Hey look, an asshole!, or hey look at that guy in the Hummer H2

23 05 2009

The Hummer, the iconic SUV that has now synonymous with the downfall of General Motors is reaching the end of its trek.  How the public came to see this frankencar built on the Tahoe frame as a car driven by right wing gun nuts and assholes across the nation is quite a story.  I have something to say about how I was introduced to the Hummer H2 and after falling in love with its design and look, now feel like I had an affair with a salvaged-title shitbox for a week.  I will admit that for a month or so, I wanted an H2 because their popularity was soaring and the Eco-green backlash had not gathered steam.  This was before gas was $4.59 in Maryland and $4.29 in Virginia, in fact no one even suggested that gas prices would soon reach record highs.

Hummer dealerships were popping up across the country, usually integrated into an anchor luxury dealership such as Cadillac, but sometimes Chevrolet dealerships, GM wanted to assign as much prestige to its new badge to appeal to the discerning customer.  One who didn’t want to choose between a Tahoe or Yukon because peasants could afford those, no the H2 even got diehard Ford customers to cross over.  If you could afford it, pulling up in one of the early H2’s was met with as much gawking and head-turning appeal as a Ferrari in rural Appalatchia.  The majority of the first production runs was the currently fading Yellow.  Yellow H2’s were the only Hummers you saw, until the even uglier Sand-beige metallic’s announced their arrival on the front lines of local dealerships.  The cool colors came out after the guys who paid 5-10k over sticker to get first shot at ownership were wanting to trade in their 2004’s to get a Red, Black, Blue or White model and unload the ugly yellow or beige.

The one right thing GM did to load their pockets was to have a stipulation in a Hummer Dealerships contract, its simply stated that if you want to sell and service new Hummers, you must build a dedicated Hummer dealership adjacent to your current Cadilliac or other GM showroom by January of 2007.  While these things were being sold and pre-loaded with up to 20k worth of accesories (real profit) dealership owners were jumping on board and spending millions to build the factory approved new car showrooms, the sybollic arch of white over a plate glass fascia that now sit empty across the country.

One example of Hummer=fail, and a keen deal for the win can be seen on Rt. 7 in Tyson’s Corner Virginia, one of the worst congested strips of four lanes in the country is home to over 16 new car dealerships, dubbed dealership row.  Dealership row is where Washington’s elite comes to purchase the latest and greatest vehicles, often above MSRP sticker price.  At the end of this strip was home of Moore Cadillac/Hummer, it had been there since the early 80’s Mr. Moore whom had done very well in this unique market area selling Cadillacs to diplomats, ambassadors, and normal customers alike.  Moore was a fine dealership and had earned a loyal customer base, and employed several people with well paying jobs.  Moore was one of the first big Hummer dealers in the Mid-Atlantic region, many salespeople got wealthy in a short couple years with H2’s and the flagship H1.  Moore spent some 15 million dollars on a new parking structure and another few million on a stand alone Hummer showroom.  Right as the gas crisis hit and sales plummeted, Mr. Moore accepted an $80 million dollar offer for his land for the future Tyson’s Corner Metro station.  What luck, the irony of a former Hummer dealership getting bulldozed to make way for mass transit is humorous at least, but taking the money and getting out of that terrible GM contract is a blessing in disguise.

Other less fortunate Washington area Hummer dealerships fell victim to the record gas prices and then the exodus of consumer credit on new vehicle purchases.  This was right after the rucus over the 12 mpg that the H2 gets on the highway, and advertisements around Washington were sprayed with graffiti proclaiming “real men die in their Hummers” in response to hundreds of soldiers in Iraq getting killed in H1’s by roadside bombs.  Suddenly the 7 bar Hummer grill was not so stylish to be seen behind anymore.  In some suburbs there were a few Hummers vandalized by so called “eco-terrorists” who think all Hummers should be crushed.  I will even admit that when I see someone driving an H2 I feel like “damn that guy has no idea how frowned upon those trucks are”.  H1’s are rarely sighted but when they are many are covered in mud as they should be, the ultimate offroad machine (sorry jeep guys, but you know its true).

The point of this Hummer story is that its perhaps one of the clearest examples of how GM has been shooting itself in the foot for the past 3 decades.  They spend too much building a niche product that has a VERY limited lifespan and saleability, and soak their dealers to aquire the product.  They build too many, and flood the market driving down the inflated sticker prices, and then are forced to unload the backstock with employee purchase programs making less than $500 dollars a car (again the dealer suffers).  So if you the angry consumer wonder why you are being forced into imports as GM begs for money to pay its pensions and other past screwups, remember they brought this ENTIRELEY on themselves.  Sweep the leg, no mercy.

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One response

30 06 2009
Dana Huffman

Extremely well said. The vehicle has always had people gawking, first in envy, now in disgust. i recently had the misfortune of having to drive on route 7. One hour there and you will not want to drive for a couple weeks. I was cut off on both sides by two different cars who almost took each other out. It is ironic how bad the traffic is next to so many dealerships side by side. By the way, is it ok to sneer at the Hummers from my hybrid SUV?

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