Hum­mer H1

Mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles are de­signed with spe­cific ob­jec­tives in mind, like car­ry­ing mounted weapons and do­ing re­con­nais­sance over rough ter­rain with­out break­ing down. Why would any rea­son­able per­son want to drive a car as com­pro­mised as that?

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

The his­tory of Arnie’s whip

It doesn’t make sense but think about all the 4×4s that spawned as a re­sult of war­fare: Jeep Wran­gler, Toy­ota Land Cruiser, Land Rover De­fender and Mercedes G-Class.

There seems to be a fairly sim­ple psy­cho­log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion for this and the best ex­am­ple to use is the High Mo­bil­ity Mul­ti­pur­pose Wheeled Ve­hi­cle, col­lo­qui­ally short­ened to Humvee.

The Humvee’s story starts where the orig­i­nal Jeep’s story ends. The Jeep had served Amer­ica well dur­ing WWII, so it was ob­vi­ously worth keep­ing around. Un­for­tu­nately, it got old and the mil­i­tary kept on re­plac­ing its fleet with tem­po­rary solutions un­til it fi­nally signed off on a new all-pur­pose ve­hi­cle. The re­sult was the Humvee.

It may seem like it fol­lowed down the same path as other mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, which were put on sale be­cause there was still some stock left af­ter what­ever war ended.

Not so with the Humvee: there were never plans to sell it to civil­ians. It’s par­tic­u­lar set of skills just wasn’t nec­es­sary on an ev­ery­day car.

Ac­cord­ing to the mil­i­tary’s brief, it had to be much larger than the Jeep and have dou­ble its ground clear­ance. In ad­di­tion, the elec­tron­ics had to be com­pletely wa­ter­proof at a depth of 760mm and the top speed had to be some­where in the 90km/h re­gion.

As you can imag­ine, most man­u­fac­tur­ers were in­ter­ested in scor­ing such a lu­cra­tive con­tract but the wish list was so im­pos­si­ble that only three ac­tu­ally built cars for the mil­i­tary to in­spect. The con­tract was awarded to AM Gen­eral and it was used for the first time dur­ing the Panama in­va­sion in 1989.

That’s when the Humvee en­tered the pub­lic do­main. The war in which it was fight­ing was quite dif­fer­ent from the wars fought ear­lier. Peo­ple could catch up on the ac­tion thanks to 24-hour news chan­nels, where the Humvee played the star­ring role.

The Amer­i­cans are noth­ing if not pa­tri­otic and what’s more pa­tri­otic than driv­ing the same car used to fight a war thou­sands of kilo­me­tres away. Still, AM Gen­eral in­sisted it was for mil­i­tary use only, un­til one in­flu­en­tial ac­tor saw a fleet of Humvees driv­ing by and de­cided he wanted one. That ac­tor-turned gov­er­nor­turned ac­tor again was Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger and no­body says no to Arnie.

Arnie be­came the first civil­ian owner of a Humvee and a few oth­ers fol­lowed shortly af­ter. Gen­eral Mo­tors saw some po­ten­tial in the car and trade­marked the name ‘Hum­mer’. From then on out, the Humvee was sold as the Hum­mer by GM, still made by AM Gen­eral.

The Hum­mer H1 (as it would even­tu­ally be named once the H2 and H3 fol­lowed) was pro­duced from 1992 all the way to 2006.

The H1 was a highly com­pe­tent off-roader, as most of the mil­i­tary com­po­nents were car­ried over. That meant a wide track for added sta­bil­ity on gravel roads, ro­bust pro­tec­tion for the driv­e­train com­po­nents and ap­proach and depar­ture an­gles of 72 and 37.5 de­grees re­spec­tively. The H1 was even equipped with a cen­tral tyre-in­fla­tion sys­tem, which al­lowed the owner to in­flate or de­flate the tyres from inside the car.

Still, it was hor­rid to live with day to day and, by 2002, in­ter­est in driv­ing a mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle had started wan­ing. An up­grade was nec­es­sary and the re­sult was the Al­pha model.

This par­tic­u­lar model used GM’s 6.6-litre Du­ra­max tur­bod­iesel, which pro­duced 220kW and 705Nm of torque.

The in­te­rior was kit­ted out with all the lux­u­ries avail­able at the time but the over­all de­sign meant they could only do so much. The cen­tre tun­nel that ran the length of the in­te­rior was just too wide and the seats too cramped.

More than any­thing, own­ing a mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle had be­come po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect.

The H1 was dis­con­tin­ued in 2006, with the H2 and H3 keep­ing the brand alive for four more years.

By 2010, it was all over. GM tried to sell the brand to a Chi­nese com­pany but the deal fell through and the fi­nal nail was ham­mered into Hum­mer’s cof­fin.

In our cur­rent en­vi­ron­men­tally-ob­sessed cli­mate, it’s highly un­likely we’ll see the likes of Hum­mer again, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.