Zastava's 128 ("osmica") of 1971 is the company's first front-wheel-drive car
Front-wheel drive. Transverse engines. Maximum space utilization. These are the advances that will characterize Zastavas of the 1970s.
The first Zastava of the new decade is the Zastava 128 ("osmica")
sedan, courtesy Dante Giacosa's Fiat 128. Zastava begins producing the car not long after it is voted Europe's Car of the Year, 1970.
The first examples leave Kragujevac lines on May 16th, 1971.
This is the company's first front-wheel-drive car, debuting eleven years before Toyota attempts a front-wheel-drive layout. It is also the first front-wheel-drive, unibody sedan with all-around, fully-independent suspension. The innovative solutions put forward by the 128 will change the family car for good. So advanced and influential is the car that Fiat will make it for seventeen years; Zastava, for thirty-two. "A driver's car with excellent brakes and outstanding handling,"
says Road & Track
of the car. Unlike rear-engined compacts such as Fiat's own 500; 600, and 950; Hillman's Imp; the Renaults 8 and 10; Simca's 1000, and the Volkswagen Beetle, the 128 is front-engined.
More than 230,000 Zastava 128s will be produced over thirty-two years
Moreover, contrary to Fiat's 124 and 125; Ford's period Escort; the Morris Minor; Opel's Kadett; Vauxhall's Viva, and various Datsuns and Toyotas, 128 is front-wheel-drive.
Neither Fiat nor Zastava ever look back.
The 128 has a brilliant new, rorty, overhead-camshaft engine. From a chassis point of view, it is the first car ever to field independent MacPherson struts all-around.
Chief Engineer Giacosa's new family car is a marvel not only of road manners and feisty durability (courtesy peppy SOHC motors), but of packaging.
In this respect, the 128 will be widely copied.
The Zastava 128: front-wheel-drive, a full eleven years before Toyota... (more)
Zastava 101 ("stojadin"
a legend is born. 1.5 million built - and counting
It does not take long for Zastava engineers to begin tweaking the 128.
Thanks to independent rear suspension featuring transverse leaf springs, the 128 offers excellent roadholding and space utilization.
Yet Zastava figures it could be more practical still.
As Zastava 128 sedans roll off the Yugoslav automaker's Kragujevac line, engineers amend the rear of the car to create a five-door version: the Zastava 101.
On October 15th
, 1971, the Zastava 101 becomes the first ever hatchback with engine and gearbox located astride each other.
It arrives a full three years before Fiat's own 128 3P and Volkswagen's Golf, assuring Zastava success as the company tenderly ventures into the markets of Western Europe.
Zastava's 101: Kragujevac adds what Fiat forgot... (more)
Zastava in 1973 makes 111,725 cars. A new agreement with Fiat in 1974 provides for closer cooperation on foreign markets.
The millionth Zastava is produced on December 15th
By 1975, Yugoslavia's appetite for cars has reached 300,000 per year. In 1977, Zastava's 30,000 employees produce 200,000 cars.
In May 1978, the number of passenger cars on Yugoslav roads surpasses 2 milllion, alongisde an estimated 22,000 buses; 300,000 trucks and other special vehicles, and more than 350,000 tractors in circulation. Every eighth of 22 million Yugoslavs is in possession of some type of transportation; every second of Yugoslavia's 5.5 million families enjoys either their own car, or some other type of motor vehicle.
In 1978, 243,639 Zastavas are made. In 1979 - when Kragujevac plant staff numbers 40,000 - 255,000 leave the line.
Zastava is now enjoying a turnover of about $2.2 million. It cooperates with about 200 Yugoslav enterprises. 500,000 people across the country are either directly or indirectly employed by Zastava.