On a road trip to Eau Claire, Wis., today I spotted this dynamic duo on I-94 north of Tomah. GMC motorhomes are a pretty rare sight on the roads these days and Yugos even more so. When was the last time you saw a pair of them tethered together?
The GMC motorhome was actually a pretty good idea – in its day. Produced from 1973 until 1978, it was the only factory-built motorhome ever offered by an American car maker. Powered by a front-wheel-drive powertrain taken from the Toronado, it was offered in both a 23’ and 26’ length. Relatively large windows gave the vehicle great visibility for a motorhome and its fiberglass and aluminum body was easily the most attractive on the market at the time, possibly ever. GMC built almost 13,000 of them in its six year run and it’s estimated that two-thirds of them are still operational.
The Yugo was not such a good idea. Zastava was a former arms manufacturer which started building cars in the 1930s. In the aftermath of World War II, the company produced Willys-licensed jeeps for a time but switched to Fiat-designed automobiles in the early 1950s. In the mid-1980s Malcolm Bricklin worked out the deals necessary to import a Zastava version of the Fiat 127 to the U.S. and called it the Yugo. The car came with a ridiculously low price and a ridiculously long warranty and insanely poor build quality. By the early 1990s its poor reputation along with difficulty conforming with emissions standards put the poor thing out of its misery, at least here in the U.S.
Why someone would paste wood grain trim on a 20-something year old Yugo is as baffling as why they would get collector plates for it. At least these merry travelers brought a couple of bicycles along. They might come in handy.