Zastava Yugo
As Yugoslavia was plunged into civil war, the Yugo became a car without a country
In 1990, Zastava begins work on Project 104, a sedan version of the 5-door Florida. Meanwhile, that year's Belgrade International Motor Show sees the launch of a 60-horsepower Florida 1.1 which places particular emphasis on economy. Greek distributors take an interest in the car that much of Western Europe already knows as the "Sana," and an export agreement is signed.

Over in America, Yugos for 1991 are offered with larger gasoline tanks, and improved seats and steering.

Front and rear tracks are wider, to 51.8 and 52 inches, respectively.

Americans prefer automatics. Zastava responds. An initial batch of 485 automatic Yugo GV Plus models are shipped to the U.S.

1990 Yugo Florida sedan concept - Project 104
In 1990, Zastava began work on Project 104, a sedan version of the 5-door Florida
The Florida is due to join the Yugo Stateside. Exports to Western Europe have proven successful, and Zastava is cautiously optimistic.

U.S. testing has begun.

Yet war is brewing in the Balkans, and it threatens the very life of one of Yugoslavia's most famous exports: a car built with parts produced across the Yugoslav republics.

The Yugo suddenly finds itself named for a country that no longer exists; it is, effectively, a car without a country, and looks set to share the destiny of Yugoslavia.

For the moment, at least, production stops. When the dust settles, Yugo of America has faded from view.

Zastava Yugo Cabrio
Zastava gave America its most affordable convertible ever, complete with electric top
"It's a shame," offers Motor Trend.

"America needs a car like the Yugo."
Between 1985 and 1991, 145,511 Yugos have found homes in the United States.

Among the final units are 100 Yugo Cabrios, trickling through the production line at a slow pace due to the impending political upheaval. They are, today, prized as collector models.

The little $8,000 Cabrio is the result of a Zastava pet project inspired by American buyers' desires for an affordable, fun car.

An inch taller than its hatchback sister, the Cabrio is identical in every other dimension. Particular care has gone into buffering the windshield against scuttle shake. While weight remains under 2,000 pounds, this most affordable convertible ever sold in America features an electric folding top; a heated, glass rear window; automatic folding quarter windows, and an aero body kit, incorporating fog lamps.

A 1.3-liter engine sits under the hood, carbureted (as in the Yugo GVX) or fuel-injected (GV Plus).

The Cabrio remains something of an image car, and sporadic foreign orders for it have continued. Zastava makes it even today, as a special-order model.

Zastava Yugo 101 Skala
Zastava in 1991 celebrated a milestone, as the millionth Zastava 101 (now dubbed the Yugo 101 Skala) left the line
In 1991, however, the Cabrio's optimism is dramatically at odds with reality. Through 1998, as war and sanctions take hold, many of Zastava's 1,407 suppliers across Yugoslavia; 403 suppliers located outside the country, and 123 suppliers for Zastava Kamioni ("Zastava Trucks") are replicated in Serbia.

"Practically the entire inside of the Zastava Yugo was brought in from Croatia," recalls Branimir Soldatović, Zastava's director at the time.
"Among our other suppliers was Iskra from Kranj.

"When all of those contacts broke apart, everything went downhill."
A difficult decade, in which a proud company's very existence would be threatened, lay ahead. By the end of the 1990s, Zastava would find itself in a position not dissimilar to that of BMW; Toyota, and Volkswagen in 1945. These famed automakers produced pots and pans; fish paste, and nothing, respectively, until (in the case of Toyota and Volkswagen, in particular) serious foreign investment restored their fortunes.

Through ingenuity and sheer force of will, Zastava's lines would continue to run.
(C) 2007-2008, Miroslav Pačić & Dragan Romčević. All rights reserved/ sva prava zadržana. Please call or e-mail for terms of use.
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