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The Return of the Hummer

Hummer H2

In several respects, Hummers are as American as apple pie. They’re iconic SUVs and keep their value over time since they’re built so solidly.

Few vehicles boast the same overall quality as the Hummer series. If you’ve never driven a Hummer, it’s worth a shot to see what makes these vehicles so unique, and it’s not its impressive size.

Not many people know that Hummers used to be military vehicles. Today’s versions have been modified to be less beefy and adhere to regulations, yet the same general features remain.

Hummers are an outstanding automobile in military history that you may have never heard. What began as an upgrade to military assets eventually became a full-on consumer trend.

The following information goes over what makes Hummers so memorable and iconic.

What is an AMG Hummer, and what's so special about it?

The AMG Hummer is one of the only American automobiles to hit the streets after using a military-grade service truck. Initially, the Army dubbed Hummers as High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles – or HMMWV for short.

Before the 1970s, the most iconic military vehicle was arguably the Jeep, which became a civilian favorite after World War II. But all of that changed in the 1980s.

There was a need to modernize the Army’s ability to transport cargo, troops, and other supplies that fit in a truck. The truck needed to withstand harsh environmental conditions as well as be reliable during the war.

At the start of the 1980s, The Department of Defense made a call for the development of updated HMMWVs (“Humvees”). The surprise was that a little known company named AMG won the billion-dollar contract.

AMG proved to be the only automobile manufacturer with the precision and quality of production to meet the military’s stringent, sophisticated specifications.

Initially, only 55,000 Humvees were produced, and most saw service during the Persian Gulf War and the Panama invasion in 1989.

Eventually, the terminology of “Hummer” replaced the nickname Humvee when AMG began to market these vehicles to the public in 1992.

Hummer H3 red
Red Hummer H3

the H1 Hummer

Along those lines, AMG released the H1 Hummer in the 1990s to critical acclaim among truck enthusiasts and veterans who used these vehicles in action.

But some consumers balked at the sheer size of the truck compared to truck models at the time. Another criticism, justified or not, was the environmental impact Hummer emissions may have on the environment.

The H1 weighed a whopping 10,000 pounds, getting a mere 10 miles per gallon in gas mileage. Typically, trucks guzzle more fuel than regular cars, but the H1 stood in a class of its own.

It’s also important to note that at the time, gas prices weren’t as much of an issue as they are in modern times. AMG didn’t have to account for gas mileage until later models like the H2 and H3.

General Motors acquired the rights to distribute Hummers in 1999, so Americans began to see these whopping military-sized vehicles on the open road from that point on.

What makes the H1 Hummer so unique is its military roots. All other Hummer models were scaled down after the H1, which was already smaller than the full army version.

Without the need to add extra armor plating, H1 Hummers would be viable in the US market despite its colossal size.

GM sold H1 Hummers until 2006 with a total production volume of about 10,00 vehicles, which isn’t a lot compared to other GM trucks.

Following that, the H2 Hummer hit the consumer market to further acclaim.

H1 Hummer
Hummer H1

The H2 Hummer

After the H1 Hummer debuted in the 1990s, there weren’t many changes to the design until the H2 dropped in 2003.

This model tipped the scales at 8,600 pounds, significantly less bulky than the more rugged H1, but still on the heavy side.

Specification wise, the H1 is the first design manufactured with luxury consumers in mind.

Previously, Hummers were a long-time favorite of ex-military members and consumers looking for a hearty off-road vehicle. H2 Hummers featured different designs to the front and back ends, which some decried at the time as unnecessary.

Improving upon the H1, the H2 Hummer received about 13 miles to the gallon. This bump in efficiency may not seem like a big deal, but it amounts to a 30 percent improvement over the H1.

Under the hood, the original H2 Hummer roared with a naturally aspirated Vortec 6000 6.0 V8 engine capable of reaching 60 miles per hour in about 10 seconds.

The horsepower stood at 316 at 52,000 rotations per minute. Like the H1, the H2 featured a 5-speed automatic transmission with an all-wheel drive.

One fun fact about the H2 is that there have been several versions released. The 2004 H2 has more horsepower than the 2002-2003 production.

The 2008-2009 H2 has even more horsepower and a bigger Vortec 6200 6.0 V8 motor. This upgrade shaved a full second off the zero-60 time. The most potent H2 Hummers reach 60 miles per hour in about 9 seconds.

The release of the H3 Hummer made more improvements to keep in line with luxury SUV trends.

Hummer H2
Hummer H2

The H3 Hummer

What makes the H3 unique is that it’s the smallest of the lineup. Early on, the vehicle’s size was a selling point, but by 2004, it became more of criticism.

Not every driver can handle a truck as big as the H1 or the H2. It takes a more skilled hand to navigate city streets and busy highways.

Like previous versions, the H3 Hummer has an all-wheel-drive system that works best when driving in hazardous conditions.

The H3 was also the first Hummer model to feature an array of options for the outdoorsman. However, many drove the H3 for its aesthetic appeal, not necessarily its ruggedness and versatility when going off-road.

Specification wise, the H3 can wade through a few feet of water with no problem. What makes the H3 Hummer different is the fact that it comes with a 5-speed manual transmission.

There is an option for a 4-speed automatic transmission, but a real truck guy knows how different a vehicle feels with a manual transmission.

The manual transmission is powerful enough to tow up to 3,000 pounds; the automatic transmission can tow up to 4,500 pounds.

What changed the course of Hummer’s development was the financial crisis of 2009, which created the business of American auto manufacturers.

In 2010, GM revealed that it would phase out Hummers and replaced them with lighter, more affordable trucks.

You’d think that the saga of the Hummer ends there, but it doesn’t. Today, Hummers have made a come back like no other.

Hummer H3
Hummer H3

The GMC Hummer EV

Thankfully, the end of the Hummer didn’t occur ultimately. There is a new version that keeps up with the times – the GMC Hummer EV.

Visually, the Hummer EV looks much more like a traditional truck with an open bed for hauling loads. It’s a mix of the old and the new, which some might find very refreshing after driving military-style trucks.

The new Hummer is the first to feature an electric pack, not a V8 engine. It’s common for real truck guys to snicker at electric motor technology, but the new Hummer has twice the horsepower of older Hummers.

It has so much power than it can reach 60 miles per hour in about 3 seconds, a giant leap forward from previous versions. Interestingly, GMC placed three different electric motors under the hood to accommodate different driving modes.

The new Hummers may look different, but the same quality remains and still has a broad market appeal like popular trucks.

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How do you buy a hummer?

Like other one-of-a-kind vehicles, you can only buy Hummers at individual GMC dealerships. Typically, a dealership that specializes in trucks will also carry new Hummers.

Used Hummers, fortunately, are a lot easier to find. The thing to remember is that early models were designed to take plenty of punishment from off-road conditions.

When looking for a used Hummer, it’s best to thoroughly inquire about its ownership history, especially if it came from a flood-prone region.

The most significant caveat of buying a Hummer is repair cost, but at TLC Auto & Truck Service Center, we have the talent, knowledge, and commitment to excellence to work on Hummers.

hummers at TLC Auto Truck Repair Center
Hummers at TLC Auto & Truck Repair Center

Why is it hard to repair the Hummer models?

The main reason why a Hummer is difficult to repair is the complexity of the design. Off-road vehicles and luxury vehicles need more care during production, which means fixing them is equally intricate.

Concerning the new Hummer EV, repairs will likely be just as tricky. You need a skilled mechanic to understand the differences between electric motors and traditional motors.

Making matters more complicated, the Hummer EV will come in two versions: An SUV and a SUT (sports utility truck).

At TLC Auto & Truck Service Center, we’re the only shop in the Farmingdale area that works on Hummers.

Call us for all your hummer repairs

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Brought my H1 Hummer there. Great shop, Peter has been great about getting it running right, updated and making sure a 25 year old truck gets everything done right! Thanks.

Jason Castillo

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TLC Auto & Truck Repair Service Center

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