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Cold Fresh Hell: Over 2,000 Miles In A Yugo In The Polar Vortex, For Fun


Cold Fresh Hell: Over 2,000 Miles In A Yugo In The Polar Vortex, For Fun

Malcom Bricklin must’ve sincerely believed that he was doing the American car buyer a favor in the late 1980s when he took a look a the Zastava Koral and decided, “Hey, that could work!” You probably don’t need a lesson in how that didn’t work…the Yugo is one of the most derided vehicles in history, a tiny tarted-up Fiat 127-based variant that originally was supposed to appeal as a small, efficient car that had a bargain-basement price tag. Overall, though, the Yugo’s reputation couldn’t be more mired in mud if you tried. Quality control was a joke, the engines were scarily underpowered, and you couldn’t shake the feeling that you were driving a very noisy shoebox. On the best of circumstances, driving a Yugo should be a “once for the experience” situation. Driving over 2,100 miles in some of the coldest weather to strike the United States in decades is the textbook definition of “bad idea”. You could take any other beater to the LeMons “Retreat From Moscow” rally and you’d do better for yourself. A busted-ass AMC Eagle. A 1980s Imperial dressed up as a General Mayhem mimic. A convertible Chrysler LeBaron with wood trim. ANYTHING but a Yugo! But that is the car that was chosen and that is the car that went on the trip. Credit given where it is due, it takes a special kind to look at a Yugo and decide that a cross-country trip is a good idea. Here’s the story and the ride-along with Mr. Regular narrating the whole trip!


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4 thoughts on “Cold Fresh Hell: Over 2,000 Miles In A Yugo In The Polar Vortex, For Fun

  1. Gary

    I’d do it in a New York Minute! My wife bought me a brand new Yugo for my birthday in ’91, ostensibly so I’d stop riding my ZX10 Ninja in freezing rain, snow, etc during winter. It was a GREAT car! I’ll go a step further. Anyone who claims to be a car guy, yet can’t enjoy driving the most basic, underpowered vehicles, is no car guy at all, but just a thrill seeker. The Yugo was the vehicle to develop energy managment skills with. Keeping up momentum, and moving quickly. I loved it. My brother is always looking for a clean example to buy so we can drop a 2.2 turbo’d Mopar in it as a sleeper…

  2. Davey

    I drove a late 60s Vauxhall Viva … This was one of those tiny little cars powered by a 4 cylinder that was so small you could lift it out of the engine bay without a picker. I used to drive this thing on the highway every day… The routine to get it up to speed was… Put your foot to the floor… count to 600… by then you were doing 80 kph (100 kph speed limit)… then you pulled out the choke… and use a rocking style body motion to encourage the car to 90 kph… unless there was a head wind… or it was warm out. The heater was a joke, brakes almost non existent (even when fixed) and it handled like a kids red wagon with 1 flat tire. This car leaked fluids from… well… everywhere. I drove this thing for 3 years… loved it.

  3. RK - no relation

    These experiences are important for car lovers. They teach us to appreciate the slightly better shit boxes that we have now.

    We had a 1971 Corrolla with One Litre engine and four speed. Thats where I discovered how an under powered little car can be fun to drive. The engine was smooth and rev happy. These were compared to sewing machines, not as a compliment, but it actually was a compliment to how free revving and zippy the engine was. Peppy was a word used a lot for cars like this.

    And if you don’t have memories of driving a VW Beetle to work, freezing while the passenger scrapes the inside of the wind screen, then you are not fully experienced in winter driving.

  4. tw

    I drove a Tercel for several years , and yes you can learn to drive and appreciate all kind of cars . Good gas milleage is also a type of performance we can enjoy.

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