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I am currently on a extended leave as I was kindly given some extra time from my boss - "take as long as you want!" as things were getting a bit mental for my GF and I in Ghana... Anyway, I digress.
So, after 2 weeks in Andalucia doing a lot of exploring tracks in the beautiful Sierra Tejeda National Park in a Suzuki Jimny (which was great by the way - a real contrast to a heavy HZJ78) we decided to grab a fairly cheap flight to Namibia where I have always really fancied going. After a couple of days of 'net and calls it looked like a new 76 L/C station wagon or 105 series was the go. Sadly today I heard that the only larger sized 4x4 I can get is a Hummer H3
Now, this is not really my thing and I quite regularly ridicule a guy I know in Ghana with a H2, but to be honest I am quite excited about trying one. Anyway the girl I spoke to about it said it is damn comfy and actually pretty good off road. We will see! With traction control and rear locking diff I believe it to be quite a capable vehicle. Oh and with rear leaf springs it's primitive just like my troopy (well, sort off!). Two weeks traveling and mostly camping.
My one and only experience of a Hummer was towing it off a beach ramp where it had become embedded (to use a US Forces term) with the beach. To add insult to injury I was driving a 1958 short wheel base Landrover with a little 2.25 diesel engine which was just enough to get the Hummer moving and keep it moving. The bloody thing (Hummer) was so heavy that the wooden slats across the top of dunes started to crack under its weight, when it was on the dirt road we watched it literally sink into the ground.
I might add that the Hummer is not the only over priced piece of 4x4 crap that the little Landy pulled off that ramp - Landcruisers, Hi Luxes, Patrol come to mind.
The funny thing is that one of my son's mates in a <1975 VW Kombi (4x2) drove past us on one occasion much to the amusement of the crowd that would gather at these bogged vehicle festivals on Sunday afternoons.
You will love Namibia. It is lovely as you can really get away into genuine wilderness, a real rarity these days.
As for the car, a Hummer is wider than an 80 series - lots of the bush tracks are about an inch narrower than the cruiser, so it will get lots of scratches and may struggle to fit in some areas. It may also prove to be a real pain when you meet an oncoming vehicle in a single narrow sand track.
I saw lots of Nissan, Mitsibushi, Isuzu and Toyota 4x4 twin cabs all over the place in Namibia. If you are planning to get off the beaten track, I would recommend these ahead of the Hummer, and they are probably cheaper too...
PM me if you would like ideas and or track info..
Thanks for the replies guys, I knew/hoped this was going to stir up a few opinions! I personally agree with pretty much everything said here, and agree that 'lux or whatever would be better. As for weight and so, well it's GWV is considerably less than my '78 partially packed up and not filled up to the max with diesel and water, and I don't really see us doing hard core dune bashing, but if the opportunity arrises it will probably do better than my '78 or 105. As for width, yes compared to a Jimny or even a Troopy I am sure it will be an eye opener. On the other hand, as a fast gravel road tourer it has (suspension aside) the makings of a comfortable wagon - i.e. a bit of mass / wide track / long wheel base / 3.7L petrol automatic. It will be interesting to try it as the most modern electrically gadget governed 4x4 I have driven was a new Defender 2.4 so it will be interesting to compare. I guess it is curiosity as much as anything!
As to destinations, I am keeping distances comfortable as this is as much about a relaxing holiday Vs what I would call a 'trip'... So looks like Namib-Naukluft NP, Swakopmund/Skeleton Coast, Damaraland and Etosha. I have booked lodge type accomodation sort of every third night, and the H3 comes with full camping equip, fridge etc. Can't wait - currently in a wet and grey Passau (Bavaria).
Will post detailed opinion on the thing when back,
Have look at the N of Namibia too...
Goiing to Namibia with a 4x4 and not going N of Etosha is like buying a Ferrari and never getting out of 2nd gear in my opinion....
Our trip highlights were:
Nambwe 4x4 Camp in Caprivi - total wildreness camping, with hot showers etc, Eles, bushbuck, and lots of game in and around the camp.
Khadoum Game Reserve - totally remote...
Marienfluss and the drive down van Zyls pass to get there...
Kaokoveld.... Desert elephants...
So much to see,
You will have a great trip, even with your route
I might add that the Hummer is not the only over priced piece of 4x4 crap that the little Landy pulled off that ramp - Landcruisers, Hi Luxes, Patrol come to mind.
Easy! My 80 series TLC was pulled out from an 'embedded situation' once by a similar vintage Landie. But every day for the next week I pulled him out. On the last occasion he rolled - trashing the cabin and lucky to survive unhurt.
We all make our choices but I wouldn't go with a Hummer -
I've no personal experience of the H3, thought it's a whole lot money for something sitting on a Isuzu/ Gm Colorado chassis.
I drove the military H1 for vehicle trials with the NZ Army to replace the aging Rovers and in two weeks we broke 6 axles and 3 wing mirrors... the wheel base is so wide they hung off the track half the time getting an absolute hiding. ( these were Merc Unimog wheel tracks!) And the wing mirrors...well let's just say they are very wide.... . They'll break like anything else.
The H1 can climb for sure, but give me a Nissan or Toyota any time! ( the NZ Army brought Pinzgauers in the end... amazing! The H3 has a few electronic gadgets but it's a shopping mall wagon!
H3 should be quite good fun. Alot of the comments about size and width relate to H1s which are big but also quite good fun. Drove one in Aus for a bit. H3 whilst still a fair sized 4x4 is substantially smaller. Also I'm assuming from your comments that you are hiring this, not buying it in which case I would definitely do it. Buying it might be a different issue. Assuming that you are hiring, can you let us know who from as have been considering going down to Namibia for a bit.
I ended up renting it from ASCO - who have a fleet of 250+ vehicles, ranging from toyota Yaris to camping and roof tent equipped Nissan D22, LCs etc etc. Britz are also hiring camper equipped 79 LC pick-ups and Landy 110s with roof tents. My impressions of them (ASCO) was that the "familiarisation" with the vehicle from one of their staff was fine if you are on this forum, but if you are new to camping and 4x4s you would have driven off without a clue. I was also not impressed with their attitude on returning the vehicle - they made it pretty clear that they were not happy with general dirt levels (WTF???) and also proceeded to get into an argument about an 8mm windscreen crack which we had realised was there only after an hour of leaving their yard. We took a picture at the time (as some sort of dated record) of realising, but to be honest I got the impression they were really looking for me to roll over and cough up for a new windscreen. Eventually one of their senior guys 'remembered' that the crack was in fact on the vehicle before we collected it (but not on the check sheet!). I was also gob smacked to see the car being filled up (we handed it back with the gauge on full) with another 4 litres of fuel which we were then charged for at way higher rates. Small stuff, but when I consider what it cost us for the two weeks hire I came away with a slightly sour taste and an impression that they were money grabbing swine... I will be avoiding using them in future (as I will definately be going back to Namibia!).
Hummer H3 Impressions
First thing you notice is the width - I would not want to be manoeuvering one of these things in cities much! Ironically the width is not reflected inside the vehicle - the big macho flares simply add width but no gained interior space. The track width is great on gravel roads, giving nice stability even with 40L petrol and 40L water plus a 2nd spare , 2 x 7kg gas bottles and a storage box on the roof. The car felt extremely stable in all conditions. However on sand tracks the fact that the car's track is about one tyre width (i.e. almost 30cm) wider than say a 79 series LC meant that it was always trying to do it's own thing...
Suspension - leafs on the back and torsion bars on the front means that it is identical to a Nissan D22 'Hardbody' pickup (of which I had 2 as company vehicles), and the handling was also strangely similar. I found on corrugations the car tended to skip around quite badly (front and rear), maybe it is just the shocks. Lowering tyre pressures mildly reduced it, but certainly didn't stop it. I remember this exact same problem with the nissan, particularly the front end wallowing badly.
Powertrain - for the size and weight, this car really needs a big torquey diesel or V8... Overtaking on hills meant feeling that the thing was going to explode! And the 3.7L 6cyl petrol was not frugal. I have yet to calculate final consumption as I forgot a few bits, but one leg was about 20L/100kms. The electronic traction control system was impressive on steep rocky trails - I am not used to these systems, but did feel that it was quite slow to respond... there did seem to be quite a lag between a wheel spinning and a click then the wheel being braked. Certainly worked, but I do not think it would be a substitute for a locked diff. The whole 4x4 system was off course all electronic buttons, which I would not like at all (especially as I managed to drown a 105 LC which then turned into an electrical disaster, and that was only power windows and locks thank god!). Can't help but wonder what happens after a few years of dust/humidity etc? The rear diff lock also appeared to only work if in low ratio. But to be honest it is certainly a proper, capable off roader. Most might not ever be used as such but they are capable. Of course I would not fancy one as an overland vehicle, compared to say a 110 or 80 series or troopy.
Other Stuff - well it was certainly very comfortable and swallowed distances nicely. The auto/cruise control was actually a great function. Not necessary but also not to be sneered at! Bearing in mind distances between fuel stops the tank of the H3 is NOT AT ALL suited to a country like Namibia. 70L is far too small for comfort! It had these terrible sheet aluminium running boards which trapped stones which then rattled between the boards and the sills of the car sounding bloody awful!
Final Impression - a capable vehicle as a 4x4 but no overlander! More a Disco III alternative, if you could handle the stares... This is actually probably the vehicles biggest problem. Locals just love it (got so many petrol station conversations and thumbs up), tourists hated it (apart from a few young South Africans). It would work well in Africa, in EU you would just get abuse! Pretty much what I suspected and curiosity well and truly satisfied.
As for Namibia, well what can I say... magnificent place. Planning how to get back there (but with my troopy ;-).
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