Traveling through the busy streets of Sri Lanka, you see a plethora of vehicles. Everything from the everyday WagonRs and Vezels, to the ultra rare Jaguar Project 7 and Aston Martins, battle their way through traffic, blending into the backdrop of traffic and blaring horns. Not to say that some of these cars aren’t special, it’s just that sometimes in the exhaustion of the after-work commute home, our brains fail to recognize.
There is an exception though. A vehicle that no matter how tired you are, or how little you know about cars, will make you look twice (and probably a third time too). In our little streets, a giant roams.
This Hummer H1 is the only one of its kind in South Asia, and is owned by Iroshan Sarathchandra, Founder/Chairman Auto Miraj Group of Companies. Used as a promotional vehicle for Auto Miraj, this giant usually makes an appearance during their events, quickly becoming the centre of attention wherever it’s parked.
|6.5L V8 Turbo Intercooler Engine||145kW/194hp @3400RPM||120mph/194kmph||GM 4L80-E 4 Speed Automatic|
Hummer closed its doors in May 2010, as the global and U.S. economies tanked. General Motors (GM), which owned Hummer, was facing bankruptcy itself, and a failed attempt to sell it to a Chinese heavy machinery manufacturer meant that Hummer was no more.
The company’s main success came through its military contracts for the HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle), aka Humvee), the civilian version of this become the H1. Though Hummer wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the list for the most successful vehicle brands, it still managed to be a global sensation. Even in Sri Lanka, we were exposed to the H1 on TV, as it drove along Lorenzo Lamas’s Harley Davidson on the show Renegade. Hummer made more inroads here when the H2 and H3 entered the local market. While not common, you do see them on the roads every so often.
Getting back to Iroshan’s H1, built in 1999, the Hummer H1 is TT4 ABS Special Edition Limited Edition model. Except for the 22 inch special alloy wheels, which were added aftermarket, it’s the original setup.
Everything about this vehicle is imposing, it dwarfs any other SUV on Sri Lankan roads today. Weighing it at 3.245 Tons (curb weight) and about 4.7m long, the H1 comes with brush guard (so you most definitely don’t want drive into it), safari style roof rack (which houses the spare tyre), and a lot of lights. The H1 isn’t the fancy, shiny, “I’m a playa”, Hummer (that’s more the H2), so the exterior is pretty basic. The only curves on the H1 are on its tyres, much like the Defenders, these vehicles have a military pedigree, and built with only function in mind. Built to tackle even the most hostile terrains, the H1 has a staggering ground clearance of 406.4mm. To put that into context, the 2015 Toyota Landcruiser Prado has a ground clearance of 220mm! Along with this staggering height, the H1 doesn’t come with any sort of step to help the driver or passengers get in. Basically, there are only two ways to get in and out of this, be really fit and look really cool, or use the method I opted for, and look like a complete fool trying to climb in (literally, climb in).
The inside of the H1 feels very different to outside. After looking at the all business, no frills exterior, you’d expect a interior focused on maximising passenger numbers and a lot of bare metal, but that’s not the case. With just 4 seats (including the driver), the interior is dominated by a massive dashboard and center console which runs across the two rows of seats. Each seat feels isolated, with a physical barrier between them.
Staring up front, the driver’s side feels like you’ve climbed into an old fighter aircraft, as you greeted with a dizzying array of levers, buttons and dials. You get two types of radios, one for listening to your favorite DJ playing yet another shrill voiced pop song, and there is a communication radio. If you turn on the former, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as the music comes through on a 7.1 surround sound Monsoon speak system. If you turn on the latter, you may get in trouble if you don’t know what you are doing (they are quite strict about it in Sri Lanka). I was told that there is night vision available, but I didn’t notice anything for that when I was in there and don’t know what the setup is here so I can’t really comment on it.
Switching to the front passenger seat is a stark contrast, as the only buttons on this side are for the windows. Walled off by the mountain of plastic that makes up the dash and center console, this probably is the dream seat of the moody teen who “wants space.” Practically though, this makes sense, as in the military version, this seat would be occupied by a gunner, so having nothing that they could accidently press during combat is the way to go. I know the H1 is a civilian version, but you must remember that both the H1 and the military Humvee were built on the same production line and share many of the same elements, so you have a lot of crossover between the two.
Now for the back seats. You don’t have as much space as you’d imagine, the boot space takes up most of the rear of the vehicle so legroom wise, this is more Economy Plus than Business Class. Again, almost nothing back here except the A/C vents. A wall separates the rear seats from the boot space, all of which is covered by beige carpeting that screams the 90s. The reason why most of the interior is taken up by the center console is due to the fact that they put a lot of focus on ground clearance. To do this, they’ve had to incorporate inboard brakes and portal gears which allow the drivetrain’s half shafts to sit higher (thus the need of larger transmission tunnel/center console).
Under the Hood and Performance
The 6.5L V8 churns out 194hp, allowing the H1 to 0 to 100kmph in about 17.2seconds, on its way to a top speed of 193kmph. While these numbers mean you will have difficulty catching up to most cars in a straight line drag race, once the the H1 starts moving there’s very little (short of a building) that will be able to stop it. The H1 is left hand drive, as per its original configuration, which means that it needs special permission to be driven in Sri Lanka. According to manufacturer data, the H1 has a maximum wading depth of ~76cm, and can climb a 56cm step, based on the standard equipment.
This isn’t by any means easy to drive, rear visibility is poor, and it’s so tall that you can’t see the road immediately in front of you. It takes a bit of steely nerve to drive this on the roads in Sri Lanka, so I wouldn’t really recommend this as a daily drive to anyone (not that you could get one anyways, they stopped making them in 2006!).