2006 Hummer H3 Duramax - Diesel Alternatives
Why Doesn't GM Build Them Like This?
There was a time when the name Hummer was synonymous with the ultimate in off-road vehicles. Those were the days before AM General abandoned the civilian H1 and GM diluted the Hummer brand with the gasoline-powered H2 and H3 that are a far cry from the original M998 HMMWV.
Though the Hummer H2 and H3 vehicles have sold well, they're really just urban assault vehicles for those whose daily duties include shuttling the kids to the local soccer game, and their off-roading is usually limited to the potholed Wal-Mart parking lot. The H2 and H3 are basically GM trucks that have received a different body and the Hummer badge-nothing even close to the military-spec H1. It'd be like Ferrari or Lamborghini producing an affordable family sedan. It's just not the same.
Duramax Engine SwapBully Dog is looking to turn that around, though. The company has taken an H3 and retooled it with some of the original Hummer values. In keeping with the traditional Hummer H1 theme, its H3 needed to have a diesel. Bully Dog yanked the original 3.5L gas engine and began retrofitting a nonintercooled LBZ Duramax V-8 from a Chevy van. This was no small task for the hard-working technicians at Bully Dog.
First, the engine bay was designed for an inline engine, so fitting a diesel V-8 was like trying to make a grapefruit fit inside an orange. Although the physical dimensions of the Duramax proved challenging, the real test was making the Duramax electronics communicate with the rest of the vehicle. The wiring took a team of Bully Dog's engineers several weeks to finish.
Hummer-Worthy SuspensionAfter the engine was fitted, Bully Dog turned to upgrading the axles and suspension. Front and rear TeraFlex Tera 60 solid axles were built with ARB Air Lockers and were connected to the 4L85E van transmission through an Atlas II transfer case using Tom Wood's custom driveshafts. Mount Logan Off-Road in Logan, Utah, fitted its Rock Slider custom four-link suspension with Sway-A-Way remote-reservoir Race Runner coilovers.
This stage of the project was just as challenging as fitting the Duramax because it required lots of fabricating to make the new suspension and axles mount to the stock frame, which was designed for the independent front suspension. When it came to mounting wheels, the technicians faced even more challenges that forced them to bore out the centers of the Moto Metal 951 wheels to fit over the new axle hubs.
Upscale InteriorThe truck's interior remains fairly stock, with the exception of the dash. The factory Hummer gauges would not work with the new Duramax, so Bully Dog fitted one of its Performance Management Tools to monitor the engine. Stereo components from Sony Xplod provide entertainment with upgraded speakers, a subwoofer, and an in-dash DVD screen.
Off-Road TestingDuring our photo shoot, we took the Hummer out on some 4x4 trails to see how the H3 would perform in its intended environment-we sloshed it through mud, water, and dirt, and took it up hills, through fields, and romped on it pretty good. The suspension and axles work very well, and the Duramax's power and torque are excellent when maneuvering over obstacles. Bully Dog and Mount Logan Off-Road have definitely built an exceptional, purpose-built machine with this H3 that's a lot more Hummerlike than the stock H3.