There are some cars that historically seem to always make the worst ever lists out there. Whether it be due to poor design or high rates of mechanical failures, some automakers fail big time with specific models. Despite their best efforts to impress the buying public, some cars just end up being the worst cars to own. One particular model that routinely finds itself among the most disappointing was made by a company you probably never heard of before today.
It began with an idea to stave off a looming bankruptcy
Back in 1984, Malcolm Bricklin was facing bankruptcy as his attempts at producing automobiles was failing miserably with his Pininfarina Spider and Bertone X1/9S, according to Car and Driver.
He began searching for a comeback vehicle that he could launch quickly and traveled all over Europe to find his diamond in the rough. It was his trip to a then communist Yugoslavia, with his pal and former Fiat executive, Tony Ciminera, that he laid eyes on the boxy hatchback with potential. The Yugo would be Bricklin’s winning car. Or would it?
The factory where the worst car would be made
Malcolm Bricklin saw potential beyond this plain-looking model car. He saw beyond the dismal factory conditions where workers frequently smoked and climbed throughout the vehicles with dirty shoes. Where most would have seen red flags, considering the factory also made machine guns, Bricklin saw an opportunity.
He recognized wholesale costs for each Yugo would be around $2,000. Bricklin could easily produce and ship these cars to the U.S. quickly and sell them for $3,995. He pounced on the idea, and the Yugo became available stateside in August of 1985.
Why the world considers this car the absolute worst ever
As luck would have it, poor quality production caught up with Yugo almost immediately. It was slow, performed terribly in crash tests, and fast became known as the dud car of the era.
One Toyota dealership tried to run a sale where consumers would get a free Yugo with every Toyota purchase. And even a complimentary gift, car buyers refused to take ownership of the Yugo.
The boxy hatchback died in 1992, and Yugo America fell into bankruptcy for a second time. It didn’t help parts were scarce due to the Yugoslav civil war and United Nations trade embargoes that made it hard to even fix a Yugo here in the states.
There are some who hail it an iconic legend
Sometimes a car becomes so well-known as the worst car ever, that it then almost garners a following of those who appreciate its failures as legendary. The Yugo did manage to sell big when it first arrived.
Some reports say 1,050 Yugo models sold in a single day, which was a substantial number for the ’80s. Jalopnik argues that the Yugo wasn’t a great car, but it may not deserve the title of the worst car ever made.
Considering you could buy one for around $4,000 when the average car prices back then were closer to $9,000, the Yugo was super affordable. It wasn’t fast, but it never tried to be. Sure, it had some quality issues, but so did a few others in the day, including the 1985 Chevrolet Chevette.
People still talk about the Yugo, and despite its terrible track record, it manages to garner attention. It was one car that proved to be a complete failure, helping it earn the title of worst car ever introduced. But over time, and despite its reputation, the Yugo still occasionally pops up for sale at the auctions. And enthusiasts who appreciate the story behind this horrible hatchback will say it’s more of a historical icon of the automotive industry.