SALEM — Discharged from their military days hauling troops and gear as long as 30 years ago, monster-sized military surplus Humvees may soon be cruising the Oregon streets and highways alongside eco-conscious Prius drivers and outdoorsy Subaru commuters.
A proposal that's been advancing at the state Capitol could make Oregon one of the few states to allow these two-ton, 7-foot-wide diesel gas-guzzlers — not to be confused with their flashier Hummer, H1 and H2 commercial cousins — on the roadways for civilian use. These rigs would be hard-pressed to pass emissions in places like California and they also don't meet federal safety standards, although updates for proper seatbelts, turn signals and other tweaks could make them street legal in Oklahoma, for instance.
Spared from the scrapyard as newer models were brought on, surplus Humvees made by AM General became available for purchase from the U.S. military by civilians in late 2014. Nearly 8,000 Humvees have been sold to-date, but often without standard features such as horns, airbag's or even doors and windows while burning diesel as fast as 4 mpg, these big rigs usually don't pass muster with state DMVs, including in Oregon.
The Oregon proposal, however, would register these older Humvees under the same special designation used for antiques, collector's cars and street rods.
A one-time $81 fee would permanently register these massive vehicles for the streets — but only for limited purposes, such as group rides with car clubs, shows and exhibitions and, luckily for 75-year-old Hank Porter, parades.
"All I want to do is haul around old veterans in parades on the Fourth of July" said Porter, mayor of Stayton. "I don't need to run all over the country in the thing."
The proposal faced no opposition during its first hearing last week, although the Oregon DOT stayed neutral.
Without registration records, Joyce says it's unclear how many Oregonians would be impacted — only 11 Humvees currently have Oregon titles, which are optional — but more could be arriving as GovPlanet auctions continue for up to four years.