By the late 1970's motor manufacturers from the Comecon countries, usually having been given the spark-by capitalist factories from the west, were embarking on development of their own models.
After Fiat had put the Lada project into gear, the Volga-side works produced the 4WD Niva; Polski-Fiat devised the Polonez, and then another Fiat-inspired enterprise, Yuugoslav Zastava introduced their own brand.
The Zastava (which apparently means export in the Yugoslav tongue) was first shown at Belgrade which was then the only motor show in the Eastern Bloc. The Jugo 45 was a two-door hatchback derived from the Fiat 127 but sporting original bodywork which, at 11.45 ft (3.49 metres), was some 5.90 in. (15 cm) shorter than the Fiat.
The bodywork was very angular and dated looking even at launch, but on the plus side the Jugo 45 was roomy and came with a respectable (claimed) top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h) as well as acceleration of 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 21.7 seconds and was undoubtedly very popular in Communist countries.
The familiar 903 cc engine was mounted transversely, in unit with a four-speed gearbox, and drive was to the front wheels. The willing little ohv motor with three-bearing crankshaft put-out 45 bhp DIN (33 kW) at 6100 rpm, had a compression ratio of 9: 1, and maximum torque figures of 44.82 Ib ft (6.2 mkg/60.78 Nm) at 3400 rpm.
The Jugo 45 weighed 1598 Ib (725 kg). Within weeks of release Zastava announced that they were already working on a new model, the Jugo 55, which was to be fitted with a more powerful 1.3-liter engine.
The Yugo entered the United States by means of Malcolm Bricklin, who wanted to introduce a simple, low cost car to that market. In total 141,511 cars were sold in the US from 1985 to 1991, with the most American units sold in a year peaking at 48,500 in 1987.
1991 sales were only 3,981 cars. The Zastava Koral was sold with an updated design, priced at about 350,000 dinar (3,500 euro, 4,300 USD), until 11 November 2008, when production stopped with a final number of 794,428 cars.