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The GMC Syclone is the Embodiment of 90s Cool

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author photo by Chris O'Neill December 2017

Pictured is an ultra-rare GMC Syclone. I spotted this vehicle by complete accident -- it was on the back of a car carrier parked outside of an Audi dealership. I had stopped to take a picture of a Citroen 2CV that was loaded on a few spaces up when I noticed the red sticker on the tailgate of this otherwise unassuming '90s GM product -- and I quickly realized this was anything but a regular old GM truck. Jaw dropping ensued.

Only 2,995 Syclone models were produced, all for the 1991 model year. GMC followed up the Syclone with a Jimmy-based SUV version, dubbed the Typhoon, of which only 4,697 were produced, covering the 1992 and 1993 model years.

These performance trucks are two of the rarest, fastest, and most uncharacteristic vehicles to come from an American automaker in the 1990s. With a heavily modified, turbocharged version of GM's 4.3-liter V6, the all-wheel drive Syclone went from 0-to-60 in 4.6 seconds -- an insane figure during a time when the Corvette needed 5.3 seconds to reach the same speed. Think about it this way: it's like if, in today's world, there was a top trim level of the Canyon that was faster than the Corvette Z06. It's almost as if GM made this vehicle by complete accident.

The Syclone was only offered in black, except for 10 special customized "Marlboro Editions" commissioned by Philip Morris to be offered to winners of some contest (hey, it was the '90s). These trucks were resprayed red and were given T-tops, along with other mild performance modifications.

GMC Syclone on a trailer

An even lesser-known fact about the Syclone is that an entry-level version of sorts was offered, oddly for the 1992 model year, after the Syclone had ended production. Known as the Sonoma GT, it didn't offer the same performance capabilities as the Syclone, but it did utilize the same interior, and it had Sonoma GT stickers on the sides and tailgate that used the same italicized red font as the Syclone wordmark. The Sonoma GT was rear-wheel drive only but still packed a respectable 192 horsepower. Only 806 were produced -- so despite being less desirable, it's technically even rarer than its turbocharged older brother.

Responsible for building the Syclone, Sonoma GT, and Typhoon was Michigan-based Production Automotive Services, which also produced the 1989 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am -- but closed its doors in 1994, shortly after the Typhoon production run came to an end.

The Syclone pictured above lacks its factory wheels and looks to be in fairly rough shape overall. I talked to the truck driver, and he said it was headed all the way from California to New York. I have to think anyone willing to ship this car cross-country is also willing to restore it to its former glory -- a wise move, given that these trucks are sure to become collectibles.

Chris O'Neill grew up in the rust belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He managed to work in the auto industry for a while without once crashing a corporate fleet vehicle. On Instagram, he is the @MountainWestCarSpotter.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The GMC Syclone is the Embodiment of 90s Cool - Autotrader