Vital Stats

Engine:
6.5L Turbodiesel
Power:
178 HP / 379 LB-FT
Transmission:
4-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
23.1 Seconds
Top Speed:
87 MPH
Drivetrain:
Four-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
14,400 LBS
Seating:
2+3
The military's High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee to most of us, is a rugged four-wheel drive vehicle designed and manufactured by AM General. In basic trim, the truck weighs about 7,500 pounds. For a beast of this stature, that number isn't overly alarming... until you realize that its stock 6.5-liter turbodiesel, running power through a four-speed automatic and portal geared hubs, only sends about 113 horsepower and 219 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. Acceleration is leisurely, but at least the truck can get out of its own way.

Understandably, the situation becomes much more dangerous, potentially deadly, when the Humvee is fully armored for duty in combat zones – ironic, right? Tipping the scales at 14,400 pounds, the stock engine is only able to accelerate the truck to 60 mph in 43 seconds. Equally as jaw-dropping is the lousy stock braking system, as it takes a full 307 feet to bring the truck to a rest from 60 mph.

To help our troops make quicker entries and exits, Gale Banks Engineering has crafted the Sidewinder Turbo system with exhaust brake as an upgrade to the stock powerplant. When fitted, engine output jumps by about 50 percent. According to the dyno, 178 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque make it to the wheels. Acceleration to the benchmark 60 mph drops to 23.1 seconds, while braking falls to 243 feet. While those numbers still won't scare even the slowest passenger vehicle on your local highway, the improvement is dramatic - especially when under fire from an AK-47.

To demonstrate its wares, Banks recently invited us to drive both the stock and modified Humvees back-to-back at its headquarters in Southern California. (Note: The Humvee we drove was configured with some unique armor plating and a 50 caliber turret - we've been asked to hide both in our pictures.)

Driving Notes:
  • The stock armored Humvee (M1165 in military speak) borders on pathetic in terms of ergonomics, passenger comfort, and overall drivability. Not to be confused with its barely civilianized Hummer H1, the archaic military Humvee was unquestionably the most miserable vehicle I have ever piloted on public roads. Outward visibility, through brick-thick bullet-resistant glass was pulse raising. In stock form, acceleration was dangerously slow and throttle response frighteningly lethargic. Once moving, the heavy body oscillated back and forth as it floated on its squishy off-road tires (in a motion mimicking trailer sway). Hitting the brake pedal initiated a lot of grinding noise and only mild deceleration, as the inboard disc brakes howled while fighting a losing battle against inertia. I exited the M1165 covered in nervous sweat, verbally praising the troops who are forced to drive it daily under far less desirable conditions.
  • Banks works its magic on the Humvee in several different ways. To improve breathing, the company fits a new intake and a wastegated turbocharger. A large air-to-air intercooler keeps the charge temperature down, while new injectors (and a new injector pump) ensure fuel flow isn't an issue. A monster exhaust finishes off the power improvements. Another important upgrade is the exhaust brake, aptly named the Banks Brake, which uses the engine to supplement the mechanical brakes and slow the vehicle.
  • The modified Banks Humvee was noticeably lighter on its feet (likely strong enough to run neck-to-neck with a 1977 Mercedes-Benz 240D). Twice as quick is a huge improvement, and I was visibly more comfortable pulling into moving traffic. Running acceleration, from 40-60 mph, drops by half as well. This meant around-town throttle response was decent, and not a white-knuckle affair. The Banks Brake was set to automatically slow the Humvee each time I lifted off the accelerator (it reminded me of regenerative braking, but without any additional external noise as our soldiers prefer to arrive silently). Combined with the disc brakes, stopping distances were greatly improved.
  • Like the aging B-52 long-range bomber, the multi-purpose Humvee will be in service for many more decades as the military conjures up ways to sustain the program. Age and expanded roles have burdened the original light utility. Nevertheless, my initial impressions say that the Sidewinder Turbo system from Banks appears to provide a necessary shot of adrenaline to a vehicle desperately in need of vitality.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      m_2012
      • 1 Year Ago
      DURAMAX and Allison! Quit endangering our soldiers for a few dollars. The Duramax and Allison already fits, has been tested and even mil spec certified. When the Duramax was originally engineered by Isuzu, they did all the mil spec testing on JP-8. Even derated the combo would put 3x the power to the wheels and return much better fuel economy while being quieter - which is a plus in a war zone.
        erjhe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @m_2012
        I can't say I totally disagree, but you have to bear in mind that the Detroit 6.5 is a stupid simple engine to work on and the armed forces are well equipped to handle it. I've serviced an old Roosa Master pump in my garage which is the grandfather to what is in the 6.5 and is fundamentally the same. Just basic hand tools, a vice and some paper towels to keep clean parts on. Introducing the Duramax isn't as simple as just dropping it in the frame and releasing it to the troops. You have to consider new training, new tools new parts... it adds up and consumes not only money, but time as well.
          erjhe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @erjhe
          We're already on their butt as it is for expenditures, I'm just pointing out the obvious.
          lawlencey
          • 1 Year Ago
          @erjhe
          Maybe the military should have stuck with muskets and bayonets as well. God forbid having to spend time and money to learn how to use automatic weapons.
          SloopJohnB
          • 1 Year Ago
          @erjhe
          lawlency: Automatic weapons aren't what they're cracked up to be. Other than a SAW or M2 for suppressive fire, even the M16's these days are select fire to 3 round burst....relatively few full auto around. Because troops tend to freeze in a combat situation and empty the magazine...when you find a dead guy with an empty mag and his finger rigor mortis to the trigger....makes you wanna holler!
      domingorobusto
      • 1 Year Ago
      it's surprising to me that they were intelligent enough to reach out to a trusted aftermarket tuner to get this done instead of their usual MO of spending billions with a defense contractor to develop a similar or worse system for 80 times the cost. Good on them for taking the intelligent route! I've only driven a light armor version of the Humvee on an Air Force base, and it was appalingly slow. I can't imagine how slow one with the enhanced armor package and a roof mounted weapon system would be. This seems like an awesome idea. i have two concerns though. First, that 6.5 will run on ANY pisswater fuel you can find out in almost any theater. You get separated from your supply chain out in the desert and find questionable fuel in some local town, it'll run on it. Will the Banks enhanced engine require a better quality fuel? And second, that air-to-air intercooler looks kinda vulnerable to small arms fire. It looks like they've minimized the profile nicely and it looks well covered, but that seems like it's be firly easy to shoot out, and once you lose boost you're in a bad situation. In any case, that's pretty awesome, should help our troops out a lot!
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      A 6.5 litre turbodiesel putting out 113hp? Now that demands an explanation. How is this even possible to make such a humongous engine with such a low horsepower rating?
        Revive Revival
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        It's also from 1984, I'd like to think car engines have improved quite a bit since then
      Rydiak
      • 1 Year Ago
      http://assets.bankspower.com/friday_inline_images/639/Up-Armored-Humvee.jpg
        ragtopoval
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rydiak
        That link is a public domain image. I'm pretty sure the top black block on the photo would be a lot taller if that was the one. http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/yw4kTMCfyU3OZMVCml35vzzi9CL7503DE00v8IEoqOA
      z28ssx
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why don't the use a more modern diesel engine from GM, Ford or Cummins?
        wilkegm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @z28ssx
        Nothing is a direct drop-in. It is probably more economical to build uprated replacement engines (the 6.5 commonly only went 120-200k in civillian use) than to swap over to a better engine. There are other HMMWV derivatives built in license around the world that used far better engines from the start, but none were ever intedned for the vehicle to be this heavy.
        Lab Rat
        • 1 Year Ago
        @z28ssx
        I was thinking some heavy machinery diesel from Caterpillar...
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      What a monster.
      gashman79
      • 1 Year Ago
      I remember how fast the turbo 6.5's where after driving the old 1025's with the naturally aspirated 6.2's. Anybody who mentions reliability and HMMWV's probably haven't spent too much time around milspec one's that have been in theater for years on end.
      trzjax
      • 1 Year Ago
      Now I understand that video where troops were plowing through Bagdad traffic pushing cars away... If they stopped even once, they wouldn't get out of the city until the dark.
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      So how much do taxpayers shell out for each of these aging dinosaurs?
      DeathKnoT
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why is the armor classified? Any idiot can see what it looks like with quick google search.
      ryanm
      • 1 Year Ago
      they should have government motors GM put their duramax/allison into that beast haha
      IBx27
      • 1 Year Ago
      Where does all the engine output go? I understand drivetrain losses but the civilian H1 has 300hp and 520lb-ft from what I imagine can't be a very different engine.
        erjhe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @IBx27
        Another thing to bear in mind is that the H1 may have a Duramax engine while the HMMWV retains it's older Detroit Diesel cousin.
        Hardy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @IBx27
        The 2006 H1 Alpha is the only civilian hummer to sport the duramax which pushes numbers like you quoted. My 2002 H1 has the same tired 6.5 that these have, pushing around 190HP and 430 ftlb torque. An unladen late model open top is good for a 0-60 in the 15 second range.
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @IBx27
        Civilian H1 alpha was the last and best of them, had a 305hp duramax diesel....
        erjhe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @IBx27
        Military application is usually derated for better reliability. If you think about it, at the derated power levels they could run all day long no matter how heavy a foot the driver has. At increased power levels that reliability can drastically drop. It's often just easier to make something bomb proof than to train drivers on how to preserve the engine and drivetrain.
        wilkegm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @IBx27
        The current replacement engines being deployed for these dyno at about 220hp. Still a 2-valve 6.5TD, but turned up just a little. Unlike this Banks motor, it's a top mount turbo, same as the 6.5 Express van was. The sidewinders were in pick-ups.
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