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

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  512 ratings  ·  91 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 262 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Hill and Wang (first published 2010)
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Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
"The Yugo was a 1980's consumer fad, the automotive equivalent of Cabbage Patch Kids . . . but with a $3,990 price tag. [It] was the product of 80's excess, the strange if not surreal mixture of a [Malcolm] Bricklin sales pitch, a Wall Street investment firm, and a San Diego savings & loan, and status-crazed Americans who wanted cars with . . . well, status -- status the Yugo didn't have." -- page 212

Routinely voted one of the worst cars of all time, Vuic's The Yugo examines the "short,
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Nothing can make anything funnier then the fact that it actually happened... The Yugo was soled in America, the Yugo jokes at the beginning of each chapter are a cherry on the top. As someone who comes from the country of origin of this "car" I used to look at it as the greatest con ever achieved, which I still believe it is, but unfortunately it wasn't done by one of ours. The thing that makes this book so interesting and funny are the people behind this and all the lies they told during the ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
First the content: it felt a little padded, like there wasn't enough info on just the car for a whole book. The author would go on what seemed like long tangents about history or a particular person's biography before getting back to the main topic. For example, we got the life story of the guy who sold Bricklin the rights to sell the Yugo in CA, when a brief introduction and background would have sufficed. I was surprised to find out later that he wasn't really a major player in the story--not ...more
Jon Spoelstra
Apr 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Q. How do you double the value of your Yugo?
A. Fill the gas tank.

Q. How do you make a Yugo go faster?
A. Use a tow truck.

The Yugo was rated the worst car ever sold in the U.S. While there are many funny jokes about the Yugo, this is a serious story of how it came to the U.S.
D.M. Dutcher
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's not as much about the Yugo as a devastating send up of 80s business. If you know a friend who prattles on about the free market solving all ills, send him a copy of this book.

The Yugo was a cheap subcompact car that was notorious in its reputation for shoddy construction. This book gives some history how the idea of a Yugoslavian made version of an Italian car reached the states, and the problems they had with it. It also goes beyond to tell about the personalities behind it, like Malcolm
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Epic fun. Worth it for the Malcolm Bricklin stories alone--dude was a grifter for the ages. But the whole thing was a blast.
Amber Foxx
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A story is a comedy if it has a happy ending, a tragedy if not. If the plain, cheap, little slow-moving car from Yugoslavia is the hero of this story, it’s a tragedy, because the hero dies in the end. For the hopeful workers at Zastava who cried with joy when the first Yugo destined for America rolled off the assembly line, the demise of their dreams came along with the collapse of their country as well as the struggling car company that imported their product. And yet, there is a lot of comedy ...more
Neil Pierson
May 15, 2013 rated it liked it
It seems like the best way--maybe the only way--to make money on a Malcolm Bricklin-led investment is to be Malcolm Bricklin. Importing Yugos is the most famous example but not the only one. There was the Bricklin SV-1, the Electric Bicycle Company, FasTrack, Handyman franchises, the Proton automobile. Never heard of them? Hmmmm.

The idea was to sell a car that was extremely inexpensive and would provide basic transportation; a new car alternative to a good used car. Nothing wrong with that. At
Melissa McCauley
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Rebecca Johnson
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I am not sure if I selected this book because of the Yugo's iconic and flailing demonstration in the 1980s, because I am in the car business and have an interest in cars, or if it is because my dad bought and drove his red Yugo unit for about 2 years (until something broke that he couldn't get replaced) while our entire family laughed at him. But I really enjoyed the 80s fad driven history, the interest in foreign cars, and the mis-management of auto companies (by Malcolm Bricklin). I enjoyed ...more
Gil Bradshaw
Jun 27, 2011 rated it liked it
This is such a fun read. The Yugo is a famously terrible automobile. I don't know much about the history of the automobile nor about imports. I worked on the GM bankruptcy and learned about suppliers and distribution channels, but don't know about automobile history.

Embarrassingly, I have absolutely no working knowledge about the history of Yugoslavia or the soviet block. This book is great because it spells these issues out in very simple terms for a novice.

Also, the story is a lot of fun.
Ollie M.
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
The book the” Yugo The Rise and fall of the Worst Car in History,” by Jason Vuie to me is an ok book. I think this because as you start reading the book you begin realize that it repeats some information. But, the book does a great job of describing just why the Yugo failed. For example, it talks about how in the 80’s, when the Yugo was launched, the company was having management problems. Also, it talks about how they weren’t the best cars in quality and were hard to get parts for. I think that ...more
Meredith Jaffe
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Some difficulty following the political and money chain. Would have preferred to have read more about consumer experiences and the Yugo itself. Amazed, however, how Bricklin could wheel and deal.
Joanne  Manaster
Nov 25, 2011 marked it as to-read
I haven't read this yet, but what a hilarious premise! Adding it to the "to read" pile!
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure that a book about the history of a badly built car would be something I would enjoy, but I'm really glad I gave it a try. While this book is the story of the Yugo, that story covers a LOT of ground, and I found myself learning far more about the inner workings of the imported automobile business in America and the recent history of Yugoslavia and the countries that arose from its ashes than I had any reason to expect.

First, let's be clear about the title. While the Yugo is
Tod Davis
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I'd say this book was comprised of three key topics:
30% The Yugo
50% Malcolm Bricklin biography
20% Eastern Bloc countries' history and politics

To review each topic separately:
- Yugo - Funny and enjoyable. Interesting to learn about about the genesis of car, it's evolution, distribution and rollercoaster ride story. The story is so improbable in so many ways.

- Malcolm - Truth is stranger than fiction. Incredibly ballsy salesman who talked innumerable investors out of huge sums of money over and
Jim Fulner
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Closer to 2.5 but not because of the story it tells. This is my second Jason Vuic book (after THE YUCKS, about the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and while his books are well-researched, his prose is often repetitive and gets in the way of the narrative. There are some smart insights about the late 20th-century automotive industry and what was then known as Yugoslavia, as well as the origin stories of other American import brands such as Hyundai and Subaru.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid account of how the Yugo became such an iconic example of a 'bad car', at least in the US.
Sometimes a bit hard to follow with a lot of names and complex relations, but overall a very enjoyable and well-written account.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Lots of fun in a tale of international, interpersonal and industrial relations.
Jason Dow
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating history on a car that probably doesn't deserve it, more work was put into finding the fill historical context of the car then there was in constructing the cars themselves.
A little long winded and ponderous in spots... But on the whole it was interesting enough. My first foray into audiobooks.
Fred Fifield
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This is an enjoyable tale about perhaps the worst car ever sold in America.
Adam Christian
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
FUN and teaches a good amount of marketing and auto sales goodies. Plus jokes about Yugos, most of which I remembered! ...more
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
An entertaining history about the Yugo.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Last blog, I wrote about John McWhorter and his illustrious career. I don't know anything about Jason Vuic's career, but he's written a quite good book called The Yugo:The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History. He qualifies, or rather negates, his subtitle in the introduction, with a short list of cars worse than the Yugo, but goes on to make a case for the Yugo's status as popularly acknowledged worst car ever. This book is funny. I'm not a car guy, but I like Top Gear and I thought this ...more
NPR's Car Talk named The Yugo "the worst car of the millennium." It's considered by many to be a lemon. It was ugly and slow, and, compared to the rest of the market, not many were sold in the United States. Yet it has earned itself a place in the American Zeitgeist. For better or worse, The Yugo has become synonymous with failure. However, author Jason Vuic paints a clearer picture of The Yugo in his book. It's a story of communism, cars, 80's excess, and more.

I picked this book up expecting an
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it
What's the difference between a Yugo and a golf ball?

You can drive a golf ball more than 200 yards.

In addition to being a biography of the little car that couldn't, The Yugo is also a book in how not to run a business, and a buyer beware message for consumers. The excellent introduction hooks the reader in by talking about ways the Yugo is an icon for it's badness, and comparing it to several other "worst" cars. I didn't feel the other chapters I read had the same sensational storytelling -
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
If you're a "car person" with some knowledge of the turbulent and confusing (and mostly crappy-quality) world of cars in the 70s, you will enjoy the book.

If you understand Lucas electrical humor, Unsafe at Any Speed, why Fiats were so thrilling to drive and so s****y to own, why Italians should stop the design of a car before getting to motors and electronics, and appreciate the quirks of Ladas and Tatas, then there will be a lot of touch points for you here.

The hyperbolic title is there to
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Specialist in the history of former Yugoslavia and in 1997-98 was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia.

He has published articles and op-eds in the South Slav Journal, Serbian Studies, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Indianapolis Star. His next project is a book-length history of the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.