The Hummer was a civilian vehicle, which based its design on vehicles used by the U.S. military during the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s. However, while the Hummer brand only came into existence in 1992, the company can trace its roots back to the Jeeps that were produced by the Willys-Overland company during World War II.

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Hummer After World War II

During the postwar period, a surplus of Jeeps found its way into the American used car market. The Jeeps proved so popular that a version was created to market to civilian drivers. The success of Jeep as a brand helped paved the way for the Hummer. But more importantly, the division of Jeep that produced vehicles for the military eventually evolved into AM General, the company that designed the prototype for the Hummer in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The company, which by then was known as AM General, designed a vehicle dubbed the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, most commonly known as the Humvee. The military liked the design and AM General won a five-year contract to deliver 55,000 vehicles.

The Humvee first saw action during the 1991 Gulf War, after which AM General decided to release a consumer version. Known as the Hummer, it made its debut in 1992 when what would later become known as the H1 was introduced as the brand’s first offering. In 1998, GM acquired the brand and continued to manage it until its demise in 2010.

Hummer Through The Years

Released in the early 1990s, the original AM General Hummer was introduced at just the right time to catch the wave of SUV mania that swept over the American auto market for more than a decade. It was a premium make riding high on the heels of popularity from its wartime use and celebrity endorsement.

The original Hummer (what would become the H1) sold well for a few years, but when GM acquired the company in 1998, the company released two alternate versions of the Hummer. The H2 and the H3 were later introduced, both of which were constructed on smaller, non-military-based platforms. The H2 was slightly smaller than the original model H1, while the H3 was the smallest vehicle.

Unfortunately, while Hummer flourished during the SUV craze, its viability as a brand began to seriously flounder as American drivers began to backlash against sport utility vehicles. The economic downturn of 2008 further threatened the viability of high-priced, bulky, conspicuously gas-guzzling vehicles like the Hummer.

GM eventually attempted to sell the brand off to a Chinese manufacturing conglomerate in 2009. However, the arrangement fell through with some reports indicating that the Chinese ministry of commerce blocked the deal. GM was ultimately left with no choice, and in 2010 the Hummer brand was discontinued altogether.

Hummer Models

Released in 1992, the original AM General Hummer was based on the Humvee used by the military during the Gulf War. A rugged, four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle, the Hummer was enormously popular when it was first released, taking advantage of the 1990s SUV craze. However, ultimately the Hummer’s high cost of operation, as most models achieved well below 20 mpg on the highway, priced it out of the reach of many American drivers.

The first all-new model after GM acquired the Hummer name (officially designating the brand Hummer) H2 was introduced in 2003, about five years after GM took over the Hummer brand. Slimmer than the H1, which was based on a military Humvee, the H2 was taller with more headroom and could carry five passengers versus the H1's four. Loaded with features, the H2 was a spacious premium vehicle mounted on the frame of a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle. Unfortunately, the H2’s poor fuel economy, which was estimated to be between 9-12 mpg, led it to falling out of favor with America drivers. It came as either a closed-back SUV or with a small truck bed as the H2 SUT.

The H3 was significantly smaller than the H2. Released in 2005, the H3 was built by GM and was available either as a standard midsize SUV or as a midsize pickup version of an SUV, known as the H3T.

Hummer Products and Technologies

Hummer may have a shorter history than many automotive manufacturers, but it certainly left its mark. At the height of its popularity, Hummers were a trademark of the rich and famous. Massively expensive to operate, hugely boxy and entirely conspicuous, Hummers were always in a different class from the toughened up minivan alternatives that occupied much of the SUV market during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The discontinuation of the Hummer brand is perhaps not so much a reflection of the quality of its vehicles as it was a sign of the times. Ostentatiousness and conspicuous consumption may have flourished during the economically go-go days of the 1990s tech boom and the early 2000s real estate boom. However, in the post economic downtown, the Hummer very closely mirrored the belt-tightening that the rest of the country faced.

Select a HUMMER Model


2006, 2004-2002 | SUV, Truck, Utility/Offroad


2009-2003 | SUV, Truck, Utility/Offroad

The Hummer H2 is a full-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was produced by General Motors from 2003 until 2009.


2010-2006 | SUV, Utility/Offroad


2010-2009 | SUV, Truck, Utility/Offroad

General Motors introduced the Hummer H3T for the 2009 model year.