Zastava 45 - Yugo
Debuting on October 2nd, 1980, the Yugo would become one of the world's most famous budget cars
By 1980, the Zastava Group counts 48,164 employees; 120 suppliers, and an annual production capacity of 200,000 cars. 150,000 people across Yugoslavia are directly connected to Zastava, while the jobs of 500,000 depend on the company. More than 2.3 million cars have been built.

Zastava's 240,000m2 sales and service network, already the widest and most organized in Yugoslavia, goes from strength to strength in this decade. In 1980, Zastava counts more than 120 dealers and about 200 authorized service outlets across the country. The average Zastava driver is no further than 50 kilometers from the nearest dealership, matching the standards of the best Western European manufacturers.

At official dealerships, 14,000 specialists annually welcome 20 million servicing visits. More than 1,000 complete Zastava service training each year, a process which sees mechanics and specialists return regularly for retraining in the latest automotive and servicing technology.

On October 2nd, 1980, the car that the world will soon know as, simply, Yugo, debuts.

Small in its dimensions (just 3,496 millimeters/ 139 inches long; 54.1 inches tall and 1,542 millimeters/ 60.7 inches wide, with a 2,158-millimeter/ 84.6-inch wheelbase), but large on interior space, it is promptly named Yugoslavia's Car of the Year, 1981. Demand is strong from the start. More than three-quarters of a million will be built.

The Yugo is initially launched with a 903cc SOHC four-cylinder, producing 45 horsepower at a heady 6,100 revolutions per minute, as the Zastava 45 (later, Yugo 45 and Yugo Junior).

Zastava Yugo production
Demand for the Yugo was strong from the start
Zastava produces 180,529 cars in 1981. 211,372 will leave the line in 1982, as employment climbs to 50,000.

In 1984, as Zastava sponsors the 16th Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, its newest car receives a new heart: the 128/ 101 line's free-revving 55 hp (40.5 kW), 77.5 Nm, 1,116cc SOHC 1.1-liter engine, with bore and stroke of 80 mm x 55.5 mm. Electronic contactless ignition ensures easier starts in low temperatures, and reduces fuel consumption while improving emissions performance.

Both 903cc and 1,116cc engines - under the hoods of the Yugo 45 and 55, respectively - feature aluminum heads; 9.2:1 compression, and double-barrel carburetors.

Both are mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox, driving a 3.76:1 final ratio. First stands at 3.58:1; 2nd, 2.23:1; 3rd, 1.45:1; 4th, 1.04:1, and Reverse, at 3.71:1.

Zastava - 1984 Winter Olympics sponsor
Zastava sponsored the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo
True to their Italian roots, the motors beg for high revolutions, and move the ~1,800lb car rather better than expected, while using 5.86 and 5.9 liters of gasoline (respectively) per 100 kilometers, at 90 km/h.

Both Yugos feature front-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-independent suspension, by now a Zastava hallmark, with MacPherson struts; coil springs, and stabilizer up front, and struts with (unusually) transverse leaf springs in the rear. Rack-and-pinion steering takes about 3.4 turns, lock-to-lock; a touch slower than expected, but maneuverability is nonetheless impressive, partly thanks to a rear track which, at 51.7 inches wide, is 0.2-inches wider than car's front track. The Yugo can turn around in a radius of 9.5 meters.

The Yugo 55's power-assisted front disc brakes measure nine inches; rear drums, seven.

Yugo interior
Small on the outside, big on the inside, said Zastava. So it was
45L and 55L models bring softer front and rear spring and damping rates to the Yugo, and a wider rear track for a more comfortable, more stable ride, while several areas of plastic across the dashboard and door panels are replaced with cloth. The improvements are part of Zastava's preparation for entry to the world's largest car market.

In 1984, automobile entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin, the man who in the previous decade launched Subaru in America, has begun testing the U.S. market for Zastava vehicles, now branded as Yugo, in Verplanck, New York.

Back in Kragujevac, Zastava has by the mid-80s made a series of changes to the Zastava 45/ Yugo's original design, fitting a larger alternator, and extending the fuel-tank filler neck while changing the position of the battery, to boost safety in side impacts. A new ignition distributor with vacuum advance and a modified carburetor contribute to further improvements in fuel economy and emissions. Rust prevention is done by cataphoresis painting, a process which immerses the body into a bath of water-thinned paint, the better to completely cover its surface.

Yugo of America: 145,511 sold... (more)

Yugos can still be seen running around in the 'States, and a cursory Internet search will reveal several message boards dedicated to keeping U.S. Yugos alive.

Comments on the Yugo, from American owners ... (more)

The Yugo also proves popular in the United Kingdom, where Zastava vehicles are imported by Zastava (GB) Ltd.

Yugo UK/ Zastava GB Ltd
Yugo UK

In 1981, the Zastava 101 arrives in the United Kingdom as the Yugo 311 (1.1-liter 3-door); 313 (1.1-liter 5-door); 511 (1.3-liter 3-door), and 513 (1.3-liter 5-door).

The Zastava 128 is imported as the 3-door Yugo 411 and 4-door 413 in 1984.

In 1983, the Yugo 45 is introduced to Britain. The 55 model folllows, and in 1986 these models are redesignated the 45A and 55A. The 65A GLX completes the range.

Yugo Florida/ Sana: A larger, five-door sister

Yugo Florida with JAT (Yugoslav Airlines)
The Yugo Florida was Zastava's best car to date, and its most independent effort
Zastava in 1986 produces 175,462 cars; in 1987, 213,286.

Yugo America Inc. president William Prior predicts a U.S. market for between 1.1 and 1.5 million entry-level cars by 1991. Plans are made for the Yugo to be joined in the 'States by a larger, five-door sister: the $7,500-$8k Yugo Florida.

In the mid-80s, a group of Zastava engineers set about creating the company's best car to date. Using Fiat facilities and working from a Fiat Tipo proposal by Giorgetto Giugiaro, they come up with a roomy, clean design with a 0.32 coefficient of drag.

The first production Floridas leave Kragujevac lines on October 2nd, 1988. The name is a reference to the company's success in the U.S., although the car wears the Sana moniker in some European markets. The future looks bright for Zastava and its suppliers, such as Teleoptik, which have invested so much in the new car's development. Rumor has it that a sedan version is in the works.

The Yugo Florida/ Sana: Giugiaro lines...  (more)

Yugo Uno, produced under Fiat license
2,620 Yugo Unos were made under Fiat license
Zastava begins producing the Fiat Uno under license in 1988. 2,620 are made through 1994.

1989 is Zastava's record year, as Kragujevac turns out 180,950 vehicles.

To this, add additional, off-site production of 42,614 cars and 4,827 trucks.

118,237 Yugos are produced that year, a record in itself. 26,777 vehicles are exported.

The Kragujevac factory boasts an annual capacity of 220,000 vehicles.

53,357 people are employed at Zastava, while production incorporates 280 facilities across 130 towns in Yugoslavia.

Zastava's 3.5 millionth vehicle is produced on September 20th, 1989.

By 1990, the automotive market in the former Yugoslavia accounts for 160,000 units per year.

This; Zastava's export business; the new Florida, and the technology transfer from Zastava's Fiat Uno license should have ensured success. 1991, however, would bring new challenges.
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