THE Hummer H3 isn’t your usual base for a modified off-roader, but owner Dean has proved the smallest Hummer ever made can keep up with the big rigs out in the bush – especially once it has copped some serious mods.
Dean and his wife had owned the H3 for a couple of years before the modification bug bit, mainly as a result of Dean testing the Yank tank off-road and soon realising a few ‘small things’ needed sorting before it could become a legitimate bush tourer.
One of those ‘small things’ was a radical modification: Removal of the standard independent front suspension and replacement with a live-axle setup. The reason was simple, according to Dean.
“I used to take it 4x4ing all the time when it was IFS, but it kept breaking CV joints and front diffs. Things sort of snowballed from there.”
Dean sought the expertise of Matt Kinsela of Kinselas Kustoms, with Matt installing a live-axle setup comprised of a Dana 44 front axle with a custom set of hubs with tone rings to ensure the ABS, traction control and stability control still worked.
The axle was fitted with a set of 80 Series radius arms and a GU Patrol steering box. Then a set of custom 10-inch travel King Shock coilovers (with external reservoir) and hydraulic bump stops were fitted. The ride height jumped three inches as a result and articulation was – as you’d expect – far better than the original IFS front end.
The rear matched this with fitment of 50mm extended shackles and an add-a-leaf system (plus shocks) from The Ultimate Suspension, resulting in three inches at the rear as well. The result was perfect and allowed those big 37-inch Federal Couragia muddies to fit too.
The stock I5 donk was soon flicked for a LS2 V8 – this powerplant pumps out more than 298kW and 550Nm, with the fitment undertaken by Steve Etcell, of Automotive Etcellence.
The process involved custom engine mounts, a lot of work to mesh the transmission with the LS2, and a custom loom from Ultimate Conversion Wiring, along with a new exhaust. Interestingly, the stock ECU was able to communicate with the LS2, with a custom tune added to ensure the engine can cope with on- and off-road duties easily.
Touring mods include an ARB front bar with 10,000lb Warn winch and LED driving lights. Kinsela Kustom scrub bars link the front bar to OEM sliders. A dual-battery setup ensures the Engel fridge/freezer and ARB compressor are always powered, and there’s a rooftop tent up top for those destinations where the van won’t go.
It’s a hell of a lot of work but we reckon the boffins at Hummer would be left in awe by the bush-tough end result.