How the military's Humvee went civilian:
Even though the Jeep was the motorized symbol of the American army during WWII and the Korean War, by the 1970s it had become obsolete. The military needed a new general-purpose vehicle efficient at moving soldiers and light equipment to the battlefield. How that vehicle came into being and turned into a civilian model as well is a war story in itself.
The call went out to three veteran military contractors:
Teledyne Continental and AM General Corporation (AMG). The latter was a
distant relative of the old Willys-Overland company that had designed
the first Jeep prior to WWII. Unfortunately, in the 1930s Willys didn't
have the production capacity needed so initial Jeep production had been
handled by Ford and General Motors. AMG began producing Jeep derivatives
during the Korean War.
Located in South Bend, Indiana, AMG had cranked out thousands of Jeeps before winning the Jeep replacement contract in 1983. Their new vehicle received the military nomenclature of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). Soldiers found this to a mouthful and quickly nicknamed them Humvees. AMG officially named the vehicle the Hummer.
All Hummers had openings for four doors, but the back two door openings could be filled in with panels if they were not needed. A removable top and roll bar could be fitted, and the windshield could be laid flat on the hood. These troop/cargo carriers could seat two crew and eight soldiers. Another version of this model, the M1038, was fitted with a winch.
Remember the Rat Patrol television series about WWII-era
desert fighting, where
Jeeps with machine gun
mounts terrorized German troops? That spirit was alive and well in
Hummer-land. Special armament carrier versions, the M1025 and M1026,
mounted gun rings that would accept machine guns and grenade launchers.
The M966 model even carried TOW missiles into action! These missiles
deployed two fine wires behind them to allow the operators to guide the
missile to the target without worrying about radio jamming devices. TOW
missile-armed Hummers accounted for several Iraqi tank kills in
Operation Desert Storm. The M998 model even mounted Stinger missiles to
keep hostile aircraft at bay.
In 1992 the first civilian Hummers were delivered. Unlike their military cousins, the civilian Hummer had insulation, sound deadening and a semi-comfortable interior. However, it was still pretty Spartan despite "luxury" items such as cloth seats, air conditioning and heating. At this point the Hummer name became primarily used on civilian versions, and Humvee on military ones.
individuals bought Hummers as novelties for cruising around town or
off-road, some were also sold as ambulances, industrial vehicles or
fire-trucks that could access rough wilderness areas.
The Hummer H1... looks like something Darth Vader would drive.
The H2 is an improvement on the H1, but still very big and heavy...
The GM-built Hummer H2 that followed was an all-new truck based on GM Tahoe running gear. The Hummer H2 had a bold look, a slimmer body for civilian roads, and the latest technology added. Although it may not be as powerful or large as its predecessor, the H2 was loaded with many surprises and luxuries; GPS navigation, DVD player, E-mail access and even a night vision system were packed into the monster.
Although there were many extras and technological advances in the H2, the Hummer H3 is much more advanced, smoother, more economical and so much more value for money. I like the power, the manoeuvrability and look of the H3. And now that they're made in South Africa they're more affordable.
the (mean) mother of all jam-jars, now made right here in South Africa.
I can't remember when last I drove a vehicle that elicited so much response from other road users and passes-by. Wherever we went people just stared, took photos and asked questions. But does the newest "little" SUV live up to all the hype? Does the Hummer H3 set new standards for the class? It certainly does in the "looks" department. Even when I parked it next to BMW X5s, Toyota Fortuners, Nissan Pathfinders, Volkswagen Touaregs, Mercedes-Benz MLs or Porsche Cayennes, guys and dolls would gather round, peering into the H3's windows, standing back and asking - how, what, where, how much?
.... more to come...
we took the Hummer off-road and it didn't even raise it's temperature
daring to go where usually only smaller, lighter and nimbler quads would venture
powering around at Wild Thing Raceway
creating our own Desert Storm
and no sweat through rivers - Photos by Dylan Slater
Thanks to WILD THING (crn Swartkoppies & Klipriver Drive, Joburg) for the use of their facilities
Engine: Vortex 3700 - in-line 5-cylinder, 3.7 litre, fuel-injected, petrol
Power: 180 Kw @ 5600 rpm (SAE)
Torque: 328 Nm @ 4600 rpm
Transmission: Full-time 4WD 4-speed automatic (5-speed manual optional)
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Electro-hydraulic power 4-wheel discs, 4-wheel anti-lock
Wheels:7.5 inch X 16 inch Aluminium wheels 32 inch, P265/75R16 all-terrain tyres with full-size spare
Fuel Capacity: 87 liters
Ground clearance: 216 mm
Approach angle: 37.5 degrees
Departure angle: 34.6 degrees
Water fording depth: 610 mm @ 8 kph - 407 mm @ 32 kph
Maximum tow load: 2041 kg
Height: 1893 mm (without roof-racks)
Width: 1989 mm (including fender flares)
Length: 4782 mm (including spare-wheel cover)
Price: R444,750 incl VAT (top-of-the-range H3 Luxury Automatic 4WD)
the Hummer was so easy to drive, fast enough (as you can see - at only 3 000 rpm) and steady on the road
whew, what a 'great' car, or is it a 'little' truck, the icon lived up to all it's expectations and more
no matter what you call it, the Hummer is as their slogan says "LIKE NOTHING ELSE".
Thanks to Tim Hendon and his team at General Motors South Africa for the drive,
We really enjoyed the Hummer. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was impressed.