• Mar 24th 2008 at 12:58PM
  • 33
Click above for more pics of the Zastava Skala 55

The Easter holiday is a time of rebirth, and we can't think of a better automotive resurrection to celebrate than the Zastava Skala 55. Haven't heard of the Skala 55? Sure you have! It was sold here in the United States as the Yugo GV, and summarily tarred and feathered for being a $3,900 brand new car. Let's avoid an epic fight about the past and focus on why we're so jazzed that the rebuilt Zastava factory is still turning out these crisply styled five-doors. At the recent Belgrade Auto Show, Zastava parked a refreshed Skala 55 at its display and had one of the hits of the show.

Click any image to enlarge

Moving 1.5 million units since 1971 while largely avoiding the North American market takes some tenacity. Zastava's got a storied history of scrappiness, and its Skala 55 is certainly endowed with a spirit of perseverance. Based on Fiat 127/128 designs, the basic platform has long been vetted. Those Fiat roots mean good things for performance enthusiasts, too. There's a fully independent suspension and Abarth pieces can be fitted for more excitement. There's a long history of rally competition behind these cars from both Fiat and Zastava as well, so while the Yugo has become a punch line in the United States, the fact remains that one of the least expensive cars in the world is no joke.

The Skala might be a legacy design, but Zastava itself has a very modern facility and is rightfully proud of agreements with Fiat and General Motors that see Zastava producing Puntos and soon an Opel model. The basic design having long proved itself, the upgrades that Zastava R&D have given the venerable Skala 55 are aimed at keeping the the build and operating costs low. Sharing components with other Zastava vehicles ensures readily available parts, too. Underhood, an aluminum radiator has been fitted, and the wheel bearings and constant velocity joints are shared with the Zastava 10, the newest addition to the model range. There are other parts shared with the Zastava 10 – the horn and mirrors, for example.

Inside there are new seats with better padding, said to be genuinely comfortable. Keeping drivers apprised of what's going on in the engine room with the revvy 1100cc powerplant is a new instrument panel housed in a curvy dashboard. We won't likely see a return of the Skala 55 to the US market, though there's even an electric and natural gas versions of the car. It won't stop us from getting all giddy about the GVX Cabrio we just turned up on eBay, even if it'd be a real uncomfortable place to sleep were we to actually bring it home. Zastava's fortunes look a lot brighter today after a very difficult 15 years, and depending on who it signs deals with, we could again see its work in North America in the future.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      This will probably scar me for life, but I have to tell you that I owned two Yugos. I had an '86 GV, and an '86 GVX.
      Being based on an old Fiat design, these were actually pretty decent cars when new. The GV had a four speed, but the GVX went upscale with a five speed.
      Nobody buys a car like this to win street races. Neither one could be accused of being fast. But in the Fiat/Italian tradition, they were quick and nimble.
      But they were not without fault. After two Chicago area winters the hatchback was rusting and in need of repair. After only one winter you dared not lock the doors. You would not re-open them. I worked with a fellow from Yugoslavia and I asked him "How could this be? Surely there are bad winters in Yugoslavia as well." His reply: "They don't lock the doors over there."
      I had the opportunity to see the Yugo convertible at the Chicago Auto Show. It was quite nice and I might have bought one if they had ever gone on sale in my neck of the woods. Some folks never learn, I guess.
      Honestly, though, for the money invested the cars were fun. IMHO!
      • 7 Years Ago
      better than the tata nano
      • 7 Years Ago
      Does it come with the MAD (Mackinac AeroDynamics) package?
        • 7 Years Ago
        It didnt go off the bridge due to wind, they committed suicide. Probably because she was driving a Yugo. My uncle owns a body shop and one of his favorite stories is about fixing this guys window that had broken out and then shutting the door and having it break again! What a POS.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I remember that Dale! And to those who don't, a tiny Yugo was literally blown off of Mackinac Bridge (It connects the two Michigan Peninsulas.)from the wind.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It gets you from point A to B all right.They have been doing it for the last 30 or so years with no tech advances.
      Here in Brazil, FIAT is still making the Uno after more than 20 years.The Uno is basically a 127 under the skin.
      It's an absolute lack of respect to the consumer.
      MR. DAN
      • 2 Years Ago
      I still have my 88 Yugo GVX and it's a great little car.I dont drive it in the winter but I remember my 74 Fiat 128 with the frozen door locks.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A new aluminum radiator! Wow! I can finally get rid of my current Zastava with the cast iron unit.

      Actually, I'd like to have one of these. I could find a way to have some fun with it...
        • 7 Years Ago
        And I just noticed, a Ram Air hood!

        Is that optional or does it come with the Z51 handling package?
      • 7 Years Ago
      You Americans love imports don't You? I wouldn't be surprised if there were many of You who would pick it instead of a Chevrolet.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ja comrade! We amerikans very much like your superior imported slavian materials and goods.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Which Chevy?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Scala was never for sale in the USA.

      Југо је закон од аута.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Close enough - the GV was the Koral, I believe. Either one is the same basic car - Fiat 127/128 underpinnings with a modified Autobianchi body
      • 7 Years Ago
      Timewarp is right, and is that thing carby?

      Now if only BMW would do the Mini Cooper *properly* along old school lines.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Now with 100% more BOOM!

      Seriously, a CNG canister in that tin can?

      • 7 Years Ago
      This must be the rally/autocross edition, with radio delete for weight savings.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It makes me miss the Trabant!
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