Saturday, July 12, 2008

No, We Don't Need Hummers

UPDATE: The link takes you to a column by Matthew DeBord at the If you have trouble with it, I apologize profusely and promise to do whatever it takes to rectify the problem.

You know, if you're going to do a (satirical? No, too earnest) ode to a vehicle that might disappear, you do it to an actual vehicle that is worth driving. And the Hummer isn't that vehicle. Let it go. Let it die. The commercial version is worthless and the HUMVEE used by our troops has been an awful vehicle. Too many went to war without the right armor and too many troops have been injured or killed in what I, personally feel is an underpowered lemon not worth driving anywhere but to the junkyard.
When General Motors announced that it would subject its Hummer division to what in the automotive business is known as a "review," you could hear the tree huggers, the unreconstructed hippies, the postmodern Greens, Al Gore's organic peanut gallery, every single customer at the Pasadena Whole Foods and the United Prius Owners of America shove aside their alfalfa sprouts and commence clapping.

No set of wheels since the hapless Edsel has been as persistently reviled as the Hummer. Just recall the Hummer damaged by masked eco-vigilantes in the District last year.

GM probably didn't see that coming when it purchased Hummer as a brand name from AM General Corp. in 1999. AM General developed the Hummer in the late 1970s as the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, for tactical military applications. On the battlefield, it has enjoyed a successful 20-year run, despite issues regarding armor that have emerged during its service in Iraq. The civilian version that AM General builds for GM is another story.

Still, it would be a mistake for GM, assisted by the raving grease-monkey CPAs of Citibank, to sell the brand to an upstart carmaker in India or China or to breed it as a hybrid, as some have suggested. GM desperately needs an obnoxious, attention-grabbing brand to keep from turning into a dreary shadow of its former self. And America needs the Hummer to remind us of what has always made our automobiles stand out, from the tailfin 1950s to the muscle car 1960s and '70s: swagger. Americans don't just drive their cars -- they proclaim something about themselves by driving them.

He goes on to say that there's something manly about driving and owning a Hummer. Well, if you're an idiot, sure. If you're insecure about your penis size, all the better. I know some people just love slapping that "sorry about your penis" decal on Hummers. But unless you've driven something that can actually go off road or something that resembles a vehicle with a working suspension, I don't know why there is this fascination for the box on wheels with the overly-high profile. It's not a toy--it's actually an awful vehicle to try to drive and ride around in.

I guess I spent too much time riding in them--that probably explains my bias. The ambulance version of the HUMVEE was, and always will be, something I will revile all of my life.

If you gave me one of these things, I wouldn't take it from you. I wouldn't.


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