Yugo Sana Image

Yugo Sana

A brilliant example of Iron Curtain manufacturing quality.

The Yugo Sana, known in the United States as the Zastava Florida, was an attempt to produce a good quality, high specification car in Yugoslavia. The attempt failed dismally.

The car, launched in 1989, was loosely based on the Fiat Tipo, a decent enough car but way out of date, with an engine built under licence from Fiat, and despite a reasonable specification it was extremely cheap. This should have made it an overwhelming success but unfortunately quality was sadly lacking.

It's 1372cc four-cylinder engine could push the car up to a reasonable-ish 93 mph and it was considered, whilst it was fairly new, to be not such a bad car to drive but overall build quality was dire and faults were quick to develop. There were lots of rough edges and detail design was poor. Reliability could only be described as appalling. Which, sadly, was par for the course for Yugo cars generally.

Advertised as a bargain priced high quality car, it soon rattled and creaked, sound deadening was virtually non existent, and panels only fitted where they touched. Autocar Magazine called it a flimsy car with an awful gear change which was more miss than hit. Steering was up (or rather down) to the usual Yugo standards, ie OK if you didn't go too fast or chance any sharp bends. But yes, it was cheap.

It could be of course that the manufacturers, Zastava, didn't really have their hearts set on car manufacture. Their factory also produce armaments, which were far more profitable products than shoddy cars sold cheaply to an unappreciative market!

It was these very armaments that proved to be the final undoing of the Sana. In 1999 the Civil War in the Balkans was raging. NATO planes bombed the factory and practically flattened it; that was the end of car production and it is never restarted since. To many people that came as a relief.

A few cars left in UK showrooms were flogged off at ultra cheap prices to unsuspecting victims but since there were no spare parts available, and no hope of any in the future either, most of these were permanenly off the road in record time.

An idea of the quality of construction can be judged by the fact that very few – if indeed any – of the cars that were sold into the UK market still survive to this day. Come to think of it, few - if any - survive anywhere.

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