What is the world coming to?

April 27, 2002

WE WERE entertained when Michael Jordan came back. We'd love to see a good 25-cent cup of coffee, again. But bringing back the Yugo, even as a ZMW? Please.

For anyone not exposed to stand-up comedy, the Yugo is a car, an infamous amalgam of metal and who-knows-what-else that hit the United States in 1985 as the next cheap thing. In our era of relentless quality control, the vehicle - Has the Yugo ever been called a vehicle? - became synonymous with shoddiness.

It bombed, of course. Importer Malcolm Bricklin went on to fail at making $2,000 electric bikes. But the car made an enduring contribution as a cultural icon. Collectors gather in clubs and compete for spare parts. And of course there are the jokes: What do you call a Yugo at the top of a hill? A miracle.

It is miraculous that Mr. Bricklin would try again - with plans to import 60,000 cars a year from the same factory, once Yugoslav, now Serbian. Selling for $5,000 to $10,000, ZMWs would be the cheapest cars in the United States.

There's a chance these Yugos won't fall apart. More likely, we're in for a whole new round of one-liners.

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