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Monday, March 29, 2010

A Yugo -- and Serendipty -- in San Francisco

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 7:30 AM

In mid-conversation, your humble narrator recently bellowed "A YUGO!" I hastily pulled my own car into a driveway and ran -- as in not walking but running -- to snap the photographs below.

Nostalgia for a crappier, poorly run era... - ALL PHOTOS   |   JOE ESKENAZI
  • All photos | Joe Eskenazi
  • Nostalgia for a crappier, poorly run era...

But it was once I got back in the car, apologized profusely, and set off that things got weird. Because what should come on All Things Considered not two minutes later? A story about Yugos.

It was a radio interview with Jason Vuic, author of The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History. (Amusingly, the term "wheezing shitbox" is included in the book's in-house publicity under the "praise" section). Charmingly, the interview was largely conducted within a Yugo motoring through the streets of Washington, D.C. And it was a treasure trove of facts about a vehicle once aptly described as "a car stereo plus a firewall consisting of old comic books."

Bye for now, Yugo...
  • Bye for now, Yugo...

For example, fewer than 1,000 of the 250,000 Yugos sold in this country between 1985 and '92 remain on the road. That means this San Francisco specimen is truly an outlier; it has outlived 99.7 percent of its colleagues.

Bye for now, Yugo...
  • Bye for now, Yugo...

Yugos' fate was sealed by two unpleasant entities: Consumer Reports and genocidal war. The former suggested to readers they'd be better off buying a used car than a new Yugo (ouch). And the latter destroyed the car's namesake country and made it impossible for the company to obtain its variant parts, which were drawn from Serbia, Bosnia, etc.

Thus endeth the Yugo's reign of terror. Not only must all good things come to an end -- bad things end, too. But here in San Francisco, it appears the Yugo's days are not yet done. If this is your car -- or you know who it belongs to -- write us here. We've got some questions for you. And we'll even buy you a beer. Or trade you a 12-pack for your car.

Bye for now, Yugo...
  • Bye for now, Yugo...

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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