So I was rereading an excellent history of one of the world’s most infamous cars-Jason Vuic’s The Yugo.
One of the things that jumped out at me was a possible sale of the Yugo rights to Chrysler that Malcolm Bricklin refused. From the revealed potential figures, Bricklin would have made a massive profit and Chrysler would get a new low-end car.
Yet he refused, being, as Vuic cited, someone for which business “it wasn’t the money, it was the chase” (The Yugo, p. 112). The book did not paint the auto entrepreneur in a very good light, and he seemed to combine the worst attitudes of a business leader. On one hand, he lived very large on an ornate ranch, on the other he had zero regard for actually maintaining value instead of racing from one stupid scheme to another.
If the Yugo had been Chryslerized, I feel confident in saying that it wouldn’t have the pop-culture impact it did. Being sold as its own standalone brand would give it a standout character that the economy model in an existing company wouldn’t. One does not see many jokes about the Mitsubishi Mirage , the current Thai-built super-econobox in the US market. (Previous-generation Mirages were actually rebadged by Chrysler as the Colt).
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In any case, Chrysler would have lost the Yugo when its native country collapsed, if poor sales hadn’t stopped it already.
One thing that got me reading the Yugo story again was articles about the Eastern European cars that were popular in the United Kingdom for a time. There was indeed a market for ultra-cheap boxes based on previous-gen Fiats. Naturally, my newest projects in Automation have centered around making such cars. The latest model regretfully needs a safety upgrade to be sold in “Western” markets, and I’ll see if I can do that without increasing the price too much.