In 1979, the U.S. Army issued a request for a new vehicle design that could meet demanding standards, including the ability to modify the base vehicle for different missions. Chrysler Defense, Teledyne Continental and AM General submitted design proposals, and after extensive tests and revisions, the Army awarded AM General a $1.2 billion contract to produce their High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), better known as the

Humvee or Hummer


The Hummer plays an integral role in the Army's vehicle fleet. The U.S. Marines, Navy and Air Force also use Hummers in various military operations. AM General first offered a civilian version of the Hummer in 1992. In 1999, GM purchased the right to produce vehicles using the Hummer name, so now there are two lines of Hummers in production -- AM General's military vehicles and GM's civilian Hummers.

Hummers have made a huge impact on both military applications and civilian lifestyles. This versatile vehicle seems to embody complex -- and sometimes contradictory -- ideals, from utilitarian workhorse to the ultimate expression of machismo. Even as the military looks to replace HMMWVs as part of its Future Tactical Truck Systems (FTTS) program, the Hummer continues to be a symbol of the U.S. military's presence in combat zones around the world.

In 1992, AM General began to produce a four-wheel drive vehicle based off the military Hummer. They marketed it as "the world's most serious 4x4." The Hummer shared many of its military cousin’s features, including the brake traction control system that gives the Hummer the ability to adjust torque even when a wheel is completely off the ground. Off-road enthusiasts were overjoyed at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of a car that could tackle courses that would scare a Jeep driver. The car's safety rankings were very high -- but you'd probably expect that from a car originally designed for combat missions.

Civilian Hummers use the same chassis as the military Hummer, and AM General even uses the same manufacturing facilities to build them. From 1992 to 1995, the Hummer used a diesel engine (either a 6.2 or 6.5-liter engine, depending on the year). From 1995 to 1997, AM General experimented by producing a model that used a 5.7-liter gasoline V-8 engine. Unfortunately, the Hummer just weighed too much -- early Hummers weighed in at around 7,000 pounds (3,150 kilograms) -- and AM General went back to using diesel engines after 1997.

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