Back before GM decided to bring back Hummer as a 1000 horsepower super-truck toy for the well-off, Hummer tried going down market and expanding its lineup. After the rolling example of American pre-Great Recession excess that was the H2 and its useless H2T offshoot, there was the smaller H3 and its rare H3T variant.
Welcome to Forgotten Cars where we go into a brief history and background of some models you may not remember. Join us for an automotive trip down memory lane.
Introduced towards the end of both the H3’s last two model years, and the end of the Hummer brand itself, the H3T originally began life as a concept, shown at the 2004 L.A. International Auto Show. With its 113-inch wheelbase, it was compact but athletic thanks to its rugged Hummer design language. It was powered by a turbocharged version of the I5 found in the Colorado/Canyon. The concept also brought together the odd pairing of GM and Nike, who worked together on elements of the design.
The tires were designed (and specially manufactured by BF Goodrich for the concept) around a tread pattern that was modeled after Nike’s ACG outdoor shoes; the seats used material that Nike used in its sportswear that had the ability to heat and cool without electronics. The seats also had integrated Nike backpacks in the seatbacks.
The bed of the concept was just as cool, with side access doors, assist steps and watertight storage compartments.
None of this made it to production of course. GM announced its intent to produce the H3T with a $73 million investment in its Shreveport, Louisiana plant. By the time the production version of the H3T made its debut at the 2008 Chicago Autoshow, it had morphed into a four-door pickup with a five-foot bed. GM went parts bin with the H3T. It rode on a modified version of the GMT 355 platform: it was pretty much a Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon underneath. But since it was modified for Hummer duty, the H3T platform was known as GMT 745 internally.
It was a Hummer through and through. The H3T came with standard four-wheel drive, a ladder frame, two different suspension setups, 32-inch off-road tires, skid plates, and a locking rear differential. Hummer’s General Manager at the time, Martin Walsh, described it as “The combination of truck versatility and HUMMER off-road prowess that delivers customers to the trail in style.” I wouldn’t say it had style, but it was definitely a proper off-road pickup.
Engine choices were just as interesting. The standard engine was a 3.7-liter Vortec I5 with 242 horsepower. This engine could be paired with a four-speed automatic, or the super rare five-speed manual which was standard. It’s said that fewer than 60 manuals were ever made.
Those that wanted more power could spring for the top dog H3T Alpha. Starting at $35,680 ($46,644 in 2022 dollars), the centerpiece of the Alpha trim was the 5.3-liter small block V8. Its 300 HP gave the H3T Alpha a 5,900-pound towing capacity. That bigger engine also got you a front diff made out of cast iron (instead of the aluminum version the I5 engine had), special shock valving, and higher torsion rates. Just 2,448 H3T Alphas were ever made.
The whole H3T lineup would turn out to be rather rare. Over its two model years, a total of 5,680 H3Ts were produced, and it was pretty much doomed from the start. It was introduced right after the start of the Great Recession and saw both the failure of a sale of the Hummer brand and the bankruptcy of GM.
If you can find one, be prepared for some sticker shock as they’ve held their value over the years. Even before the current wild car market, it was difficult to find one under $30,000.