Saturday, November 22, 2008

End of the line for the Yugo

It outlived the country it was named after, but time has finally caught up with the venerable Yugo automobile.

The BBC was on hand as the last few examples of the bargain priced hatchback rolled off the assembly line in Serbia. Well, they would have been on hand, except work was delayed because the production line broke down, something that apparently happens quite often these days.

Often the butt of jokes (why does the Yugo have a rear window defroster? To keep your hands warm while you push), when production stared in 1980, the car was the pride of socialist Yugoslavia - an inexpensive auto that everyone could afford, a modern-day Model-T. It was exported to more than 70 countries, including the United States. Even this past year I would often see one Yugo in a neighborhood in Manhattan (though it never did seem to move…). Amazingly, officials in Serbia estimate that one in three Serbs have at one time owned a Yugo.

And even though production of the Yugo is stopping the factory that makes them will go on. After a much-needed modernization (amazingly Yugos were hand-built because upgrading to an automated production line was deemed too expensive, thus giving the Yugo one thing in common with Ferraris and Rolls-Royces) the factory is slated to start producing Fiats in 2010.

Yugo poster from wikipedia.
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