Courtesy of Russo and Steele
This classic Black 2000 Hummer H1 is powered by a GM 6.5-liter turbodiesel engine upgraded with a RapTorque engine-boost kit to nearly 295 horsepower for ease of operation in today’s highly demanding freeway-driving conditions. The GM 4-speed automatic transmission features the Torque Trak system to assist in difficult off-road driving conditions. The new Electronic Differential Lock system (E-Lockers) has made it virtually impossible for the current owner to get the vehicle stuck.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2000 Hummer H1
Years Produced:1992–2006
Number Produced:11,818
Original List Price:$40,500 (1992) to $150,000 (2006)
SCM Valuation:$35k–$70k
Tune Up Cost:$500-plus
Distributor Caps:N/A
Chassis Number Location:In driver’s door jamb, near dash
Engine Number Location:Top left rear of engine block
Club Info:The Hummer Club
Alternatives:2014 Ford Raptor, 2014 Local Motors Rally Fighter, bobbed AM General M35 Deuce and a Half
Investment Grade:D

This vehicle, Lot F461, was sold for $60,500, including buyer’s premium, at Russo and Steele’s 13th Annual Monterey auction on August 15–17, 2013.

For a machine so brutally honest in purpose and design, the Hummer is probably the most misunderstood and eagerly stigmatized vehicle in America.

Like the AR-15 assault rifle, the Hummer has come to be seen as both a decisively American instrument of freedom and a heavy-handed reflection of the “too much is never enough” mantra that has so deeply rooted itself in our national persona. Instruments of war often struggle to find their place in civilian life once they return home, and the Hummer is no exception.

Storm the parking lot

The HMMWV, or Humvee, first grabbed the public’s attention in the early 1990s, when images of American glory in the sands of Kuwait began to be piped into living rooms and schoolhouses across the heartland. With their enormous track width, high ground clearance and purposeful ruggedness, Humvees were the personification of the brawn, toughness, and dedication to the cause so proudly embodied by our soldiers. The nation was unified in victory, and the Humvee stood as an iconic representation of that success.

Those were powerful images, and celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger reacted to them, lobbying voraciously for a civilian variant so they could play tough guy on the weekends. AM General complied, and the Hummer, as it was now being called, was first released for public sale in 1992.

Fall from grace

Seven years later, General Motors got in on the action by purchasing the marketing and distribution rights for all AM General-produced Hummers. In an attempt to capitalize on the Hummer’s hero status, GM soon put forward plans to build two new, more soccer-mom friendly variations on the theme. When the new models, the H2 and H3, were introduced, the original Hummer was relabeled the H1.

Ironically, these two new vehicles, and the H2 in particular, managed to incur the wrath of the average American. Many saw the H2 as the ultimate poseur — built on a GM truck chassis with go-anywhere looks and go-to-the-mall capabilities, all the while getting horrible fuel mileage. If the Hummer was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, as was suggested in original promotional material, then the H2 was a sheep in a cheap coyote costume.

Unfortunately, the image of the Hummer H1 and its exceptional athleticism got caught up in careless brand mismanagement, overzealous Hollywood muscley types, and the American media machine. In this era of “clean” this and “eco” that, the broad-shouldered, alpha-male Hummer became everything the skinny-jeaned Prius is not. Production of the H1 ceased in 2006, and GM killed the Hummer brand in 2009.

Whatchu lookin’ at?

If you plan on parking a Hummer in your garage, you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into. For starters, it’s about three feet wider than a standard commuter car, weighs 7,000 pounds, and gulps about a gallon of diesel for every 10 miles covered.

It was engineered to operate outside the bounds of proper lane changes and courtesy honks. Its 16 inches of ground clearance trumps just about every truck this side of Bigfoot, but, thanks to its raised drivetrain, it is also incredibly more stable than any parking lot cowboy’s Z-71 on boggers.

It can muck through 30 inches of water all day long, clamber up 22-inch-high steps, tackle approach angles of an insane 72 degrees, devour 60-degree inclines, and traverse 40% side slopes. Perhaps most impressive, it was designed to hold up to a minimum of 12 years of abuse at the hands of teenage drivers. In short, the Hummer is not a toy, nor is it a Sunday cruiser. It is a loud, obnoxious mammoth of a machine, and is built for the country, not the club.

In fact, its abilities are ridiculously over the top for anything remotely related to real-world use. Calling it showing off just seems a bit too considerate. Here’s a good example: Imagine Alex Rodriguez showing up at your annual company softball game and strutting around the bases, kissing his biceps each time he takes your accountant’s underhand lob deep. Similarly, showing up in a Hummer to splash through the local mud hole probably won’t earn you much respect, unless you’re only there to prove you can get it stuck. Spoiler alert: you probably can’t.

But for the buyer who truly wants to be able to go anywhere — jungle, desert, riverbed, rock crawl, mud pit, and the corner 7-11 — there’s no better choice.

Capability for the buck

In 2011, at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale, I happened upon a Hummer that was used as a support vehicle for Robby Gordon’s Dakar Rally effort (ACC# 191742). It looked very much like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Decked out with its racks and lights and dual spares, that Hummer might as well have had a mail-slot in the driver’s door labeled “Lunch Money.” Apart from a top-fuel dragster, that beast was probably the most intimidating vehicle I had ever seen. I loved it, and so did a few bidders, as it sold for just under $74,000.

Prices for new Hummers were once sky-high, falling somewhere between $120,000 and $150,000 when public sales ceased in 2006. Compared to that, the $35k–$70k that the same models bring in today’s market seems incredibly reasonable. That’s a lot of capability for the money.

The Hummer I saw in 2011 was well equipped, but it had more than likely been run through the wringer. Our example here is also fitted with racks, a winch and rear-view camera, as well as a number of performance upgrades. Still, it appears to have lived a much more pampered life, and at $60,500, it is most certainly the better pick of the two.

When you consider that a new Ford Raptor pickup — arguably the most capable off-roader currently offered in the American market — starts at $45,000, our Hummer looks like a screaming deal. Sure, the Raptor has boy-racer graphics and EcoBoost (Whew! You can still go to Starbucks!), but if you think it’s worthy of holding the Hummer’s beer when it comes time for a “Hey y’all, watch this!” you probably wouldn’t know a snatch block from a stirrup.

Regardless of why you need one of these — you’re an adventure seeker, a Rambo or a company-softball-game Alex Rodriguez — you can’t argue with the price point here. Very well bought.

(Introductory descriptions courtesy of Russo and Steele.

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