Zastava started life as a cannon-casting plant, founded in 1853. They entered vehicle production with the manufacture of Ford trucks, made exclusively for the Yugoslavian Army in the late 1930's. A small number of vehicles continued in production until the outbreak the World War 2. In the early 1950's Zastava would manufacture a small number of Jeeps, however the relationship with Willys-Overland (Chrysler) remained at length, and when the lawyers were called Zastava ceased production.
It was following the war that the factory was renamed "Zavodi Crvena Zastava" (meaning: "Red Flag Plant"). The first passenger cars rolled off the production line in 1954
, these first iterations being variants of the Fiat 1400, 1300 and 1900. It was during this time that Zastava introduced another mode, the 1300 cm3 four door sedan, known in Italy as "Milletrecciento". Few would have thought it possible, but the car was modern (Fiat
introduced it in 1961