Yugo production wound down in 2008, but Zastava's little cars still engender plenty of love, and fans of the brand recently converged on a Belgrade park with their cars. To be sure, Yugos never rolled out of the Kragujevac factory in the candy-flavored hues of some of the lovingly modified and restored rides that showed up, but Zastava and fans of its cars all but burst with pride.
You're not likely to see a gathering of Yugos, at least one so large, here in the States, but on a May day in Belgrade, all sorts of cars produced throughout the company's history, from its earliest "Fica" model up to the latest Zastava 10, gathered in one spot for this giant Yugo party. Maybe once you peruse the massive gallery, you'll be so inspired that you start scouring for sale ads, looking for your own Yugo to take to a picnic.
There were Yugos of all colors, with engines from the standard, 903cc 4-cylinder through to 2-liter Lancia swaps. They came from as far away as Niš, in Serbia's deep south, and from Croatia. There were fićas, Zastava's first car, dating back to 1955. There were Zastava 101 and 128 models, which brought front-wheel drive to Yugoslavia's roads back in 1971. And there were more modern Zastava cars, including the Florida, which, with its 100-horsepower Peugeot engine, was through the end of production in 2008 the fastest sub-$8,000 car in the world.
Parked beside the Dunav river, drivers sat around a barbecue, swapping parts and stories.
"The attendance at this event is testament to the enduring story of the world's most famous postwar budget car," said Ognjen Radić, who organized the meet.
"The Yugo is no longer built, but the Zastava story – the story of 55 years of affordable motoring - lives on," he added.
Volunteers from the Zastava Fan Club (http://www.zfc.rs) organized parking and music, and provided refreshments.
For more than fifty-five years, since 1953, the Zastava marque has been known for affordable, durable vehicles. Zastava specializes in cars priced under 10,000 euros, cars which promise easy and unbeatable value. Zastava Automobili (http://www.zastavanacionale.com) has entered into a joint-venture agreement with Fiat S.p.A. of Italy. The agreement will see the production of a new A-segment model in Zastava's hometown of Kragujevac, Serbia, by 2010.
For more on Zastava history, in English, please see
The Zastava Fan Club counts 1,750 members from across the ex-Yugoslav republics and from around the world. Membership is free, at http://www.zfc.rs.