Bob Lutz’s Company VLF Is Building Humvees for China
The Hummer H1 returns, but Americans can’t buy them.
The Hummer brand is still dead, but their most famous product is not. A small company called Humvee Export that does exactly what you think has made a deal with VLF Automotive, a boutique car company lead by former Boeing executive Gilbert Villarreal, industry legend Bob Lutz, and master designer Henrik Fisker. According to Car and Driver, VLF is building the trucks and Humvee Export will be shipping them to China.
If you’re not familiar with VLF Automotive, they make insane low-volume high-end luxury cars. Their products include the Destino V8 which is like a Fisker Karma with a Corvette ZR-1 engine, a heavily modified Mustang called the Rocket V8, and my personal favorite, the Force 1 V10 which is a two-seater with a Viper engine under the hood and a leather champagne holder between the seats.
How does VLF get away with building Hummers? First of all, they’re not calling them Hummers because the name is still owned by General Motors. This new incarnation of the H1 is called the Humvee C-Series. AM General, the original manufacturer of the HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle) sells what they call the C-Series kit. The C-Series kit costs $60,000 and comes with everything you need to build your own Humvee except the drivetrain.
The finished product is more closely related to the military spec Humvee than the old production H1. The main aesthetic difference is the grille sticking out noticeably farther. One engine option in the Humvee C-Series is a 6.5-liter diesel V8 available in different power ratings (190 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque; 205 horsepower and 440 lb-ft; and 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft). The gas option is the GM LS3 6.2-liter V8 making 430 horsepower and 424 lb-ft of torque. This is the motor that powered the C6 Corvette from 2008-2013, the manual Camaro SS from 2010-2015, and various Holdens.
Unfortunately, if you want to spend $150,000 on a vehicle that gets 5 mpg in the States, you’re out of luck. This doesn’t fall under the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act that allows you to buy a new Delorean because technically the Humvee is still in production by AM General due for replacement by the Oshkosh Defense JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) in early 2018.