A company in the Czech Republic has created the Bureko Hummer – a beautiful 6×6. You may not see it on a battlefield, but it wouldn’t be out of place in front of trendy, high-end hangouts. And some 4×4 tracks, too. This is the story behind it.
Back in 2007, Bureko creator Francis Janes followed a Czech motor-sport team on the Dakar rally, which back then still ran through Africa. At the time, he was driving a Hummer H2. He liked how it handled on the remote desert tracks, but more importantly, how it felt to drive something so big and which commanded such a road presence. For a seller of swimming pool covers in a small town in the Czech Republic, having a Hummer as a road car was nothing more than a pipe dream. But then, at the 2008 Geneva car show, he saw the Hummer HX concept and was smitten. But Hummer didn’t survive the subsequent financial crisis and the HX concept remained just a concept… which is where most people’s mental drawings of a 6×6 Hummer would have ended.
Not Francis’ though. With no applicable mechanical engineering or design skills, he decided to simply make his own… and with hard work and dedication in his spare time, he designed, developed and built the first iteration of the car, the H2X. Soon he got enough pre-sales that he quit the swimming pool cover job and took on the Bureko project full-time. In the three years since, he’s sold an impressive 20 vehicles, mainly to Russia and Dubai. For his latest builds, Francis has done away with the Hummer underpinings – instead it’s all Land Rover Discovery 4. The reason is simple: with Hummer production ceased and spare parts becoming increasingly difficult to get hold of, the Landy drivetrain and engine just made a lot more sense. “We also needed a Euro 6 emissions engine,” Francis explains. “We approached a few manufacturers but the only one interested in working with us was Land Rover CZ so we made a deal with them.” The boxy, angular styling outside is visually all Hummer – it cannot be confused with anything else – but open the doors and you’ll see that the full leather seats, dash and dials are all out of the Disco 4. It’s a strange sensation: the Land Rover logo even comes up on the LCD display when you turn the key. But behind the familiar steering wheel you look through the famously thin, almost vertical windscreen.
The vehicle is over five metres long so the turning circle is understandably rather large and it feels more like the H1 to drive than the H3. Passing a few startled tractor drivers, we crossed the railway tracks and headed out to the course that would be impossible for many normal 4×4s. The first thing that caught my eye was a big man-made ridge with a steep ramp that would send dirt bikes high into the air and cause an issue with break-over angles for many lesser 4×4s. The front and rear axles are engaged while driving but a flick of the switch puts drive to the forward of the rear-mounted axles and then the tank-like off-road capabilities kick in. The Bureko inches up. The three-litre Land Rover SDV6 engine ‘only’ gives 190kW but pushes out a massive 600Nm of torque and we go up easily. The middle diff is powered via an ingenious-looking transfer box. One propshaft goes in from the front and two come out of the back. The one to the rear is constantly engaged while the shorter one to the centre axle works by a simple air locker system. Well, I suppose ‘simple’ for a creative mechanical mind like Francis’. The ‘box was designed in-house and is made by a specialist local engineering company.
With a top-of-the-range Land Rover as its organ donor, the 6×6 boasts some pretty serious electronic wizardry including the full driver-assist spectrum. But it takes a lot more to make this 6×6 than just putting a new body on a stretched chassis. To demonstrate what an insanely complicated job it is to put a car into production, once back in the workshop Francis showed me a binder full of papers. The homologation requirements for the rear seatbelts are 75 pages long. The one for mounting the front seats is over 250 pages. But it’s not just Land Rover interested in being a part of this project. AM Mobility contacted Francis, too. The name may not mean too much, but it might mean more if I tell you that they own the Humvee and Hummer trademarks. There will be more news of this possible partnership soon. Not bad for someone who once thought that selling swimming pool covers was a good job.
Bureko 6×6 specifications
Engine: Land Rover TDV6 3.0
Power: 190kW @ 4 000r/min
Torque: 600Nm @ 1 750r/min
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain: AWD (4×4), 4WD (locked) and 6×6 (locked)
Driving aids: Traction control, dynamic stability control, hill descent control, hill start, gradient acceleration control, and electronic stability system
Length: 5 150mm
Width: 2 170mm
Height: 1 850mm
Approach angle: 45 degrees
Departure angle: 60 degrees
Wading depth: 700mm
Price: From R1.9 million (excludes import costs and taxes)
Text and photos: Robb Pritchard