In 1985, AM General began production on the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee. After the vehicle received considerable positive attention during the media’s coverage of the Gulf War, AM decided to launch a civilian version of the truck in 1992. The original Hummer, or what later became known as the H1, gained its legendary status because of its monstrous size and equally epic capabilities. With 16 inches of ground clearance and incredibly short front and rear overhangs, the vehicle was able to clear obstacles standing 22 inches high and handle a 60 percent grade. Perhaps even more impressive was that the H1 could easily ford through up to 30 inches of water--that’s almost as deep as the shallow end of most public pools. Add this to the H1’s 72˚ angle of approach and 37.5˚ angle of departure, and even the tamed down version of the military’s Humvee could go nearly anywhere it wanted.
But the King of the Jungle was not without its problems. The original H1, built from 1992 to 2006, was incredibly sluggish. Weighing in at over 7,000 pounds, the huge vehicle struggled to get underway. Indeed, 0-60 mph took a glacial 16 seconds. As such, the truck was usually offered with a V-8 diesel or turbodiesel form, though a woefully inadequate 5.7-liter gas V-8 was used from 1996-’97. During these years, the uncomfortable H1 ranged in power from 150 horsepower with 430 pound-feet of torque to 205 horsepower with 440 pound-feet of torque. Even the H1 Alpha, built in 2006 as a special edition attempting to revitalize the H1, only had 300 horsepower and 520 pound-feet of torque.
In order to make this truck so capable, most of the primary components that make up the drivetrain were pulled up into a specially designed channel that ran along the center of the car’s interior between the passengers. This came at the tremendous expense of passenger comfort and drivability, as the truck’s design was widened to accommodate this layout. In fact, it was nearly three feet wider than a compact car. Add this to the 10-12 mile per gallon fuel efficiency with the more efficient diesel and you can understand why the H1 needed a 25-gallon fuel tank and along with an optional 17-gallon auxiliary tank (though the Alpha was more efficient). Yet, despite all these drawbacks, the H1 initially went on sale in 1992 for between $40,500 and $54,700. However, by 2006, the base price for an H1 had climbed to $129,399 with the supreme Alpha topping $150,975.
Considering how capable, powerful, big, and just plain old heavy the Hummer H1 was, I don’t know whether to be more shocked or impressed when I see the video below. Clearly, somebody had too much time on their hands...
June 1, 2010
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