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Like many celebrities, rapper Tupac Shakur had a thing for cars. Just a month before his tragic death, he bought a Hummer that he personalized in various ways. The Hummer was recently put up for auction, which inspired us to look back on how the man who first owned it made it his own.

Tupac Shakur’s music career and tragic death

Tupac Shakur seated in a car during 'Red Rock West' at Club USA in New York City
Tupac Shakur | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Tupac Shakur was one of the most well-known rappers of his generation. Born in New York in 1971, he released his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, in 1991. Many other albums followed, and Shakur gained fame as one of the greatest rappers of all time.

A common theme among Shakur’s songs was the possibility of his early death, likely inspired by some close calls that he had at various points in his life. Unfortunately, the rapper turned out to be prescient with these songs. He was murdered in 1996 at the age of 25, the victim of a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. No one has ever been charged with his murder, although his mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Orlando Anderson, the man she and others have accused of the crime. 

Tupac had a personalized Hummer

Goldin recently put Tupac Shakur’s 1996 American Motors Hummer H1 up for auction, and it’s easy to see why he was inspired to buy the stark black vehicle in the first place. The Hummer sports a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8 engine capable of 195 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque.

Certain touches on the Hummer aren’t surprising, given that its owner was a famed musician. For example, there’s the 12-disc Clarion sound system, along with the privacy glass darkening the vehicle’s windows. The Hummer also comes with a grille guard, 38-in. Dick Cepek off-road lights, and an external PA system with three sirens.

Whoever buys the Hummer can also expect some bonuses. For example, a vanity plate, “YAKNPAK,” represents the combination of the names of rapper Yaki “Prince” Kadafi and Tupac. The vehicle also comes with a poignant registration, which shows how it was transferred to the rapper’s mother after his death: “Tupac A. Shakur, the owner of the above-described vehicle or vessel died on September 13, 1996, in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

At the last Goldin auction, the reserve didn’t end up getting met, so we’ll have to keep our eye out to see what happens to this piece of rap history in the future. 

A brief history of the Hummer


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Hummer traces its origins back to the military, where the U.S. Army designed it to replace the Jeep. The High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) went into military use in 1985 and ultimately received the nicknames Humvee and Hummer.

After receiving an uptick in publicity due to Operation Desert Storm, a civilian version of the Hummer got released to the general public in 1992. The H1, as it was known, was controversial due to its poor fuel economy, but that didn’t stop General Motors from releasing a new version, the H2, in the early 2000s.

Despite an initial increase in sales, controversy around that version of the Hummer was no less intense. When the recession of 2008 hit the United States, economic difficulties combined with environmental concerns made GM think twice about continuing to produce the massive vehicle. Ultimately, the Hummer was discontinued. 

However, more recently, GM has introduced the new GMC Hummer EV in an attempt to alleviate environmental concerns. Only time will tell whether consumers will respond positively to this blast from the past.