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Modern Classic: GMC Syclone

September 12, 2011 Modern Classics 4 Comments
6450  320x240 gmc syclone front angle Modern Classic: GMC Syclone

“The wonder of the Syclone is not so much a pickup that’ll do a Ferrari blur on the local scenery, although that’s no small trick. The real magic is the way it makes this capability seem like a perfectly wonderful idea.”

– Patrick Bedard, Car & Driver September 1991

It was like nothing else on the road. It was a freakin’ pickup truck capable of destroying most sports cars of the time in a straight line street race. An unfavorable, front-biased, weight distribution, rear drum brakes, live axle on leaf springs were its shortcomings. Those shortcomings were rather quickly overshadowed by a 4.3L V6, which itself is a small-block V8 with two cylinders chopped off, a Mitsubishi TD06 turbo, and an all-wheel-drive system.

GMC Syclones came out in 1991. Built by Production Automotive Systems in Troy, MI, the Syclone was based on GMC’s Sonoma compact truck. Power came from a modified cast-iron 4.3L Vortec V6 which was fitted with new low-compression pistons (turbo-friendly 8.35:1), intake manifold, head gaskets, and other bits. With the liquid-intercooled turbo bolted up, the Syclone produced (a conservatively rated) 280 HP and 350 lb-ft of torque. Power went through a four speed automatic and down to the wheels via a Borg-Warner AWD system. The Syclone was also was one of the first pickup trucks to have an anti-lock braking system installed.

6453  320x240 gmc syclone side Modern Classic: GMC Syclone

Suspension was equally modified, lowered and stiffened. The adverse side effect was that cargo carrying capacity was reduced to only 500lbs. While that may not sound like much for a truck, consider it to be 495lbs more than any “proper” sports car. Outside, the Syclone got a body kit, 16″ aluminum wheels wrapped in 245/50 rubber, and black paint job giving it an intimidating look.

The combination of all the modifications and parts made the Syclone a formidable player. When Car & Driver did a comparison test between it and the Ferrari 348tb, the Syclone smoked the Ferrari in 0-30, 0-60, quarter mile, braking from 70-0, and keg carrying capacity (yes, they tested this). The 348tb would have overtaken the Syclone in a longer run but a drag strip is only 1320 feet long.

The Syclone was only built for two years and would be succeed by its brother; the Typhoon. Originally offered only in black, there was less than a handful of white and teal vehicles. In total 2998 Syclones were produced. Only three models were built for the 1992 model, making them the rarest of the Syclones.

6449  320x240 gmc syclone engine Modern Classic: GMC Syclone

Finding a GMC Syclone is surprising easily. While many are modified, chances are that like the Buick Grand Nationals, the majority of the owners are enthusiasts and limit the modifications to performance enhancing bits and retain the vehicle’s factory appearance. For a list of such well chosen modifications head over to syty.org, a website dedicated to everything Syclone and Typhoon.

The seller of this Syclone says the truck has 86,969 miles. Outside, the bodywork and paint is in great condition. The seller says the previous owner took meticulous care and kept it in a garage most of the time. The interior tells a similar story with no torn seats, dash still in good condition, and the floors clean. The seller also says the Syclone has some added performance parts which include a cold air intake, MSD ignition, aux cooling fan, high performance plugs and wires, and performance exhaust. Also, this Syclone comes with all of its original documentation and some service records.

The BuyItNow price stands at $13,950.00 which is fair considering its condition and service history. Make sure to click the link to see more pictures on Ebay. If you want this ultimate of modern classics, this maybe your best choice. Before you decide to head out and challenge a Ferrari 348tb to a race, make sure to read ALL of the SyTy forums.

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Wildsau says:

    I actually have this magazine. I remember something about the Ferrari driver revving his engine – ripppaaaaah, ripppaaaaah, and the Syclone driver just smiled. Or something to that effect. My brother and I have often laughed about this article – it was fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing this, and for the memories. As noted on Twitter, I just say a Typhoon last week, which would be practical to this day, except for the 2 door config.

  2. mike says:

    I remember the Keg comparison. Always thought both Syclone and typhoon were cool and had even cooler names!!

  3. Colin Burns says:

    I loved this truck and really loved the Typhoon. I feel like the Lightning was a great second super truck, but I feel like no domestic has done a good job on the super SUV, which is why I prefer the Typhoon. Both still super cool though.

  4. Brian Driggs says:

    Appreciate your mentioning the Mitsubishi 17C giving that grocery getter it’s get up and go, sir.

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