Oh what a lovely war — at least that must have been the thought at AM General in Mishawaka, Indiana, because Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s created a civilian market for the company’s HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle). As that’s not an acronym that rolls kindly off the tongue, this heavyweight replacement for the military Jeep is generally known as the Humvee.
With enthusiastic support from action men like Arnold Schwarzenegger, AM General produced a civilian version of the Humvee. The Hummer H1 struck a suitably patriotic note and was soon strutting its stuff on the streets of America, making the average SUV look like a child’s pedal car. The Hummer had amazing off-road capability, with enormous stability and high ground clearance negating the roughest terrain. It comfortably climbed tall steps, forded deep water and addressed the steepest of slopes. Though macho civilians rarely pushed their Hummers to the limit, the kick in owning one of these behemoths was knowing that you could if you wanted to — and everyone else knew it too.
The Hummer H1 came in three regular variants — soft-top, pickup truck and wagon. Various alternatives like a two-door pickup and four-door fastback were produced in small numbers. There was a selection of engines, mainly V8 diesels, though there was one inadequate petrol option. The choice of engine determined transmission, with three-, four- and five-speed boxes teamed with the various engines.
Soldiers bumping around in their spartan Humvees would certainly have been impressed by the creature comforts built into the Hummer — indeed, the US Army actually purchased civilian Hummers for the use of top brass and visiting politicians who were making field trips. But the Gulf War Humvee factor didn’t last long — the beast was discontinued in 1996, though the name would subsequently return.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1992 (until 1996)
6.2 I (378 cid), 6.5 I (396 cid) or 6.6 I (402 cid) Diesel V8 ;5.7 I (348 cid) V8
Varied according to engine – typically a top speed of around 80 mph (129 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Inflation ruled – the price of a Hummer H1 wagon with full spec upon launch in 1992 was around $55,000, but the equivalent wagon made in the last model year of 1996 cost over $140,000, albeit with considerable uprating from the original version.