New Bad Boy Truck Dwarfs the Hummer
The Bad Boy Heavy Muscle Truck, left, draws interest Jan. 19, 2005 in Jasper, Texas. The converted military truck, parked beside a Ford pick-up, can drive through 10 feet of water and climb a 60-degree grade with infrared cameras that peer through darkness. PAT SULLIVANFebruary 13, 2005 2:32 PM EST
JASPER, Texas - For some drivers, even a Hummer may not be enough. At a curb weight of more than 3.5 tons, the Humvee-inspired Hummer H1 is no skinny guy who gets sand kicked in his face. But the Bad Boy Heavy Muscle Truck, a dressed-up military vehicle more than twice as heavy, is being billed as bigger, badder and more bodacious.
"It's the rugged Bubba," said Daniel Ayres, president and CEO of Homeland Defense Vehicles LLC and its division Bad Boy Trucks.
The East Texas company aims to market the machine to civilians with disposable cash and a hankering for more protection from the outside world. A $379,000 version made its public debut in January at the Dallas Safari Club convention.
For a base price of $225,000 - nearly twice the Hummer H1 wagon's base price of $117,508 - consumers can get a basic version of the 10-foot-tall Bad Boy that can drive through five feet of water, climb a 60-degree grade, tow six tons and keep rolling even with a quarter-sized hole in the tire's sidewall.
The price goes up from there, depending on options. Drivers can get infrared cameras that peer through darkness. The flat-nosed cab can be bulletproof, and house a mini-safe behind three leather seats. The dash can include a satellite phone, a two-way radio and a global-positioning system - all alongside DVD, MP3 and CD players and a flip-out LCD screen.
For $750,000, buyers can get the fully loaded "NBC" version that can, Ayres said, detect and block out fallout from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons by over-pressurizing the cab with filtered, clean air much like an aircraft.
Ayres said he isn't playing on post-Sept. 11 fears by offering the NBC option.
"There's a certain group of people who color outside the box," Ayres said, and if they want to escape a city targeted by terrorists with dirty bombs or biological agents, "this is the truck for them."
Possible Bad Boy customers include ranchers, sports enthusiasts and possibly CEOs who need to travel through unfriendly areas, Ayres said. He said he is negotiating with dealers in various regions to stock a couple of Bad Boys, and customize what buyers want once they're hooked.
Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research and an auto industry expert, said there's definitely a market for Bad Boy Trucks.
"It's exactly what the Humvee was all about - an absolutely useless vehicle for consumers," Spinella said. "It's a statement vehicle. I know people who would buy this and that's the only reason they would do it - because it makes a statement."
Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for Hummer, declined comment on the Bad Boy, noting Hummer has no plans to switch gears from its established Hummer H1 and more SUV-like Hummer H2 brands, as well as the rollout this spring of the Hummer H3.
"We're pretty focused on our specific mission that it would be hard to imagine us veering our course for any other reason," he said.
Both the Hummer H1 and the Bad Boy began as military vehicles, and retain that look. On the ceiling of the Bad Boy cab is a mirror, lined by red lights. That's a turret for soldiers with guns in the military version, but "that's not an option we're offering" in the civilian version, Ayres said.
The Hummer H1 emerged from Humvees built for the U.S. Army by AM General in South Bend, Ind. In 2000 General Motors bought the Hummer brand.
The basic Bad Boy is a light tactical military truck built for the Army by Houston-based Stewart & Stevenson's tactical vehicle unit. Dave Lombardi, marketing director for the unit in Sealy, about 60 miles west of Houston, said the company recognized a commercial market for the truck, though likely not as big as the Hummer market, and in 2004 turned years of talks with Ayres into action.
Stewart & Stevenson participates like a wholesaler, Lombardi said. "We'll build the base, he'll trick it out," he said.
Ayres' company in Newton, Texas, isn't limiting itself to the Bad Boy. The company has forged a partnership with Parliament Coach Corp., a Clearwater, Fla.-based manufacturer of luxury motor coach conversions, to produce high-line motor coaches equipped to block out nuclear radiation and chemical and biological agents - for $1 million or more.
The company aims to sell 50 Bad Boys this year, which Spinella said was possible in its niche market.
Ayres hasn't sold one yet, but he isn't worried.
"Now Hummers are a dime a dozen," Ayres said. "This is a 100 percent military specification truck ... The most get-anywhere truck in the world."
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