I picked this book up after fellow cannonballer Emmalita mentioned it as an example of my favorite genre: the failure narrative. I absolutely adore reading about fiascos and how they came to be, and my fellow pajiban steered me right in recommending it.
The book is an interesting exploration of how the eponymous car came to be a national punchline. I know nothing about cars aside from what Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond tell me, and as I was in single digits during the Yugo’s heyday, the exploration was a mystery to me in a way it may not have been to, say, my father. I remember plenty of Yugo jokes in pop culture without being able to point to any specific design flaw being mocked, so it was interesting to read that while some of its poor reputation was deserved – inconsistent production, overpromotion by an unscrupulous distributor, razor thin profit margins preventing further development of the brand – the car was in some ways a victim of the momentum of its own bad press.
Vuic points out that a safety test removed a spare tire that was partially intended to act as a shock absorber, and describes how a Yugo which famously blew off the Mighty Mac bridge was more attributable to the design of the bridge rather than the car. The fractioning of Yugoslavia in the late 90s was simply the final nail in the coffin, and learning more about this piece of history was enlightening.
Ultimately, the Yugo was an interesting failure in that its flaws were real, but their extent was exaggerated to the point of hyperbole. In another world, the Yugo might have been a bad buy, but one you could make today, were it not such a good punchline.