– This episode of Up to Speed is brought to you by Squarespace. (engine revving) It’s not a car, it’s not a truck, it’s not just another four by four, it’s a wolf in wolf’s clothing. It’s a tank in the form of a car in the form of a tank! It can drive over anything, up anything, and through anything. It wasn’t meant for us,
it was built for war. I don’t care what you drive, dawg. It’s bigger, it’s tougher, and the only reason that
we’re allowed to buy one is because The Terminator said so. This is everything you need to know to get up to speed on the Hummer. (upbeat electronic music) In the early 80’s the American military was bidding for a new transport vehicle that could carry troops
and heavy cargo anywhere. In other words, they
needed a high mobility, multipurpose, wheeled vehicle or himovv, himvr, what, how am I saying this wrong? (man speaks indistinctly) What, H-M-M, hummv? The H-M-M-W-V, hmmwvr. The winning bid went to
AM General Corporation, which created a machine
that had the raw presence of a nuclear blast! It could transport heavy equipment through the worst terrain. It could cross rivers and
get up and over slopes that would stop basically anything else. It had a switch that could
inflate or deflate the tires on the go and its axle track was designed to be so wide that it
could slip into the tracks left by tanks, tanks! Plus it could be dropped out of a plane wearing its own friggin’ parachute. AM General was awarded a
one billion dollar contract to mass produce the
Hmmwvr to the US military. And by the late 80’s,
they were in the field. They called it the Humvee, because that was easier to say than Hmmwvr and it accompanied American troops during the invasion of Panama in 1989 and during the Gulf War in 1991. The Humvee was adapted
for all sorts of roles. The ambulance, communication station, and my personal favorite,
frickin’ rocket launcher. Let me make one thing
abundantly crystally clear, the Humvee was a military vehicle, designed for the military
for military use. It’s like a Black Hawk helicopter or an aircraft carrier,
an F18 Superhornet. The Hummer was never ever
intended for ordinary people or ordinary roads (burps), but there’s one thing the US
military never saw coming, Arnold freakin’ Schwarzenegger! (chuckles) It’s 1990, Arnold
Schwarzenegger is the biggest action movie star in the world and not just physically by physically too. While taking a break from shooting the classic Kindergarten Cop, “Are you eating other
people’s sandwiches, stop it.” – Stop it. – And somehow, like,
Arnold’s like, “Uh, yo, like, “I’m in this situation
now, I love your mom “and I’m your kindergarten teacher, “time to karate battle
your mom’s boyfriend.” My mom had some boyfriends
and I wish there was an Arnold to kick the (bleep) out of them. Luckily, now I’m the Arnold, so, I’ll buy you a plane ticket, Steve. I will fly you to LA to kick your (bleep). Steve’s a real guy. (swooshing) Steve (bleep), I hate you. Arnold met his spirit animal as he saw a convoy of Hummers
passing him on the road. It was love at first sight. He was like, “Yo, what is that
big-ass flat-looking jeep? “That’s like the perfect
car for me, can I get one?” Uh, yo, are you Arnold Schwarzenegger? “Yeah, I am.” Listen, man, I’m stoked
that you like my car and all but you can’t buy one of these ’cause it’s for military use only. “I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger,
I can have whatever I want.” AM had already kicked around the idea of a civilian model but with
the Terminator’s backing they bumped it up to the
top of their priority list. In 1992, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Mr. Olympia, received the very first civilian
version branded the Hummer, of course, as a civilian model, this one didn’t have any
rocket launchers on it. – Ah, there’s no rocket. They forgot to put the rocket
in there, dude, I’m so sorry. – But it was more or less
the same overall design. So, it could still drive up,
over, and through anything. It could still inflate or
deflate its tires on the go and it was still really,
really, really big, just like my dad. Remember at this time movie heroes are enormous hulks of muscle. The Soviet Union had just collapsed and America was frickin’ stoked. Gas prices were cheap, in other words, subtlety and restraint were not words in our national vocabulary. America wanted big, they wanted bold, they wanted a Hummer,
who cared if it weighed 10,000 pounds and gets
10 miles to the gallon, (chuckles) literally. In fact, in a very real sense,
that was the entire point. It cost about 50 grand and barely squeezed into most garages. The Hummer was not expected
to be a mass market car and that too became a part of the appeal. A Hummer badge was like a Ferrari badge. If you had one, it meant you had money and you weren’t afraid to spend it. It was drivable bling. By the late 90’s it had
become a celebrity hallmark. Everybody from Coolio,
Ted Turner, Tom Clancy, Andre Agassi, the four coolest,
most famous dudes ever, all drove Hummers. The Hummer was a metaphor
for America in the 90’s. Enormous, expensive, rugged, unstoppable, gas guzzling, decadent, (thunders)
and in your frickin’ face. And as you can imagine, not all of those went over very well. The Hummer became a symbol
for excess and egotism and environmentalists absolutely
hated its fuel consumption. Still, whether respected or reviled, there aren’t many cars that have caused such strong reactions from
so many people so quickly. That was the sheer presence of the Hummer. In 1999 GM bought the rights to the Hummer off of AM General, where AM General put their military machine in the hands of an exclusive few, GM wanted the Hummer to become a true mass market brand. The result came in 2002
with the release of the car’s baby brother, the H2. This model of Hummer was lithe and toned instead of muscle bound and bulky. Weighing in at a dainty 8,600 pounds. Never one to miss a sequel, Schwarzenegger was personally involved in the development of the H2. As much as he loved the
raw size of the original, he wanted the H2 to be a bit
more manageable on the road and also compete as a modern luxury car. People bought them in droves. Again, the gas guzzling
thing lead to a backlash from environmentalists and some of them got pretty crazy about it. In 2003, 40 Hummer H2s were set ablaze at a dealership in California in an eco terrorist attack carried out by the Earth Liberation Front. More seriously and sadly,
these weren’t the only terrorists the car was facing. The original military Humvee was now deployed in wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq and, believe it or not, for all
of its incredible ruggedness the Humvee was never
designed to be shot at. As IEDs became more and
more common in war zones, the lightly armored
Humvees just weren’t able to protect their occupants. The Pentagon began shopping around for a new transport vehicle and the Humvee was relegated to backline duty. Back home, people began shopping
around for new models too. Rising gas prices and increasing
environmental awareness both cut into the Hummer brand deeply. The heavy days of 90’s
excess were a distant memory and the Hummer now looked gaudy where it once looked
gaudy but in a good way. Plus, with two wars dragging on, military chic is just sorta douchey. – [Together] Yeah, so? – General Motors tried to save the brand with the release of the H3 in 2005. The smallest Hummer model ever. Weighing in at 5,800 pounds. The smallest one was three tons. And GM increased the fuel economy to a whopping 16 miles per gallon. Hummer also tries to prove that their cars are for more than just big dudes by making ads for women too but it was just too little, too late and in 2009, the global financial meltdown makes any kind of luxury spending uncool, plus it bankrupts General Motors. As part of GM’s chapter 11 restructuring, they tried to spin off the
Hummer brand to a new owner and they actually found an
interested party in rural China. Unfortunately, the Chinese
government stepped in and killed the deal. China was in the process of cleaning up its environmental image and purchasing the most polluting car
brand in the world ever didn’t exactly fit with that ideal. Out of options, General Motors
shut down Hummer for good. In the end, the Hummer
was about pure presence. Nothing looked like it, nothing towered over traffic like it. It was a statement with four wheel drive. It was a car that said, “I am huge and I like huge things,” (twinkles)
Jessica. It served America and
its allies in wartime and at home it was a symbol of luxury whose excess would be its own undoing. The Hummer is a visual icon like almost no other
vehicle has ever been. It’s not a car, it’s not a truck, it’s not just another four
by four, it’s a Hummer. This episode of Up to
Speed is brought to you by Squarespace, whether you need a domain, website, or online store,
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Squarespace supports us. If you make a website, I’ll go to it. I’ll make a t-shirt of it and wear it. This is everything you need to know to get up to speed on the Hummer. What’s your favorite Arnold
Schwarzenegger movie? Do you guys think I should get super buff? (giggles) What’s the biggest car you’ve ever owned? Follow me on Instagram @JamesPumphrey. Follow Donut on Instagram @DonutMedia. We got merch shop dot donut dot media.

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