Nothing is worse than turning into something you’re not. I am not my father, and yet here I am besmirching his Curbside Classic series with this mystifying find. This Mk1 Scion xB is emphatically not a HUMMER, and yet… well, just look at it.
Despite the fact that there’s clearly no curb in sight in these pictures, there’s at least one more reason they belong in the category: the EcoHUMMER might never have been immortalized had I not visited the spiritual home of the Curbside Classic, Eugene, Oregon, over the weekend. This Hummerified xB was parked in the field that serves as the parking lot for the Oregon Country Fair, an annual hippie festival that typically trebles the number of mysterious, quirky and incomprehensible cars in and around Eugene for several weeks each summer.
Given this milieu, the EcoHUMMER is almost certainly intended as a parody of the HUMMER aesthetic, albeit at a significant penalty to the xB’s impressive around-town efficiency. Which seems a little self-defeating, and based on the reaction of several nappy-headed gents lounging nearby, the irony (or whatever they call it these days) of the retrofit was lost on the fair’s more thoroughly laid-back elements. “Like, why would someone do that?” one glassy-eyed fellow asked his friend. “Like, why would he want to make his car look like that?”
Still, it’s a fitting tribute to HUMMER’s polarizing influence, that someone was inspired to retrofit a Japanese city car to resemble one. It’s even more fitting that reactions to a replica HUMMER are just as confused, emotional and intense as they are to the real thing. It turns out that you could put HUMMER badges and hood vents on a biodiesel W123 (still the unofficial car of the Country Fair after all these years) and you’d still get dirty looks. And come to think of it, you’d probably have more off-road ability than this Toyota-cum-HUMMER. On the other hand, at least with the EcoHUMMER, you’d stand out from the acres of Prius, Subaru, W123, Volvo 240, and assorted vintage Volkswagen drivers who prove that, regardless of the ethos, every subculture enforces conformity through automotive dress code.
Which, in turn, always produces cars like the EcoHUMMER. Rebellion is rebellion is rebellion, and HUMMERs will always be built, bought and converted to get a rise out of civilians in parking lots as much as anything else. And damn does it work. Even when the HUMMER isn’t even a HUMMER.