Cold Start: The Turd In The Pool


Over the weekend I attended a little car meetup to benefit a local dog rescue shelter, and with my Pao still awaiting parts, decided to take my other exotic, my 1991 Yugo GV Plus, also my highest-horsepower car at a ravenous 67 hp. I managed to park it in a lineup that included a Ferrari, McLaren, lovingly restored classic Camaro, an AMG GT, and more. It was the equivalent of cramming a hubcap full of Hamburger Helper that you dropped on the way there onto a hors’ d’oeuvre table between foie gras and Waygu beef crostinis.

Still, I’m pleased to say lots of people spent time looking at the humble little orphaned car, enjoying its Yugoslav charms while ignoring the Ferrari right next door.

Then on the way out, I was encouraged to burn some rubber, and did, squeaking the tires in a comic chirp, and then immediately having to pull over as my throttle cable broke.


I jammed a pen into the throttle linkage to hold it at about 35% open, which was good enough to get home, even if it meant stoplights were loud. Kind of the perfect finish to it all, really.

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55 Responses

  1. Jason: “The throttle-cable on my Yugo broke, but I can fix it with an ordinary plastic pen!”
    *Crowd goes wild with applause*
    Ferrari/McLaren owner fueled by a desperate need to one-up a Yugo owner: “When my throttle-cable breaks, I have to fix it with a Mont Blanc fountain pen!”
    *Crowd glances over, goes back to idolising the Yugo*

    1. My dad had an IH cabover grain truck and the throttle return spring broke. You used the pedal to open the throttle and pulled a string to close it.
      I am of the opinion that everybody should drive an absolute shitbox for at least one year so they better appreciate a decent car.

      1. “I am of the opinion that everybody should drive an absolute shitbox for at least one year so they better appreciate a decent car.”

        In my very limited experience many Ferrari’s ARE absolute shitboxes. On the metric of reliability anyway.

    2. When the throttle cable broke on my Honda CB350, I had to improvise as well. Having two carbs made things challenging. I rigged a piece of cord to the throttle lever on each carb over the gas tank. With my hand under the throttle cord, I was able to control the two carbs by rotating my hand to balance them out andpulling up to accelerate. Interesting riding like a bucking bronco rider all the way home, yee ha! As an aside, my 11 year old grand kid rides bulls at local rodeos.

    1. Reminds me of an incident that happened in the 80s. My father-in-law was using a beat-to-snot early model Pinto as his commuter vehicle. We were going out to lunch in an affluent part of Los Angeles and moments after we pulled into a parking spot a gorgeous 930 Slantnose comes roaring into the space next to us. I was already out of the Pinto and as the driver and passenger got out of the 930 I chirped, “hey, make sure you don’t ding the doors on our car – it’s a classic!” The passenger thought it was hilarious, the douchebro driver not so much.

      I’m totally down with people bringing generally unloved cars/normie cars in unexpectedly good condition/forgotten cars to car shows. As far as I am concerned they are just as much a part of automotive history as any Ferrari or Corvette. Even if Jason wasn’t Jason, if he brings the Pao or the Yugo to a show I’m talking to him long before I talk to someone with a more “typical” offering.

        1. Pinto’s main competition was the Chevy Vega. Back in the day, I had a sister with a new Pinto, a brother with a newish Vega, and another brother with a beat to crap Pinto wagon. The Pinto was the better car.

  2. One weekend, I decided to take my Triumph Spitfire to the Saturday cruise-in here instead of my ’68 Olds, and it was awesome. Every time a couple walked by, the wife would make them stop and look at the Spitfire while the husband looked annoyed at the detour between all the GTOs and Hellcats.

    1. Similar story here- So my teenage daughter was interested in a boy and wrangled an invite to a flash mob type car show, knowing I took my car to shows- I couldn’t believe when my Jensen Healey got more teenagers attention than the supercharged skyline a few cars down!

  3. completely serious, the yugo is the most interesting vehicle in that entire lineup.

    there’s a ferrari store an hour from me. i routinely pass by it for work. it’s usually got a dozen gt3/gallardo/last years ferrari, or similar ‘stupid-money’ type cars parked our in front, usually in flashy “HAY, LOOK AT MEEEEEE” colors.

    chicagoland, having a number of ford production facilities, there’s zero shortage of mustangs-it’s a high likely hood if i threw a tennis ball near any main street, i’d hit a mustang. i enjoy toying with them in my 86. if i slowly rev out 1st, they get all egotistical and have to show me what REAL horsepower is. the funnier one’s are those that try to badger me into racing them, like i could keep up, ever.

    the alfa, my brother was the lead tech for a number of years in the area. seen it, ridden in it. 4c is more joyful.

    there’s a mclaren at a lawyers office that he daily drives it about 15 minutes from my house.

    amg? i’ve known a number of people over the years with them. they’re nice, if you’re into that sort of thing, they come off as simultaneously obnoxious and bland at the same time.

    but, i have only ever seen 1 other yugo ever. and it was driving the opposite way in traffic.

  4. I see the dirt on the Yugo windshield was part of the schtick. But I reckon that if you would’ve zipped it through a carwash and vacuumed it out prior to parking that communist beauty, you would have been really fending off the crowd.

    Everyone would have been asking you if “Is that the original paint?” and “do those numbers match for engine and body?”, “are those factory seats?” etc.

  5. Any time you can limp it home, it’s a win.

    And showing off and breaking something in the process is always funny to everyone else. I used to (briefly) work with a guy who bought an old beat-up Chevy truck and was trying to show off leaving work one day. He revved it up, dumped the clutch, and the front U-joint exploded. A chunk of it hit the boss’s car and put a big gash in the door. Nothing quite like getting fired and then having to wait for a tow…

  6. You know I’d be more interested in the Yugo than the Ferrari too.. sure it’s fast and it’s expensive but the Yugo has character, you didn’t bring it to show off, you brought it to share with others.

  7. Love that throttle fix – did the same exact thing on my gf’s VW Bug, long ago. I think the clutch went out soon after that, but let’s not talk about that.

    The Changli really would have blown peoples minds!

  8. Oddball cars are much more fun at shows than most exotics. It just cost money to have a Ferrari (and maybe a lot of money) but it takes dedication to keep old shitboxes humming.

      1. When I sold my ZX2 and bought something new, I reasoned that the monthly payment was the same, I just knew when it would be coming out of my account and wouldn’t lose my car for a couple days when I paid it.

  9. I remember the first time I saw a Yugo in person. I worked at a full-service gas station in East Texas, during the Summer of 1988.

    *NOTE* — For people who don’t live in New Jersey or Oregon, full-service gas stations were places back in the days of yore where someone came out and pumped your gas, checked the oil and tires, etc., for you.

    Anyway, one day a shiny new Yugo rolled up to the pump. It seemed to run well at that point in its life. I was actually impressed at how little thought and expense was invested in the build quality of a new car, which is a statement considering most of the cars I’d ever owned or worked on were products of Malaise Era Detroit.

    As an aside, My brother had an infamous string of run-ins with Yugos in Washington, D.C., in the late ’80s. He was involved in three different accidents in which three different Yugos driven by three different drivers crashed into him. He was starting to take it personally.

    Driving around the Beltway has always been an adventure.

    1. New Jersey doesn’t have full service gas stations. They’re just no-self-serve-allowed.

      The typical Jersey gas station attendant merely fills your tank 95% full from the wrong side of the car, scratches your paint, makes you wait forever to pay, and then spills some fuel on your fender. There is no glass cleaning, oil checking, or tire pressure checking.

      1. Good point. The term “full-service” extends beyond simply pumping gas. Another result of New Jersey’s policy is that people who never leave the state lack an important life skill.

        One of my wife’s coworkers, who lives outside Newark and commutes by train to the office in D.C., recently had to use a rental car in Virginia. My wife rode with her for part of the trip. They were in Western Virginia when they reached a quarter tank. My wife ended up filling the tank because her coworker had lived in New Jersey all her life and had no clue about how to do it.

  10. Definitely the most interesting car in that lineup. I probably see every other car in that lineup a couple of times a week but I haven’t seen a Yugo in years. I’d be right with those guys ignoring the Ferrari.

  11. Love the picture. Rode along with a BMW club to a massive C&C in Charlotte NC once. I ignored all the Ferraris and exotica and spent my time in the backfield amongst the oddballs. Pictures on now-dead phone and don’t remember details, except that I spent quite a while talking to a gentleman with a Citroen DM(I think) as I could relate to that more than the (some special model) McLaren everyone was drooling over.

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