Monday, May 3, 2010

The Worst Car in History?

Jason Vuic's fun new book The Yugo asks whether the Yugo was the worst car ever.  While certainly a debatable question, the Yugo was indeed one of the most well-known failures in automotive history.  Subject to the punchline of many jokes (a handful of which are compiled in this book), The Yugo was supposed to be a "people's car" - a new Volkswagon Beetle for the 80s - but after Consumer Reports declared  it to be a worse value than many used cars, the Yugo would become nobody's car.   Burdened with poor crash test ratings, a general fear of small cars, corporate mismanagement and poor build quality, the Yugo would only sell in the United States for 6 years, never reaching more than 50,000 units sold per year.

This breezy book tells the story of the Yugo, which is as much the story of a visionary/huckster named Malcolm Bricklin, whose various attempts at importing vehicles are chronicled here.  The story of the Yugo (whose name incidentally is not an abbreviation of Yugoslavia, but rather a translation of "south breeze") also parallels the story of Yugoslavia's move from Communist (non-Soviet bloc) country to Capitalist.  You don't have to be an auto lover to enjoy this book - if you enjoy pop culture and business history you may want to add this book to your list.

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