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The Terminator

 

Nothing ho-hum about H1

It’s as big and as bold as the man who first took it on to civilian roads – Arnold (The Terminator) Schwarzenegger – the movie star turned governor of California.

As the big truck rumbles along Westhaven Drive, I can’t help wondering how big Arney folded his immense frame into a cockpit that seems cramped for a vehicle this size.

This is a 1999 H1, a roadgoing version of the standard US military workhorse. It has been converted to right-hand drive and has been Vin-ed and complied recently.

This is a civilian Hummer, at least now, and it has a concession to civilisation – the seats are leather-trimmed buckets.

The other surprise is the ride. It’s compliant and soaks up the speed humps as if they weren’t there. You get the feeling the four-wheel drive would drive over walls.

Owner Brian bought the car in New Zealand, and says it has an interesting history. “Originally it was apparently owned by the Italian army who sold it to the Chinese. But the US army put a hold on the deal and the car was impounded in Hong Kong. The guy I got it off bought in off a wharf in Hong Kong.”

The limited edition H1 had been built originally in 1993 and was one of the first roadgoing H1s, but it didn’t actually take to the road until 1999.

Since it has been here, the H1 has spent most of its time in storage. “I haven’t been using it a lot. I’ve been driving it around getting it Vin-ed and complied. It had been off the road for four years. Getting parts to meet the Vin and compliance requirements wasn’t difficult. I found parts on the web, and UPS brought them in, as quickly as two days after ordering them.”

It’s not a quick vehicle. “You wouldn’t use it to get anywhere in a hurry,” says Brian. General Motors’ official website says the turbodiesel engine develops 145kW and 583Nm, the latter at 1800rpm.

GM quotes a top speed of 134kph. Despite its size, Brian says the diesel-powered (6.5-litre V8) H1 isn’t too tough on gas. Though this is a civilian Hummer, its interior is pretty spartan. It has wind-up windows and no central door-locking but a four-speed automatic takes care of gearchanges.

Brian rates the H1 as “not bad to drive. It’s pretty heavy and it’s a big vehicle. Part of it is getting used to handling such a big thing.”

The Hummer gets strong reactions from other motorists and passers-by. “People look at you as if you’re driving down the road in a tank. “Some even cheer when they see it coming along the road.”

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