How one of the most odious American cars of the new millennium appeared and what is remembered for
At first glance, the history of H2 fits in a couple of paragraphs. He made his debut on a converted platform of large Jim’s “trucks”, was produced for eight years and went to the automobile Valhalla. That’s the whole story. The epilogue is the biting phrase of the famous American journalist Doug DeMuro: “The Hummer H2 is the most shameful car that a human being can drive on today’s roads.” Well, Doug, we didn’t hold a .45 to your temple. You said it yourself…
Hummer looks like a guy who wanted to be a Navy SEAL, but something went wrong. Shooting skills and cool physical training have not found application. One fine day, he found himself in the role of the king of Instagram surrounded by silicone beauties with a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels. Did the soldier dream about this? With H2, the picture is similar. The entourage a la military is crossed out by the image of the transport of rappers-drug dealers and elements of “tuning” such as rims with a diameter well over 20 inches. On rough terrain, a huge closet is practically not used. Yes, by the way, he did not achieve much success in the market …
But is the eternally criticized all-terrain vehicle so bad? Is his biography really meager? And is it fair to say that the Hummer is just a Chevy Tahoe with a different body?
By the end of the seventies in the American kingdom-state, there was a need to replenish the ranks of the armed forces with new tactical all-terrain vehicles, “High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles” (HMMWV, High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle). 61 companies showed interest in the competition, but in the end, only three put their prototypes to the test – Chrysler Defence, Teledyne Continental and AM General, a division of the now deceased AMC (American Motors Corporation) for the production of military vehicles. The development of the latter proved to be excellent in difficult trials, won the hearts of the high ranks of the US Army and eventually won the competition.
By 1983, AM General became the official supplier of fundamentally new technology. Humvee – that’s what the all-terrain vehicle was called – received an independent suspension on double wishbones front and rear, final drives and a permanent all-wheel drive system with Torsen cross-wheel “samoblocks” and a lockable center differential. The Humvee was powered by General Motors V8 diesel and petrol engines. Gearboxes – only automatic, in order to make the work of drivers as easy as possible during patrols and in the heat of battle.
An indescribable flavor to the car gave a huge width of 2.16 meters. One might get the impression that the designers created a deliberately threatening image so that the enemies fled in fear in all directions. Of course, this is not true. The transmission elements were pressed under the bottom as much as possible in order to obtain a huge ground clearance (410 mm). At the same time, the car was heard “in the shoulders” to exorbitant values. Here is a logical explanation for the specific appearance. The reverse side of the coin is a cramped cabin for four with a giant tunnel in the center.
HMMWVs were baptized by fire in December 1989 during the Panamanian operation “Just Cause” to restore democracy. But the high point was the war in the Persian Gulf. The vicious faces of the machines constantly flashed in the news reports from the war zone. Quite quickly, even citizens infinitely distant from the army learned about them. It was probably the most unusual and successful product placement imaginable!
At the time of Desert Storm, the needs of the US military and foreign customers closed about 72 thousand copies in numerous modifications. But here another problem arose. As Hans-Jurgen Tücherer points out in his book Hummer H2 – King Size America!, civilians, including Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, have awakened interest in the hero of the Middle East.
Then Arnie did not occupy the chair of the governor of the “Golden State” and did not drown for electric cars. He starred in the second part of the Terminator, had a very definite image and was one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. The monstrous SUV was ideally suited to his person, however, alas, it was not produced for private owners. Some potential buyers even sent checks to AM General. The company regretfully sent them back. However, Schwarzenegger deserved special treatment. AM General, with the blessing of stern comrades from the Pentagon, converted one of the cars for him. This is how the legendary civilian Hummer H1 appeared.
His birth in a certain sense predetermined the creation of H2. It only took one more fateful event for the puzzle to fit together. It turned out to be the acquisition of the Hummer brand by General Motors in 1999 after long secret negotiations. The auto giant took over the marketing and distribution of civilian vehicles. Production, as before, was handled by AM General. The deal opened up a unique opportunity to launch a new product – a more massive and affordable H2. The idea to offer consumers “almost a Hummer”, only cheaper, more practical and more civilized, seemed like a win-win.
The soil was probed with a concept car as close as possible to the production model. Chevrolet and GMC design team Clay Dean hastily got it ready for the 2000 Detroit Motor Show in just five months. The artists didn’t actually have to invent anything. They circled the silhouette of the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon along the ruler, added the front of the military all-terrain vehicle and smashed the huge wheels along the edges of the body. The result led the audience into ecstasy. It was too late to give back, and General Motors began to prepare the car for production, which started in April 2002.
Meanwhile, local authoritative publications have reached the exhibition sample. Here is what Motor Trend magazine wrote about him in the fall of 2000. “We didn’t smell diesel exhaust or see soot clouds. The H2 will probably get an optional heavy-fuel engine following the original SUV, but the concept is equipped with a 345-horsepower version of the 6-liter Vortec V8 engine and a four-speed heavy-duty automatic. Powerful traction is seamlessly distributed through the Autotrac all-wheel drive system to 19-inch rims with 35-inch OD cartoon tires. If you think that their tread is very noisy in motion, then you are right.
The current Hummer is too expensive for ordinary guys. The last one to visit our Detroit office cost over a hundred thousand dollars. But what if there was a car on the mass chassis of a heavy pickup truck? Would it be possible to keep the cost under control in this case? The frame of the new Chevrolet/GMC GMT800 trucks is a strong and rigid enough basis for an SUV that can be used with a few amplifications and modifications.”
There is an opinion that the H2 is just a Tahoe with a different body. It is enough to see serial giblets to understand how wrong it is. The SUV skeleton is a three-section hodgepodge. The front is a modified part from heavy pickups of the 2500 series. The central one is a completely original closed section. The back is a piece from the Tahoe, finished to a total weight of more than 3.6 tons.
By the way, SUVs were even produced in different places. Chevrolet was assembled at the Jim plant in Arlington, Texas, and the H2 was assembled at the AM General plant in Indiana.
And here is another interesting note: “One of the most impressive features of the modern Hummer is its amazing smoothness on any type of surface. A standard solid axle on leaf springs from a pickup truck is not a fighter in this regard, so GM engineers installed a fully independent double wishbone suspension on the prototype, with torsion bars and anti-roll bars. According to our impressions, no one was engaged in driving properties of the concept. It’s tough, but as far as we know, the production version will be much more refined.”
Alas, the commodity SUV did not surprise in terms of the chassis. The rear independent circuit was abandoned. Instead, in order to reduce the cost and simplification, a continuous bridge with optional pneumatic elastic elements was used.
Initially, the classic General Motors power unit was installed on the H2 – a lower 6.0-liter “eight” (330 hp) and a four-speed automatic transmission. With it, the three-ton block accelerated to 97 km / h (60 mph) in 10.7 seconds and squeezed under 160 km / h.
In addition to the bulky station wagon body, they offered a dashing and slightly stupid SUT (Sport Utility Truck) pickup truck. If the cargo pocket does not suit you, you can fold the wall between the passenger compartment and the body, fold back the back sofa and get a platform up to 244 cm long.
H2 tried to look like his world-famous dad, but globally differed from him even in small things. For example, he never got a centralized tire inflation system. And the decorative brackets near the air intake on the hood in the style of powerful hinges on the H1 are a mockery! Recall that at the warriors they were attached to the power structure and for them the car was attached to the helicopter.
However, part of the claims evaporated in motion – the car showed its best qualities. “It is surprisingly comfortable to ride, given its gigantic size,” Car and Driver magazine noted after the first test of a commercial copy. “The interior looks quite distinctive, especially in light of the amount of detail from the Tahoe and Suburban. A vertically mounted flat windshield does not create very strong aerodynamic noise. Off-road capability is decent, although AM General doesn’t make any components for the H2. Let’s call a spade a spade. Before us is a giant to intimidate all other SUVs. But the Hummer will probably scare its drivers the most when they have to park in tight spaces.”
“The original Humvee has always excelled in the two disciplines of off-roading and drawing attention to itself. On the other hand, the H1 is unpleasant to drive and impractical as an everyday car. H2 is good where big brother loses. It’s comfortable and spacious, and fun to ride on and off the pavement. In two days on rocky off-road terrain in Utah, we were able to verify that the H2 could handle obstacles almost as well as the H1 (we know this because we were accompanied by one). But it is more civilized and costs half as much.”
The guys from Motor Trend were also impressed: “In the mud, the H2 is almost unstoppable. The short front and almost non-existent rear overhang provide incredible geometric cross-country ability. Climbing and descending from any obstacle turns out to be a simple task. Ground clearance of more than 25 cm and a soft suspension allow you to gracefully overcome impressive obstacles. In case of a really difficult route, the protection of the units under the bottom is provided.
Sounds flattering. Especially in light of the fact that the civil “Hammer” is structurally much simpler than the H1, and its three tons of curb weight is a serious anchor on rough terrain. However, the SUV is capable of storming half a meter fords and climbing ledges over 400 mm high.
In 2008 – a year before the end of production – H2 appeared in a modernized form. The old power unit was replaced by a combination of an aluminum six-and-two V8 engine with phase shifters (398 hp and 574 Nm) and a six-speed automatic transmission 6L80.
The salon of pre-styling cars is rude. Deliberately brutal chopped forms, cheap plastic… After the renovation, the interior looks more presentable. Mercy of a new instrument panel and center console with a monitor for multimedia, a navigation system and images from a rear view camera, rectangular deflectors instead of round eyes that were callous, other seats and door panels.