Junkyard Gem: 2006 Hummer H3 SUV


After General Motors bought the rights to the Hummer brand from AM General in 1999, it continued to sell the civilianized versions of the military HMMWV that was made famous after appearing in the heavily televised Operation Desert Storm. The Hummer H1 (as it became known) never sold in large numbers, but The General decided to make everyman Hummers based on existing GM truck platforms. The Silverado-based H2 came first, debuting as a 2003 model, followed by the Colorado-based H3 as a 2006 model. Here’s one of those first-year H3s, found in a Denver self-service car graveyard recently.

16 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Now it’s time for some Hummer brand history. After the American Motors Corporation bought Kaiser Jeep in 1970, it spun off the fleet and military parts of that operation into a new company called AM General. The best-known AM General products for many years were the Jeep DJ Dispatchers, generally called “Mail Jeeps,” and they were sold all the way through 1984.

24 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

1984 was also the year that the United States Army put the first AM General-built High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV, which soldiers pronounced “Humvee” at first but eventually adopted the “Hummer” nickname). Around the same time, militarized VW-powered sand rails were being purchased from Chenowth by Uncle Sam. After Arnold Schwarzenegger convinced AM General to build civilianized Hummers, sales of the not-so-civilized brute that became the H1 began in 1992.

43 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The H2 and H3 had the misfortune to be launched just before the Great Recession hit and fuel prices went crazy, while a couple of overseas conflicts that were much less popular than Gulf War I made grim headlines and reduced the street appeal of combat-inspired civilian wheels. The H1 got the axe in 2006; GM tried and failed to sell the Hummer brand to a Chinese manufacturer in 2010, as it struggled through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, finally giving up and killing the brand alongside Pontiac, Saturn and Saab.

2023 gmc hummer ev 317

Then the Hummer name was revived in 2022 as an electron-fueled GMC model, and you can buy a 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV right now (though GMC’s website warns of “LIMITED AVAILABILITY” in big red letters, so you might have a hard time actually taking delivery of one).

29 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The final 2010 H3s were built for Avis at Shreveport Operations, which itself shut down two years later.

42 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Just as is the case with the MINI and the LEAF, everyone is supposed to mash the CAPS LOCK key when they type HUMMER, but I refuse to play that marketing game (likewise with the all-lower-case smart fortwo, as well as any vehicle with a punctuation mark in its annoying name).

04 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The H3 lived on the GMT355 platform, which underpinned the first-generation Chevy Colorado and its GMC Canyon and Isuzu I-Series siblings.

11 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Only one trim level of the ’06 H3 SUV was available, and its MSRP was $28,935 with the base five-speed manual transmission (which almost no H3 buyers wanted). That price comes to about $45,574 after inflation.

19 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The engine is a member of the GM Atlas family, in this case a 3.5-liter DOHC straight-five rated at 220 horsepower and 225 pound-feet.

07 2006 Hummer H3 in Colorado junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Someone must have bought an H3 with a five-on-the-floor manual, but it wasn’t the original purchaser of today’s Junkyard Gem.

Get yours for just $369/month!



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