Among the many, many complaints Americans had about the Yugo, the econo-hatch’s lackluster performance was among the top faults that sunk the little Soviet-built Fiat 127-copycat here in the States. Build quality and reliability issues aside, the glacial acceleration just never really clicked with a crowd that was less caring about its low price and reasonable economy.
In juxtaposition to its original state of being, today’s Craigslist find remedies a major shortcoming with an out-of-the-box ’86 Yugo with a not-so elegant solution: a 500-cubic-inch Cadillac V-8 at each end.
Something of a cross between a Group B car and Danny Thompson’s Challengers, this Yugo is a home-brew autocross toy built several years ago by a man, who we must assume is an asylum escapee, named Jim McKamey. With the drivetrain units from a pair of ’70s Cadillac Eldorados as his foundation, Jim began by—literally—stretching the Yugo around its new twin powerplants. The box flares were created by pulling the original sheet metal out, which did two things for tire clearance. First, stretching the uncut panels out, rather than pie-cutting and simply pulling the fenders horizontally, caused the fender arch to rise. Second, the higher fender not only gave the tires more horizontal clearance, but it gave them vertical clearance to balance out the newly-dropped ride height. The stance is low and wide thanks to this clever method, and the original flares and body lines match up well, in the end.
A pair of transverse Turbo 425s transmissions (essentially a TH400 inside) direct power to each axle, and the combined output of these un-smogged Caddy 500s stacks up to around 900 hp, according to the original builder. The downside of this setup? The Yugo is now around double its curb weight; but who can complain with around 15 times the power?
This fine piece of engineering can be yours for around $25,500 at the ad’s current listing price. It bears all the marks of a well-thought out creation, it looks nice, and appears to drive well Judging from the autocross videos, it handles with little drama and quick turn-in. This is maybe the only Yugo in existence worthy of that kind of money.