Home » Friday Grab Bag: 1987 Yugo GV vs 1981 Ford Mustang

Friday Grab Bag: 1987 Yugo GV vs 1981 Ford Mustang

Sbsd 11 10 2023
ADVERTISEMENT

Good morning, and happy Friday to all you fine citizens of Autopia. It’s been a long week, I’m too drained to come up with a clever theme, and this week’s cars don’t really lend themselves to a runoff. So instead, I’m just featuring two cars that I spotted a while ago, that I couldn’t match up to anything else. They don’t really have anything in common with each other, either. I mean, they’re both hatchbacks, I guess, and both four-speed sticks, so there’s that.

Yesterday, we pitted East against West in a battle of German engineering, and the results were predictable: the flat-black BMW beat the pants off the tiny two-stroke terror. I’m with you all: I desperately want to drive a Trabant someday, but I don’t feel any compulsion to spend money on one. Especially not thirteen grand. The 2002 seems a little pricey, but the seller sounds pretty motivated, so there may be a deal to be made.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Also, just a quick note about the prices of cars in general: please remember that I’m not the one setting the prices. I just show you what I find, and sometimes they’re a steal, and sometimes they’re highway robbery. Honestly, I rarely check values on the cars I post, because I’m not actually shopping for a good deal. I’m shopping for a good story. So don’t shoot the messenger, okay?

Screen Shot 2023 11 09 At 5.35.00 Pm

With that in mind, let’s meet today’s contenders. One of these cars has been for sale for ages; I’ve seen its posting come and go, and reappear a few weeks later with a lower price. It still seems expensive to me, but I’ll let you be the judge. The other, well, it’s hard to assign a value to it. Let’s check them out.

ADVERTISEMENT

1987 Yugo GV – $3,250

00z0z Hlojrhxs33v 0ci0t2 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: 1.1 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed manual, FWD

Location: Austin, TX

Odometer reading: 4,400 miles (really!)

Runs/drives? Yep

ADVERTISEMENT

Yes, I know. Yesterday I subjected you all to a Trabant, today it’s a Yugo. Hey, we’re stepping up in the world, at least. Yes, this is still a cheap crappy little car built in an Eastern Bloc country, but it has “good bones,” as they say. The Zastava Koral (to give this car its rest-of-the-world name) was, like so many Soviet-era cars, based on a Fiat design, in this case the 127/128. It was imported to the US by Malcolm Bricklin (of Subaru 360 and Bricklin SV-1 fame), who was already importing Fiat X1/9s and 2000 Spyders after Fiat’s withdrawal from the US market, so it was kind of a natural fit.

00p0p Bc9ph8hsq30 0ci0t2 1200x900

The base-model Yugo GV (which I just now learned stood for “Great Value”) was powered by a 1.1 liter overhead cam four, designed for Fiat by a guy with one of my all-time favorite names, Aurelio Lampredi. This version is a bit weak-sauce, but a 1.3 or 1.5 liter engine from a Fiat Strada or X1/9 bolts right in, and plenty of performance parts exist to wake it up. It has a simple four-speed gearbox, but again, a five-speed Fiat gearbox is an easy swap if you so desire. This one runs fine as-is, but the seller says it needs a little shot of starter fluid if it has been sitting too long.

00l0l A1ayjkvzvx6 0t20ci 1200x900

And sitting is something this car has done a lot of. It’s from Yugo’s best sales year, one of almost 50,000 sold in 1987, and it is almost certainly the lowest-mileage one left. It has only 4,400 miles on the odometer, and the seller says they have documents to back it up. Some ultra-low-mileage cars look like new, but this is not one of them. The seat upholstery seems to have held up well, but all the plastic inside is cracked and sun-faded.

ADVERTISEMENT

00p0p Jekjbpicl8k 0t20ci 1200x900

The paint doesn’t look great either; I get the feeling that this car was parked outside for most of its long slumber. It wasn’t preserved, I don’t think, as much as it was ignored. It deserved better.

1981 Ford Mustang – $2,500

00v0v Jvxi95lngwu 09p07m 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: 2.3 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed manual, RWD

Location: Vancouver, WA

ADVERTISEMENT

Odometer reading: unknown

Runs/drives? Very well, it sounds like

From a car that has seen virtually no use, we go now to a car that has seen perhaps too much. This early Fox-body Mustang has been extensively modified to survive “the 2024 Gambler or Armageddon, whichever comes first,” according to the seller. It has a jacked-up suspension, a beefed-up drivetrain, and the requisite appearance mods that make Gambler- and Lemons-type race cars so much fun. You just can’t take this thing seriously, and that’s kind of the point.

00v0v 32nvlkbzf9l 0ak07k 1200x900

It features the most basic drivetrain available in the Mustang in 1981: a “Lima” 2.3 liter four-cylinder and a four-speed stick. The engine is new, and is fed by a Weber carburetor and exhales through a tube-type header. The ignition, fuel, and cooling systems have been beefed-up to survive the rigors of 500 miles of barely-there roads; it should all be plenty reliable for normal driving if you were so inclined.

ADVERTISEMENT

00q0q 7twhtl2m7sw 0ak07k 1200x900

Despite the Gambler bric-a-brac and the flat paint, this actually looks like a fairly solid Fox body. It’s not rusty, nor has it had any altercations with trees or rocks during its Gambler service. All the glass is intact, and although we don’t get any photos of the interior, what’s visible though the windows looks at least serviceable.

00s0s Chcjaczxdfz 0ak07k 1200x900

Personally, I’m not a fan of the Mad Max cosplay look; I’d want to repaint this in some brighter colors – some famous race livery. Not Gulf or Martini; those are overdone. Alitalia, maybe. Or Bill Elliott’s old Coors NASCAR livery would be cool too.

Obviously, neither of these is a serious choice. You’ve got a car that never was much good to begin with that has been sitting derelict for most of its life, and another that has been made more reliable than it ever was, but also now sticks out like a sore thumb in traffic. But either one could be fun to mess around with. So set aside reason for now, and just vote with your gut. What’ll it be?

ADVERTISEMENT

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
64 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
7 months ago

I went with the mustang strictly be it’s cheaper, I have no desire to own any of these really.

Timothy Swanson
Timothy Swanson
7 months ago

I think the Mustang will burn longer, so Mustang. But still, I hesitated because I think the Fox Body is the ugliest Mustang of all time – the Mustang II was better looking and it isn’t close. And this specimen has the same slow powertrain as the slowest II. And it’s still probably less of a money pit as the Yugo.

Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
7 months ago

All your points are valid, especially about the Fox Mustang being uglier than the Mustang II. But I just can’t imagine hating myself so much that I’d spend money on a Yugo, even a low miles cream puff that was actually garaged. They were objectively terrible cars. The Ford, at least, has endless aftermarket support, and its current state tickles me no end.

Jim Stageman
Jim Stageman
7 months ago

Back in 1987, I stopped by the Yugo dealership to check them out. The salesman discouraged me from test driving one, cause I drove up in a fancy 1980 Toyota Corolla.

Ricki
Ricki
7 months ago

The Mustang looks fun, no doubt, but the Yugo is, my guess, eminently more drivable. It was a bit of a coinflip for me, but the Yugo wins just on the case that less custom work has been done, and therefore is easier to work on without headaches (theoretically.)

Lotsofchops
Lotsofchops
7 months ago

It’s basically down to choosing which loses me less money. Could probably part out the Mustang and maybe recoup your purchase.

Matt Woods
Matt Woods
7 months ago

$3250 is probably what that Yugo went out the door for new. They started out at $4k, but I seem to recall them being heavily discounted not too long later.
I’ll take the Mustang. No idea what to do with it, but the likelihood of someone laughing with you instead of at you is much higher.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago

> It wasn’t preserved, I don’t think, as much as it was ignored. It deserved better.

I dunno. Some cars are just better off dead.

Starhawk
Starhawk
7 months ago

Yugo. Again, no contest.

What can I say? I like strange cars and I cannot lie 😀

Stephen Reed
Stephen Reed
7 months ago

My biggest issue with the Mustang is that it’s a 4 cylinder. I would either drop a 351 or 460 in it… Or just go along with the ridiculousness of the outside and find a way to fit a 7.3L Powerstroke in it because at this point… Why not?

Oldskool
Oldskool
7 months ago

Couldn’t imagine actually “choosing” a Yugo. 4400 miles might be for a reason. Wonder how many miles per gallon of starting fluid? But if there weren’t any other decent shape small FWD cars available, I would choose it over the Mad Max pony car. The Yugo is original enough, and the body is in good shape. I don’t care about faded paint. And the Yugo is simple enough, I could tinker with it as needed, and enjoy rowing the gears as a cheap little local runner. If it quits I can walk home and tow it with my Jeep. I just wouldn’t attempt any long trips with it. Which means no Radwood, but I got other cars for that. And won’t be taking it up over the bridge and sending myself into the straits.

Last edited 7 months ago by Oldskool
David Escargot
David Escargot
7 months ago

I’d take that mustang on hot rod drag week… and some gravel roads nearby… leave it how it comes… maybe adjust the paint a bit

Myk El
Myk El
7 months ago

At those prices…I can’t even say yes to either with imaginary money. Not today.

Brockett Hudson
Brockett Hudson
7 months ago

Buy ‘um both, take the engine, trans and tires off that abomination of a Fox, somehow bodge them into the Yugo, pull the doors off…. boom! It’s Mercedes’ next Gambler car!

Seriously has anyone ever seen a Yugo at a Gambler?

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
7 months ago

I’d take the perverse choice of Yugo and track down the Grass Roots Motorsports article about autocrossing a Yugo. Failing which, Hayabusa swap

Scott Ashley
Scott Ashley
7 months ago

If you push Yugo. I voted for the mustang for that reason

Primer
Primer
7 months ago

The Mustang seems to have something about butts painted on the door. I voted for it just for that. Also I have deep and profound skepticism about the accuracy of the Yugo’s odometer.

Bob Tenney
Bob Tenney
7 months ago
Reply to  Primer

Not every car can make it to 4500 miles.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
7 months ago

I’m an idiot so I chose the Yugo.

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
7 months ago

Set them both on fire and walk away.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
7 months ago
Reply to  Beasy Mist

☜╮(´ิ∀´ิ☜╮)

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
7 months ago

My initial reaction to the Mustang was, “what in the world is this?” and all ready to vote Yugo. But after reading the post, the Fox really is kinda cool in a ridiculous, absurd way, so I’m going ‘Stang. I’d do a racing livery as well, but I’m thinking Davey Allison’s NASCAR Havoline white/gold/black scheme would look good here.

Marathag
Marathag
7 months ago
Reply to  ColoradoFX4

John Player F1 if into Black and Gold

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
7 months ago

No, I am not going to play and you can’t make me. These are both terrible.

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
7 months ago

Mustang. Mostly because I wouldn’t feel bad about driving or damaging it. I’d feel bad driving the yugo in case something happened because there are so few left. The mustang is already messed up so who cares. Plus it has a big sub in the trunk and that just seems period correct. The few well worn early fox bodies in my high school lot all had subs. Actually, it was the mid 90’s, every student owned car had subs.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
7 months ago

I have a Yugo, love the silly thing, but the market (yes, there is a market!) on these has gotten kind of stupid the last couple years. I’m glad I bought mine when I did.

I know the interior materials are cheap as hell but this thing has led a hard life, from the looks of it. There are plenty of nicer ones out there, but remember there’s only about 1000 registered Yugos left in the country, so you have to be patient and ready to act fast, nice ones are snapped up pretty quickly in this internet age.

I may have just talked myself into voting for it after all, but it still looks icky to me.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

> you have to be patient and ready to act fast, nice ones are snapped up pretty quickly

Why

Lokki
Lokki
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Quite seriously, with only 1,000 left, how hard would it be to score a decent interior? I assume that the necessary belts, hoses, and gaskets (i.e. all of them) are still available.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
7 months ago

When this day started, I’d never have guessed I would be voting for a freaking Yugo over a four-eyed Fox, but here I am doing so. Were that Fox body not turned into a Gambler car in such questionable ways it would get my vote, but I’d rather be embarrassed to be seen in that Yugo than the post-apocalyptic PVC pipe goofiness that is going on with that Mustang.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
7 months ago

I’ll go for the Yugo here.

It is a natural piece of shit. It left the factory as a fully formed and realized turd. It was the natural bowel movement from the Zastava factory after digesting a dinner of Fiat and cooked with the engineering “no-how” of communist era Eastern Europe.

The Ford, on the other hand, had to be turned into a turd.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
7 months ago

I’ll pass today 🙁

64
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x