The GMC Syclone stormed onto the market in limited numbers for the 1991 model year. The Syclone was GMC’s first foray into the muscle truck craze that became popular again in the early 1990s. In its day, it was the fastest production truck available on the market. Not only did it give other muscle trucks, such as the Chevrolet Silverado 454 SS, some stiff competition, but it also gave some exotic automakers a run for their money.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Every 1991 GMC Syclone started out as a regular GMC Sonoma. They were then sent to Production Automotive Services in Troy, Michigan to be converted into Syclones. All Syclones were painted black and given matte black trim on the bumpers, rocker panels, bed and wheel wells. Red Syclone badging was applied to the doors and tailgate, and 16-inch aluminum wheels with 245/50 blackwall Firestone Firehawk tires kept the Syclone glued to the road. To keep your weekend getaway and road trip supplies from getting wet in the rain, a tonneau cover kept the bed dry and clean.
The suspension was also modified with the addition of independent torsion bars and a stabilizer bar up front. A solid axle with semi-elliptic, 2-stage leaf springs kept the rear in check. Bilstein gas shock absorbers on each corner helped smooth the ride, and ride height was also lowered 2 in, which gave the Syclone a paltry 500-lb payload capacity.
All Syclones came with black cloth bucket seats with red piping and “Syclone” stitched on the headrests. A leather-wrapped steering wheel, AM/FM radio with a cassette player, and a center console rounded out the driver’s amenities. Oddly enough, the gauge cluster used on the Syclone was borrowed from the Pontiac Sunfire Turbo, which was discontinued the previous year.
Pop open the hood and you’ll discover a turbocharged 4.3-liter V6 Vortec engine. Equipped with a Mitsubishi TD06 turbo and Garrett liquid-cooled intercooler, this engine pumps out 280 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. All this power hits the pavement via a 4-speed automatic transmission, through a BorgWarner all-wheel-drive transfer case. Torque is split, with 65 percent going to the limited-slip rear differential and 35 percent to the front axle. To help bring all this power to a standstill, the Syclone was one of the first trucks to be equipped with anti-lock brakes.
The Syclone can sprint from 0-to-60 in 5.3 seconds and run a quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at 93 mph. For 1991, these numbers are quite eye opening. How does all this power and speed measure up against the competition? The Syclone can outrun the Chevrolet Silverado SS by 1.9 seconds and the Ferrari 348 TB by a half second in a 0-to-60 matchup.
Sadly, GMC pulled the plug on the Syclone for the U.S. after the 1991 model year. Only 2,995 of these high-performance pickups were produced. A search on the web reveals only a few for sale nationally. Prices currently range from around $14,000 for one in fair condition, up to $22,000 for a low mileage truck with only one previous owner. Good luck in your search if you are looking to purchase a Syclone.