I assume that a Hummer H1 is not a common sight any more in North America, and believe me they are not a common sight in Australia; they never were…
The apocryphal story behind the ‘civilisation’ of the military HMMWV is that Arnold Schwarzenegger was inspired by their use in Operation Desert Storm (and seeing them while filming the not-so-macho Kindergarten Cop!), and had the desire to drive one of the most over-the-top, but it seems there were intentions earlier on. The civilian Hummer was on sale from 1992 until 2006, with just under 12,000 produced.
There was a Hummer occasionally seen in my home town, owned by a timber merchant and sleeper cutter. One story I remember about it involved him coming across a couple of guys in an old Holden who were attempting to pilfer a couple of sleepers from a stockpile in the forest. Upon coming on the scene in his Hummer, the owner gave chase and was quickly able to intimidate the guys into stopping and abandoning their efforts, and further, never coming back!
The ownership profile of the Hummer was normally fairly predictable as the celebrity set; in Australia this included professional tennis player Mark Philippoussis and controversial stockbroker Rene Rivkin. Because they were a grey-market import (by third-party companies), I don’t think it would be possible to establish how many there are in Australia.
I was able to get an interior shot when I saw this Humvee again on the weekend; but I am not sure why this one is RHD! I think it is fair to say that the Humvee interior is not so much styled or designed as arranged!
Another interesting side-note is that the earlier Humvees are being retired from military service, and making their way into collectors hands, as with this one I saw at a commercial vehicle show (together with the engine bay above).
When was the last time you saw a Hummer H1?
Related Reading: Possibly the only other appearance of a Hummer H1 on CC?
February 17 of this year on the Autobahn we were headed towards Stuttgart from Nuremburg and in one of the opposing lanes I saw a sand coloured H1 – couldn’t believe it. Saw its twin in Calgary a month or so later – in downtown traffic.
BTW, the Porsche museum makes for an excellent day trip. From Nuremburg that is, not Calgary.
Yes, there’s still an American military base in Ansbach called United States Garrison Ansbach, which is about 40 kilometres west of Nuremberg.
We see the military convoy vehicles, including the HMMVEE H1, on the Autobahn around Nuremberg many times.
If you go to IKEA store in Fürth, you would see lot of American vehicles in the car park owned by American military personnel and its families.
Yikes! The engine compartment is neither styled nor arranged. It’s just random, with blazingly obvious design flaws that wouldn’t pass muster in a homemade dune buggy, let alone a supposedly reliable weapon. Hoses rubbing on sharp metal edges, parts fastened on with baling wire.
OK. I’m a blind old man; but while I can see plenty of zip-ties and those damned cheap, sharp, worm-drive hose clamps, I can’t see any baling wire. Euphemism for effect? Or age-onset myopia?
Actually it looks pretty much exactly how any given 2016 engine looks when you take off the now ubiquitous plastic engine covers.
“Thrown together” was what I was thinking. Depending on how homegrown the RHD conversion is, that may have hurt matters a little or a lot but it sure didn’t help.
As outboard as the seating position is, I don’t know how much RHD would impact on the engine bay!
I see no bailing wire. I am also not seeing hoses on sharp edges. What picture are you looking at?
Sleepers are railroad ties, which are rarely sourced from lone backwoodsmen here in the States.
I try to learn one new thing a day and no more; when you’re my age there’s not much room left for new data. Btw, that’s why geezers have a hard time doing brain data retrieval (aka remembering), the database is getting too big!
Sleeper Cutter – what a great term, and not one often used on this side of the planet.
from: http://www.yesteryearstools.com/ – sleeper cutter: a person who squares up sections of logs to be used as sleepers (British) or railroad ties using a broad axe.
The things I learn from this web site!!!
OK, time to put brain into neutral and coast to bedtime.
Actually with a portable mill, you wont even dent iron bark with an axe broad slim or otherwise.
I don’t remember anything about the guy, but I doubt you would get the coin together to buy a Hummer as a lone backwoodsman! There was a big timber industry in the area for 100+ years but there are only a handful of sawmills left, with logging banned in a lot of areas.
IMO, these H1s, were the the sign of its times.
Today, BMW X6, are more or less in same situation: 4 seats, no space for lugagge, useless on offroad 4×4, huge and expensive tyres…. and more
BMW X6 … “useless on offroad 4×4.” Most assuredly, not so the Hummer H1.
It depends on the terrain. The high desert was just about perfect for them but in forested areas where width is an issue a Suzuki Samurai would run away from it.
Hummers are wide so they can travel in the same ruts as bigger military trucks.
Which is not that handy in civilian life. They are about a foot wider than Landcruisers and Nissan Patrols which are the default offroader here.
Hummers are truck width 2.5 metres or 98 inches maximum roadable width world wide.
I’m sure I’ve told this story here before, but telling stories over and over again runs in my family.
In the summer of 1986 I had a job with a courier service in South Bend, Indiana. AM General, HQ’d in neighboring Mishawaka, was busy making Hummers. I think it was before any had actually been delivered to the military. Anyway, AMG was our biggest customer, and I was frequently at the plants in Mishawaka, South Bend, and LaPorte.
One day I dropped something off at the Mishawaka plant. I don’t remember why now, but there was some snafu and I needed to see some muckety-muck at the other end of the plant. The head of receiving said, “Come with me,” and headed toward one of the hundreds of finished Hummers parked around the plant. He told me to climb aboard. Inside, I was struck by how wide these things were. The receiving guy sat in the driver’s seat and pressed a button on the dash; the Hummer roared to life. “We keep a little gas in all of ’em,” he said, “because we have to move them around sometimes.”
I may have been among the first non-military, non-AMG-employees ever to ride in a Hummer.
Side note: Somehow after these were released to the military everybody started calling them Humvees. But when AMG got the contract, it was called the Hummer, and that’s what we always called them in South Bend.
Side note 2: Sometimes AMG would move large convoys of Hummers through town on US 20 on the way, I presume, to the LaPorte plant. These were quite a sight.
Great story Jim, it can be interesting to visit any large factory, I have seen a handful. Probably the most interesting was the Herald Sun newspaper printing factory nearly 25 years ago, which had wire-guided robotic carts handling the rolls of newsprint among other things.
The one chance I had to sit in one (mid 90’s at a Boy Scout jamboree) I was also struck by just how wide it was. It seemed like you could fit two people in between the driver and the passenger (if it were not for the huge console thing in the way).
These were sort of up there with cars like the first generation Dodge Viper or the Ferrari F40-F50 for my generation, every kid aware of cars thought these were awesome, including myself, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Any millennial who denies it is repressing their inner child, I was there, you loved it! The Hummer I never cared for was the H2, which was merely a Tahoe that looked vaguely like an H1, but more like a big Jeep, and really if there was a Hummer that spoke ill of the times it was those, not the original purpose built daddy of them all. The H1 was akin to homologation cars, nobody is going to bitch about how impractical a Plymouth Superbird is, because they’d be completely missing the point, it’s not supposed to be. They are vehicles designed for a specific purpose that happened to be sold to the public(for a price!) for a short period of time.
So yes, I still turn my head when I see an H1 driving by, not to shake my head or wag my finger about how they ruin the environment/represent military industrial complexes/aren’t practical, no, it’s awe, the same awe I had when I first saw one submerged up to it’s glass wading through a river in some magazine when I was 8 years old.
Plus, the H1 did fit Ahnold perfectly. Ignoring virtually all of his work after Terminator 2 and especially his personal/political life, I still love watching much of his movie backlog, repeatedly, they still are over the top even by today’s Hollywood standards, but are actually watchable and fun(unlike today’s Hollywood standards). When I see a H1 pop up in traffic my reaction is identical to that when I see Commando pass by when I’m rapidly flipping through channels “omg where was it, must see!!!”
I feel the same way about movies. The stuff I watched in the 80’s and 90’s could be pretty cheesy but it was somehow still enjoyable in a way today’s movies just aren’t. Maybe it’s my age showing…or my lack of patience for contrived angst.
The H1 is utterly impractical, but it’s a statement vehicle that can actually back up its bravado. The H2 is perhaps the ultimate poser-mobile.
There’s a couple of them around our area, usually someone’s business vehicle driven by the same type of guy who uses a monster truck to pull their landscaping trailer.
When you’re close to one in traffic it is indeed striking how wide they are, it can’t be pleasant to drive, but I guess that’s not the point.
I guess the width is to compensate for the high mounted drivetrain?…guess to get ground clearance…if all that weight was up high in a narrow vehicle it might be prone to tipping (like I guess the original Jeep was?).
I think I’ve only seen these in military convoys (no civilian owners that I know of)..in 1996 we were in Hungary, and we saw a bunch of them pulled over on the side of the road…guess they were still troops in Kosovo back then…we were talking to them more as tourists, as we were headed to Budapest and they assumed we hadn’t been there and were talking about it pretty much as you would to any other tourist.
My brother and I had a ride in an H1, circa 15 years ago. I’m pretty sure it was the one below. I mean, what are the odds there’s another gold metallic Hummer H1 in the Netherlands ? Most striking, besides the color (there goes the neighborhood…), were its width and strong diesel roar.
I also see an H2 quite regularly. Must be owned by a contractor, since I only see it towing a tandem axle trailer loaded with building materials.
Never saw an H3 so far.
There are at least three I see on occasion around Peoria, IL, two of which I know for sure belong to wealthy businessmen/women.
There are two sitting for sale in Victoria, IL right now – they’ve been there since last Autumn at a small lot that mostly sells farm trucks.
What is more interesting is the increasing number of H2s and H3s that have crept out of hiding once gas prices dropped below $3. It is almost as if they were put into storage in 2008 when gas was $4. Never see any H1s though.
My comment pertains to the metro Detroit area only.
There was one of these overrated cars parked daytime at Hobart hospital daytimes with a RHD conversion some well paid surgeon drove priced at well over 100,000 AU dollars at the time very few people wanted one or could afford to buy and feed one, I see a couple of the later versions around here the drivers look like even bigger dick heads than Arnie in their camo clothing.
These were never very common, outside of national guard bases at least. My towns police department has 2 of them.
Probably last year.
They pop up around Los Angeles as we have more vehicles than Detroit ever did….
Last year (?) the Federal Govt. began selling off Military H1’s fairly cheaply , they have crap loads of them stored just outside Barstow , Ca. , the sales blurb says they can never be registered for on road use in the U.S.A. so who knows where they go .
OTOH , I do occasionally see Military surplus ones with Ca. tags so there’s some loophole in there some where .
Just last week I was in South Central L.A. getting coffee @ 7-11 and a lady was driving a pristine white H3 , I’d thought those were all gone a while ago .
The Hummer H1 phenomenon, which blazed quite brightly right after Gulf War I, persisted through the 1990s, and then died after the 2000s wars and high gas prices, is something that I remember quite well in both its rise and fall. I remember H1s appearing in the streets in the early 1990s, and although I never drove or had a ride in one, I obtained a brochure soon after their introduction and chatted with some owners. In the late 2000s I got to drive them some in an unpleasant place, which confirmed the impressions that I had heard over a decade earlier and gave me some new ones of my own. Among them are:
– They are SLOW. The engines were ordinary GM diesel V8s, the 6.2L or the 6.5L, with later civilian H1s having the Duramax 6.6L diesel or Vortec 5.7L gas engines. They are ordinary pickup truck engines powering a much heavier vehicle. This is fine for military use, which consists mostly of driving slowly in road convoys or off-road. For civilian on-road use, it is unsuitable. The 6.2L and 6.5L diesel versions have to work hard to move the vehicle’s weight, and the gearing is low for low speed work, with highway use simply not intended. The later civilian H1s with more power are supposed to be better, but I have no experience with them so I can’t comment on them.
– They are remarkably small inside. The vehicle is long and wide, but it also was designed with a very high floor for ground clearance and with a very low roof in order to make it a small target. At the same time, the 4WD drivetrain is quite large. The result is perhaps the tallest and widest transmission tunnel ever. It may be more accurate to say that the H1 has two narrow passenger tunnels set into the floor. The wagon versions are four seaters with each individual seat being quite cramped.
– They drive, let’s call it, uniquely. I have not driven one off-road, and I have no doubt that they are very good at dealing with low traction situations, as they were designed to do. As an on-road vehicle, though, a major issue is how they steer. The power steering is heavily boosted for ease of driving at low speeds, with good reason; it is a military vehicle, with low speed use and a distracted driver as the norm. One-finger steering, literally, is how it is set up. Two fingers actually are more than necessary. I have not driven one at over 40 mph, but I imagine that sneezing at highway speed could be a bit perilous.
All of these issues are in addition to the H1’s huge size, which again was not an issue in military use, but is definitely an issue in civilian use with the H1 not designed with ordinary road widths and parking space sizes in mind.
With the vehicle having major shortcomings in civilian use, and having lost its post-Gulf War I halo after the extensive coverage of its vulnerability to IEDs in Iraq, I am not surprised that lack of demand resulted in the H1’s cancellation by 2006. If it had been more suitable for civilian use, like the Mercedes-Benz Gelaendewagen, it might still be around as an expensive halo vehicle, but it was not.
Post-Iraq War, the military halo vehicle crown may belong to the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) armored truck, as shown on Top Gear’s feature on a South African version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDoRmT0iRic), but there is no way that such a multiple-ton armored vehicle can ever sell more than a few copies to wealthy, eccentric people with millions to burn.
Thanks for the thorough analysis Robert. I expect the Hummer is like an actual medium-duty truck in performance, it just can’t carry as much of a load.
Using one on the road would seem to be missing the point, while off-road it is fine in wide-open spaces, on trails that other off-roaders use you could easily run across issues caused by the width. Not to mention that if you don’t have the need for extreme off-road ability, it is uneconomical compared to a Jimny/Wrangler/LandCruiser.
Traditionally the general-purpose military transport vehicle can find civilian use, eg farming or forestry, while combat vehicles were only useful as powertrain donors. With more of the vehicles growing tons of armor, it seems the latter case will be more common in the future.