Mostly Kindred Spirit to CHMG

    I’ve owned a “64 Dodge 330 max wedge (first car!) a ’69 Dart 383 GTS, my family has owned two ’67 GTX’s, one 440 auto and one hemi four speed, Road Runners, and even a Superbird. I’ve raced a 200 mph drag bike. I’ve also owned a Yugo. It’s a great little car. Tired of people ragging on it. It’s like this; if you can’t have fun driving a Yugo, you are simply not a car guy.

  3. Jacob Bloechl

    Thanks for the write up on my car. The whole motivation behind this build was to create something whacky and piss people off in the process – which seems to be working. It\’s a ton of fun and I\’m glad it\’s getting some attention by some well known people who enjoy whacky cars as much as I do. Thanks again.

  4. Sam

    most people that always dog on the Yugo have never driven a Yugo… they were a flamingly fun pile of shit that you could fix with duct tape, vice grips and a screwdriver with half the tip missing. Three guys could pull it out of a ditch and put it back on the road after performing the Yugoslavian version of kamikaze down a snowy one lane road… it would go places most ATV\’s would fear. You could drive it all weekend on $10 (assuming it ran all weekend)… and if you blew it up, you were out maybe $20… I\’ve driven several Yugos over the years and have always regretted never buying one of them. There was something delightfully awful about these cars. You knew they were a flaming pile of poo, but that was almost the endearing thing about them. They were like taking an ugly date out for dinner and then realizing you were having fun, hoping like hell your friends didn\’t see you.

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