An American military icon has become all the rage in war-weary Baghdad: the Hummer. With at least 20,000 military Humvees on the road, the civilian version seems an unlikely symbol for auto-elitism, but a dealership run by two brothers indicates otherwise. They estimate they've sold 20 H3s in the past 7 months, providing Iraqis with a massive ride that signifies a return to sovereignty and inspires “hasad thukuri"—penis envy.
“In Iraq, people judge you by your car, and you’re not a man without one," said one brother, who points to Mercedes and BMW 3 Series as past in-demand rides. But even with gas at $1.40 a gallon—up from 19 cents recently—"Iraqis are obsessed with the Hummer." He says most of his customers are government officials who can afford the $50,000-plus price tag for the fully loaded vehicle, most popular in canary yellow and fire engine red colors.