How useful is a pickup truck that can only carry 500 lbs in its bed and tow 2000 lbs? Not very, unless your criteria for a pickup truck isn't hauling lugage, but winning drag races. In which case, GMC had the truck for you in 1991. Today, GMC is seen as a more luxurious alternative to Chevy trucks, but in the early 1990s, GMC wanted it to be a sporty companion to the bowtie brand. This led it to create the Syclone, an S-15 pickup with a 280-hp turbocharged V-6 capable of keeping pace with most sports cars of the day. Controversially, including the big-dog Corvette.
Strangely, everything that made the Syclone so fast - a bespoke all-wheel drive system, low ride height, low-profile tires - compromised it as a pickup truck. In addition to its hauling deficiencies, the Syclone wasn’t so good off-road. So much so that GMC actively discouraged owners from taking it off the pavement with a warning label on the sun visor. A review once read that the 1991 Syclone was for ‘urban cowboys’ who wanted something that looked cool and went like hell but didn’t need a truck. It fulfilled that brief perfectly, making it a cult favorite in the process.
Why Didn’t The Syclone Catch On?
But despite how much it was beloved, performance pickup trucks in the mold of the Syclone never really caught on. The Syclone and its SUV brother, the Typhoon, were only built for one generation, the GMC hasn’t built anything truly speedy since. Performance trucks were practically unheard of back then, at least when it came to owning one. They were pretty much ornamental and fun to see in action, but not a lot of folks wanted to own one. The Syclone was in production for only two years between 1991 and 1993, and the GMC built only 2,998 models. Of these, three were non-existent models, so effectively, 2,995 models were built. 113 copies were exported to Saudi Arabia and the rest were sold in the USA. And with only 3,000 or so built, the Syclone is now officially a classic.
There were two special-edition 1991 Syclones in total. Ten red-painted Marlboro Syclones were customised by American Sunroof Company (ASC) and had cool features such as Boyd Coddington wheels, Recaro leather seats, a Momo steering wheel, and a targa-style removable roof panel. There was also the Indy Syclone, which was used at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1992. Although there were three of these unofficial pace cars, only one got a cool paint scheme, while the other two got sticker packages.
Can A Pickup Truck Really Do 0-60mph In 4.3 Seconds?
The GMC Syclone used a massive turbocharged 4.3-liter V-6 engine. It produced a meaty 280 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 350lb-ft of harsh torque at 3,600 rpm. Engine modifications included low-compression pistons, special intake, and exhaust manifolds. There was also a sweet multi-point fuel injection system, a bigger twin-bore throttle body from the Corvette’s 5.7-liter V-8, and, of course, the Mitsubishi TD06-17C turbocharger with a Garrett water-to-air intercooler. The same engine went into the Typhoon, too.
The GMC claimed a sub-five second 0 to 60 mph time for the Syclone, which was just insane in 1991. To be specific, the estimates were 4.6 seconds to 60, and 13.4 seconds through the quarter mile. GMC made bold claims like ‘fastest accelerating vehicle’ and ‘fastest production pickup truck’ and managed to back it up to an extent. Power was sent to the wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox. The top speed was 124 mph, which isn’t too bad either. The GMC Syclone’s price tag in 1991 was $25,970. That’s a premium of at least $10,000 over a pedestrian Sonoma. But hey, maybe that’s justifiable as the small truck went on to out-performed six-figure sports cars.
Was The GMC Machine Really Worth Purchasing?
Chevy’s long-time aftermarket partner, Specialty Vehicle Engineering, or SVE as we know it, managed to get the license from GMC to resurrect the Syclone moniker. The company has made two iterations of the truck, one that came out in 2019 and the other in 2020. Based on the Canyon both times, the truck recorded 0-60 mph times of 4.5 seconds, still unmatched to the original Syclone.
If you are wanting something that looks cool and desirable as well as bringing a whole lot of power, then this is the truck for you. If you’re not planning to take the Syclone off-road or haul anything with any weight. If it’s a good hefty truck that you’re wanting, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.
Source: The parking cars, Motor1, GMA Authority, Motor Authority, Classic Car Auctions