H1, H2, H3: Know Your Hummers

No matter how you slice it, the Hummer is recognisable.

It’s like Mario or Mickey Mouse – you see one cruising down the road, you know what it is. You might not know specifics, and you might not want to, either.

First made back in 1979; AM General gave the world the HumVee for the US Army. The vehicle was a hit, with about 55,000 of them being made and coming in five different models. Civilian models rolled out of the factories in 1992, along with a new name: Hummers.

Too bad production ended around 2010. The situation does make the existing ones more valuable, though.

The hummer tends to come in three basic styles. Conveniently, they’re called the H1, H2, and H3. Clean, simple, and remarkably easy to remember.

The H1 is the classic design, built for military use. The look, which is pretty utilitarian and robust, first hit pop culture in the Gulf War.

Civilian models of the H1 started rolling around in 1992. Four-wheel drive by design, the first batch had 16 inches of ground clearance.

Since they were expected to encounter many types of terrain, each built to wade through up to 30 inches of water. Obstacles up to 22 inches in height weren’t a problem, either. Sometimes the army didn’t have time to go around rough terrain, you know?

The problem with the H1 was how wide it was. City driving and parking was a challenge. Despite the size, there wasn’t much room to relax or for cargo.

Whether or not you consider the fuel efficiency to be a problem is up to you, but fuel costs tend to be higher than average.

In 2003, the H2 design came around.

The H2 was less concerned with the military, so it added a few bits and pieces for civilian use. More legroom and a third-row bench appeared, along with seats that are more comfortable. Navigation systems and safety features also came with the design.

H2 designs were better for city driving but were still massive enough to make parking difficult. The engines were still guzzling fuel like nobody’s business.

Finally, the tradeoff for all the “civilian” features was a loss of some of the robustness of the military model. You lost about 10 inches of ground clearance.

However, it’s still a formidable off-road vehicle and can seat up to four people.

The H3 came out in 2006 and was apparently built for everyday use – more so than the H2.

There were less overall power and a lower sticker price. The engine standard at first was a 3.5 V8 but upgraded to a 3.7 later on. The last model to come out was a 5.7 V8.

The H3 had nine inches of ground clearance, and you had the choice of adding off-road suspension. Anti-lock braking, airbags, and traction control came standard.

Sure, they stopped making them back in 2010, but the Hummer remains an incredible piece of work. The machines might be flawed, but there’s a certain mystique to the vehicle that makes people love it.