From the 1950s, Zastava was inextricably linked with Fiat. The first post-war models of the Yugoslav carmaker were nothing but licensed Italian cars. The problem was their size - the miniature 750 was also suitable for the city, the pair of 1300 and 1500 again fell into the middle class. There was a lack of a family car, ideally as independent as possible. Thus was born Stadadin or Zastava 101.
As many people guess, the new model was certainly not developed from the ground up in the former Yugoslavia. Although Zastava's management has determined the basic specifications of what their car should look like - that is, engine capacity, body type or driven axle. However, developing a new car from scratch, moreover without previous experience, was a difficult task for the Western European carmaker, let alone the manufacturer from the Eastern bloc.
In the second half of the 1960s, Zastava turned to its long-term partner, the Italian Fiat. At that time, he was developing the 128 model, his first car with front-wheel drive, plus an engine across the front. At that time, it was an innovative concept, which had to fight with its mints for its place in the sun. It is the Fiat 128, the European car of 1969/1970, the first with front-wheel drive, that can be considered a kind of turning point.
The Italians have been producing cars with a two- or four-door body since 1969. And it was here that the representatives of the Yugoslav carmaker demanded the biggest change, which was to make the planned car their distinctive model. Instead of a sedan, they should produce a hatchback in Kragujevac or, if you want a liftback. In short, a car that had a folding entire rear, including the window.
Fiat acceded to Zastava's request, the Yugoslav variant was even created under his leadership. Formally, the cooperation agreement was signed at the beginning of 1968, a good year before the introduction of the Italian model itself. The agreement also included an investment by the Italian carmaker in the Zastava plant. About a year later, the contract also included a specific licensed car and also an addendum to increase production capacity in Kragujevac with the assistance of Fiat.
After the introduction of the Fiat 128 in March 1969, prototypes of the upcoming new Zastava model gradually began to appear. The car with the designation 101, hence its nickname stojadin, premiered in the spring of 1971 at the Belgrade Motor Show. Production started in October 1971 - this year the car celebrates its fiftieth year - but the modernized factory did not start producing the car until the spring of 1972. Initial production was relatively slow.
The entire front of the Zastava 101 practically corresponded to the Fiat 128, including a chrome bumper or round headlights. Changes began to take place in the back. Paradoxically, the Yugoslav model was a little ahead of its time - due to the Italian base, it received a modern concept with the engine across and front-wheel drive, in addition, it had a more practical hatchback body, which spread en masse a few years later.
It is true that the cargo edge of the trunk was still relatively high, however, access to luggage was still much more comfortable than a relatively narrow opening in a regular sedan. The offered space was also better used. 101 thus, with a length of 3836 mm and an wheelbase of 2449 mm, perfectly met the definition of a family car.
The Italian heritage also manifested itself under the hood, where a 40.5 kW petrol 11 in combination with a fully synchronized four-speed manual transmission moved in. Zastava was able to drive up to 135 km / h, its chassis with independent all-wheel suspension was then, as with Fiat, alive and in combination with a relatively sporty engine behind its wheel was definitely not boring. In order to better cope with poor quality roads, the car had a higher ground clearance than the original.
In sharp contrast to the good driving characteristics, however, was the quality of the new model. Apparently, they didn't bother much with the final inspection in Kragujevac, so some owners complained shortly after the start of production, for example, about the brakes or poor quality electrical installation. The quality of workmanship was not the best either. Despite all the problems, the interest in the new model, available in Standard and de Luxe equipment, continued to increase and the queues for it were not one of the shortest.
Shortly after the start of sales on the domestic market, the car also got outside Yugoslavia. There, it had to bear the designation 1100, because the French Peugeot has a license for a three-digit number in the middle. By 1980, about ten thousand pieces of Zastava had reached Czechoslovakia, in the second half of the 1970s it was sold for 64 thousand crowns, which was more than, for example, in the case of the Škoda 120 L.
Zastava 1100 was popular, for example, in Poland, where it was even manufactured as part of a barter trade from the mid-1970s until 1983. The carmaker FSO offered it under the name Zastava 1100p, while in Kragujevac, the Polski Fiat 125p was produced under license. In total, over 58,000 Polish stops were to be built.
In Yugoslavia, meanwhile, they paid due attention to their national car and gradually improved, following the Italian model of webs. And they also changed the label. As early as 1976, instead of the name de Luxe, the better-equipped version began to use the letter L. Substantial visual changes and new seats also appeared. The renaming of the standard design followed three years later, creating the Zastava 101B.
But even that didn't last long. In 1979, the first large-scale modernization appeared. For the five-door model, it brought new square headlights, which had previously been given to the Fiat 128, as well as a new front grille or modified seats across the entire model range. At the same time, production began on the Mediteran version with a three-door body, which, however, retained the original round lights.
The basic variant of the car had the original eleven hundred, but new versions of the Super and Special were added. The Super version had an eleven hundred under the hood drilled to a volume of 1.3 liters and an output of 48 kW. The Special model went even further, as the 13th in its bowels had an output of 54 kW due to further changes. A four-speed manual transmission remained connected to all engines. The three-door Mediterranean then had a choice between 40.5 or 54 kW.
Meanwhile, production of Fiat 128 ended in Italy, and because relations with Zastava were good, the Italians offered the Yugoslav side to continue production of the original sedan. And so, in May 1980, alongside the Model 101, production of the Zastava 128 began, which was a virtually complete licensed copy of the Fiat 128. Under the hood, there was a choice of 40.5kW eleven or 48kW thirteen.
The portfolio of models derived from the Fiat 128 thus included a three- and five-door hatchback and finally a four-door sedan. All three bodies were also offered outside the eastern bloc. For example, in the United Kingdom, they have been sold under the name Yugo since the spring of 1982, as well as the new small hatchback, with a number beginning with the number of doors 3, 4 or 5. The numbers 11 and 13 in the name then referred to the engine used. By the way, in the United Kingdom, these cars were relatively popular due to their favorable price and practicality, they did not disappear until the early 1990s.
Licensed production in Poland has already been discussed, but Zastava has also been successfully assembled from imported parts in Egypt under the Nasr brand. According to Andy Thompson's book Cars of Eastern Europe: The Definitive History, four-door models with a stronger thirteen were especially popular. You liked the local taxi drivers. And even so much so that the sedan lasted longer in Egypt than in Serbia.
Meanwhile, in 1983, the car underwent further modernization - it received new bumpers, a modified front mask or a completely redesigned interior. The changes practically corresponded to the last facelift of the Fiat 128 in 1976. The offer consisted of the Model 55, which had an eleven-hundred-meter engine under the hood, and the 65, which offered a 48kW aircraft, the 13-engine. The number referred to the engine power in the horses. The equipment was newly named GT or GTL.
The Special variant dropped out, the three-door version not only took over all the mentioned visual changes but also lost the Mediteran designation and had the same engines under the hood as the five-door version. In 1983, the last body variant also appeared, a utility pick-up from the factory in Sombor.
Five years later, the last extensive modernization of the original Type 101 came into play. A new name appeared again, the Skala 55 or 65. It was unified for both the hatchback and the sedan. You can also find the designation 101 Skala or 128 Skala. Following the example of other models that Zastava produced in the late 1980s, even the age-old stand was launched under the trade name Yugo.
The engines remained intact, only the more powerful variant switched from a four- to a five-speed manual transmission. Visually, the Rock can be distinguished by another front mask, modified bumpers, or a redesigned interior.
In 1990, the production of the three-door model first ended, and a year later the millionth piece of the Zastava 101 was created, or all its later variants. However, in the spring of the same year, the war in Yugoslavia also began, leading to the country's disintegration. The fighting, as well as the sanctions imposed on the country, logically paralyzed production, which has fallen sharply. There were problems with the supply of parts, the workshop quality deteriorated even more and the car received only a few changes in the 1990s (one of them was the extension of the five-speed transmission to a version with a weaker engine). In addition, in 1999, NATO troops bombed Zastava, which they had mistaken for a weapons division.
Car production was eventually resumed, and although Zastava produced the more modern Koral (the original Yugo) and Florida (the intended successor to the web), there was still demand for the obsolete Skala not only in Serbia but also in other states of the former Yugoslavia. Therefore, the production of the five-door version could continue almost unchanged until 2008, although the sedan ended in 2003.
Back in March 2008, Skala appeared at the Zastava stand at the Belgrade Motor Show. It's hard to believe with a petrol engine fitted with a carburettor. Unlike other models of the Serbian carmaker, it never experienced fuel injection. She could also dream of modern safety and comfort features, which is why the Skala was one of the cheapest new cars in the world. By the way, a parallel is also offered here with other licensed cars of the former Eastern bloc - the Serbs once squeezed the modern construction until it became automotive prehistory.
On November 21, 2008, the last piece of Zastava Skala, the original 101, left the factory in Kragujevac. Subsequently, the Italian Fiat took over the plant. Altogether, just over a million three- and five-door hatchbacks based on the Fiat 128 have been produced since 1971, and the four-door sedan produced between 1980 and 2003 added less than 230,000 units. In Serbia, however, many people still cannot afford a car, but others cannot even be named because of its dubious quality.