A brand of off-road vehicles that were sold by General Motors, the name Hummer evokes an image of great proportions, a vehicle that can withstand almost anything. Military in appearance, the Hummer line is recognizable at first sight. Originally, Hummers were built by AM General Corporation which was previously AMC Jeep's General Products division. Its assembly plant was located in Mishawaka, Indiana. These vehicles were created under a contract for the U.S. armed forces. The Humvee was the first model, built in a variety of military-based equipment and versions. These versions included troop carriers, radar, and gun turrets. After the U.S. military received their quota, some of these excess models received modifications to facilitate a directional microwave crowd control beam.
Even as far back in the late 1980s, AM General had planned to sell a civilian version, but it wasn't until 1990 when two matching white Hum-Vees were driven from London to Beijing over the uneven road of Central Soviet Union. Since they were built to drive on off-road terrain, the Hummer made the trip with ease. The highlights of this trip were broadcasted on ESPN in the U.S. This was great publicity, but not nearly as stupendous as the eventual publicity for its service in Operation: Desert Storm the following year.
Based on the M998 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (or Humvee) under the brand name 'Hummer', the H1 is a civilian off-road car that was created by AM General. Introduced in 1992 the H1 continued on until 2006 and was the beginning of what became the Hummer line. A very limited production vehicle, the H1 Alpha was produced in the final model year of 2006. The H1 Alpha featured the most powerful engine and the best fuel mileage of the H1 line.
The H1 rose to fame when it became the 'ride of choice' among Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes who considered it chic to be piloting the 'ultimate ruff-and-tuff image machine'. Pretty good turnout for a vehicle originally designed strictly for military use. The massive four-wheel-drive utility vehicle boasted 16 inches of ground clearance as well as a 'super-aggressive approach and departure angles'. The Humvee could easily climb over a 22-inch high obstacle, wade through up to 30 inches of water, and competently handle a 60 percent grade. This high clearance was made possibly by tucking driveline components inside a channel in the central space between the right and left seats. Most Hummer H1s are equipped with a Central Tire Inflation System, which enables the driver to increase or decrease the tire air pressure at will – because lower tire pressures are more suited for off-road, and higher tire pressure is desirable on-road.
The Hummer H1 has Arnold Schwarzenegger for one to thank for its birth in the civilian market. The popularity of photos from Operation Desert Storm was also a large factor in its popularity, along with the enthusiastic campaign from Schwarzenegger who has personally owned several variants of Hummers. 2006 was the final year for the Hummer H1, and production ended in June of 2006 due to a new emission law for diesel engine vehicles that went into effect the following year.
The H1 had three common variants, a four-door hardtop pickup truck, a Wagon body version, and a convertible-like soft top. Lesser-known variants include a two-door pickup truck and a four-door slantback. The final ones available in the mass market were the convertible/soft top and the station wagon variants. Both the two-door and four-door pickup versions were only available in fleet livery.
To achieve maximum mobility in comparison to other SUVs, both passenger and highway comfort were sacrificed in the Hummer H1. The H1 shares a similarly cut simple grille with the original Jeep, and the H1 is also very stable, thanks to its wide stance. Very unique features were found on the H1, an example of this was the use of inboard brakes. Other unusual features included portal gears which allowed the drivetrain's half shafts to be up high for greater clearance. The radiator in the H1 was up high, sloping back over the engine on a forward-hinged hood. Enabling fording waist-level water, the air intake was mounted high. Instead of regular run-flat tires, the H1 received magnesium-aluminum alloy or rubber inserts are an optional feature for runflat ability. The Military version is the only model that can receive chemical warfare resistant paint.
Five different engines types and three automatic transmission types can be found in Hummer H1's with the most common combinations being 6.2 L GM Diesel V8/GM TH400/3L80 3-speed, 6.5 L GM Diesel V8/GM 4L80-E 4-speed, 5.7 L Vortec 5700 gasoline V8 TBI/GM 4L80-E 4-speed, 6.5 L turbo GM Diesel V8/GM 4L80-E 4-speed, and the 6.6 L turbo Duramax LLY V8 turbo Diesel/Allison 1000 5-speed.
The H1 shares many common driveline parts with its HMMWV sibling, which included brakes, axles, frame, and major body panels all identical between the HMMWV and the Hummer H1. But that's not much of a surprise since all Hummer H1s and HMMWVs come off the same assembly line before civilian H1s received paint and finish in a separate building across the parking lot.
A privately-owned Hum-Vee was adapted into the first Snow-Vee which included the addition of caterpillar tracks, a new engine, and a new rear compartment. This vehicle was specifically made for use in and just below the Arctic Circle, and the Antarctic.
For 2006, Hummer H1 unveiled the 'Alpha' which was an extensively re-engineered H1 that was equipped with GM's Duramax Diesel and 5-speed Allison transmission. Since the earlier version of the H1 with the 6.5L 'Optimizer' turbo-diesel engine fell under such negative feedback from the customers, AM General CEO Jim Armour in 2002 took the idea of re-powering the H1 to Bob Lutz and GM Luxury Vehicle committee. GM-approved of the use of their Duramax/Allison powertrain for the H1. This allowed AM General to give the truck a good update in terms of torque, power, refinement, and the ability to meet '04 heavy duty EPA emissions requirements.
Production launch was scheduled to be the fall of 2004 and the engineering team chose the engine variant out of the GMT560 truck because it packaged better into the H1 engine
In 1992 the original Hummer was sold for $40,500 for the basic open-top, while a fully loaded wagon with all options was $54,700. By 2006 the suggested retail price had jumped to $129,399 for the open-top, the wagon for $140,796, and the H1 Alpha priced at $150,975.
GM sold its Hummer brand to the Chinese company Tengzhong as part of its bankruptcy settlement on June 2, 2009.By Jessica Donaldson