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The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car…

The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History

by Jason Vuic

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I enjoyed this book much more than I expected. It was a bit repetitive, but I read it word for word. Despite the shocking title, the author shows that the much-maligned Yugo was far from the worst car in history. Due to the confluence of Cold War politics and the materialism embraced by the 80s “Me Generation”, the Yugo became a notorious butt of jokes. The kicker of the book is the role of Malcolm Bricklin in the whole sordid tale - a fast-talking opportunist who ran the company one step ahead of its creditors and drew everyone from Slobodan Milošević to Henry Kissinger into his web of bullshit.

To Americans a car is an expression of wealth, social standing and sex appeal. I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason why my dad bought one for me in high school - it was definitely NOT sexy. But it was an economical and reliable car. After I left home, my father continued to commute to work daily in the little white Yugo until he retired.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
Oh the Yugo. You've heard of it, you may have actually seen it, you may have heard some jokes, but you probably don't know its story. Is it really the worst care ever sold? (Vuic tries to convince you NO). How did it become the American anti-icon we know? Well a big part of it was a "Communist Maket Economy" and at least a big a part of it was Malcom Briklin. An American entrepunere who really doesn't know when to quit and Vuic tries to convenience you has never succeeded at anything.

Why could anyone think a Yugoslav car could work in the 80s? What happened to all those Yugos (here's a hint, some hipsters turned them into "art").

If you like books about economics, if you like books about cars, and if you are not an expert in either of those, I think you'll like it. It's written for the masses and I recommend. ( )
  fulner | Aug 12, 2015 |
I've always been fascinated by "loser" cars: my first car was a Studebaker, and I've also owned a Renault 10, a Chevrolet Metro, and a Daewoo Leganza. Rooting for the underdog or just really suck at choosing cars, I don't know. Anyway, this history of the Yugo was entertaining, well-written, and had lots of background. Who knew Malcolm Bricklin could be so conniving? Could the Yugo have been saved if Yugoslavia hadn't imploded? Probably not, but it might have lasted longer. If you're fascinated by automotive history, Balkan history, or the way US business worked in the 1980's-90's, this is a book you need to read. ( )
  grothenberger | Apr 11, 2013 |
Fascinating in the much the same way that gawkers find the wreckage of an auto collision fascinating. ( )
  Eagleduck86 | Aug 21, 2011 |
While the Yugo may remain a joke, this book is not, as Jason Vuic examines the events that led to an ultra-cheap people's car being billed as a world-beater in the United States, only for the whole project to rapidly come apart at the seams. Much of this story is that of Malcolm Bricklin, an unsinkable business operator with more grasp of "strategery" then of sound analysis, but who came close to hitting the mark with this machine. The reality is that the window of opportunity for an "econobox" to make it in America in the Eighties was narrow, and in retrospect it was Hyundai of South Korea who managed the transition.

The ironic thing is that even if this car had been more successful the whole exercise probably would have failed due to friction between the Serbian producers and their American partners, never mind the whole country of Yugoslavia being overtaken by events.

Be that as it may if you read this book you'll learn a great deal about the realities of what it takes to bring a car to market, you'll take a stroll down Cold War memory lane, and you'll be amazed at all the Yugo jokes the author has managed to accumulate. ( )
3 vote Shrike58 | May 21, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
Mr Vuic spends rather too long on the business intricacies of the American end of the story. Tantalisingly underexplored is the clash between the low productivity, collectivist and decisionless culture of the Zastava plant and the go-getting American partners, determined, however quixotically, to make the Yugo into a world-beater.
added by Shortride | editThe Economist (Jan 14, 2010)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809098911, Hardcover)

Six months after its American introduction in 1985, the Yugo was a punch line; within a year, it was a staple of late-night comedy. By 2000, NPR’s Car Talk declared it “the worst car of the millennium.” And for most Americans that’s where the story begins and ends. Hardly. The short, unhappy life of the car, the men who built it, the men who imported it, and the decade that embraced and discarded it is rollicking and astounding, and one of the greatest untold business-cum-morality tales of the 1980s. Mix one rabid entrepreneur, several thousand “good” communists, a willing U.S. State Department, the shortsighted Detroit auto industry, and improvident bankers, shake vigorously, and you’ve got The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History.
Brilliantly re-creating the amazing confluence of events that produced the Yugo, Yugoslav expert Jason Vuic uproariously tells the story of the car that became an international joke: The American CEO who happens upon a Yugo right when his company needs to find a new import or go under. A State Department eager to aid Yugoslavia’s nonaligned communist government. Zastava Automobiles, which overhauls its factory to produce an American-ready Yugo in six months. And a hole left by Detroit in the cheap subcompact market that creates a race to the bottom that leaves the Yugo . . . at the bottom.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:28 -0400)

Brilliantly re-creating the amazing confluence of events that produced the Yugo, Yugoslav expert Jason Vuic uproariously tells the story of the car that became an international joke.

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