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Zastava Reviews

Zastava was formed in 1851 to make military equipment, but it wasn't until the eve of WW2 that it started buiding Chevrolet trucks for the army followed by Jeeps. It wasn't until 1954 that it settled on car production, teaming up with Fiat  to make the 1400, 1100B and AP-55 Campagnola from kits. Production volumes remained limited throughout the 1950s and into the '60s, with it picking up in 1965 with the first exports to Poland with the 1300 and 1500 series.

The Zastava deal with Fiat was extended in the late 1960s, with a $10m investment from the Italian company, and the Yugoslavian government, raising annual production volumes to 85,000 in order to meet demand both home and abroad. There was also a five-year plan centred on the 128, which would see production rise to 130,000 per annum. In 1970, it launched the 750M, based on the Fiat 850, followed by the 101, which was a hatchback version of the Fiat 128.

The 101 ended up remaining as a Eastern Bloc product only, with plans for an Italian market Innocenti beug dropped, when that company moved closer - and was eventually taken over by - British Leyland. It wasn't until the 101 was exported to the UK, sold as the 311, 511 and 513 series, initially under the Zastava brand, but soon renamed Yugo. The 101 was supplemented by the Yugo 45, which was a supermini designed in Italy, and based on the 127. This car achieved some success in export markets, briefly being sold in the USA by Malcolm Bricklin.  

The new Florida, or Sana in the UK, based on the Fiat Tipo, was launched in 1988, but failed to gain traction before the Balkan War intervened, and exports stopped due to international sanctions. In 1999, during the Kosovo War, NATO bombed the factory in Kragujevac, Serbia because Zastava Arms was a major military supplier to the Serbian government, but car production would eventually restart - and in 2008, the company ended up becoming another Fiat production outpost.

Good: Like a Fiat 128, but more practical, and much of the Italian car's character remained intact.
Bad: Flimsy, rusty, and exceptionally few survivors
Good: Boxy little hatchback with plenty of 1980s appeal, far more appealing than most Eastern Bloc alternatives, some parts shared with Fiat
Bad: Rusty, flimsy, dreadful gearchange and heavy steering, loses some of the magic of the small Fiat it was based upon