The Hummer was a statement car. Driving a street-legal machine originally designed for US military operations said to the world “I’ve got expendable income, hate the environment and feel like parking wherever the hell I want.”
At one point, the Hummer was the must-have car of every generation — from the baby boomers to Generation X. Then the economy went bust, the world went green and hummers were harder to spot than bald eagles.
On this day in 1983, the Pentagon awarded a production contract worth more than $1 billion to AM General Corporation. The company was staked with developing 55,000 “High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles” or HMMWV for short. Here’s a brief history of America’s favorite purchasable road weapon.
History of the Hummer
Nicknamed the “Humvee”, and designed to transport troops and cargo, the vehicles caught the attention of the average American during the 1989 invasion of Panama and the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. A civilian version of the Humvee hit local car dealerships in every US town. It’s rare that a military vehicle makes its way to modern life, but in short time, the Humvee invaded roads and highways across the US.
The Hummer H1 vehicle was produced from 1992 through 2006, and was the first of what became the Hummer line. It was initially known only as the Hummer until 1999 when General Motors GM began marketing the Hummer H2 (effectively making the first iteration of the vehicle the H1. The H2 designed was a heavily modified GMC 2500HD chassis.
The original design weighed in at over 10,000 pounds and drivers got less than 10 miles per gallon.
The brand received a massive boost after being adopted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger was photographed driving around Hollywood in an original H1.
In the early 2000s, the Hummer became a symbol of America’s super-sized lifestyle. Big cars, massive gas bills, and the ability to drive — and park — wherever the hell a person pleased. But as the stock market and house market took a dive, and the world became more eco-friendly, the gas-chugging Hummer became of icon of excess.
The Decline and Sale
In 2005, GM introduced the Hummer H3 – an smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicle. The auto makers cut the size of the vehicle in half (it weighed around 5,800 pounds) and improved the fuel efficiency (now 16 to 20 miles per gallon) but America had grown out of its obsession with tank-like commutes to work. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger had his ride modified for better fuel efficiency.
By the late 2000s, Hummer sales shrunk by 50 percent and GM eventually sold the Hummer brand to a Chinese machinery company.