The GMC Syclone: More Sports Car Than Truck

Bill Wilson
March 16, 2014

The GMC Syclone was built in 1991, and was produced for only one year. In that year, this pickup-on-steroids turned the auto world on fire when it was released. After all, how many utility vehicles get compared to a Ferrari by Car and Driver?

The Syclone was built by Production Automotive Services of Troy, MI and sold through local GMC dealers. 2,995 were made. The engine is a 4.3-liter six-cylinder with a Mitsubishi turbocharger and Garrett air/water intercooler. The pistons, head gaskets, intake/exhaust manifolds, fuel system, and main caps were all modified to boost performance.

RELATED: See Photos of Another Super Truck – the Ford 150 Lightning Rod Concept


A GM-built four-speed automatic transmission was fitted to the Syclone, routing power through a Borg-Warner all-wheel-drive setup. Car and Driver recorded a test model doing 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 13.6 seconds at 93 mph. To say that the Syclone isn’t your run-of-the-mill vehicle would be a slight understatement.

RELATED: See Photos of the 1987 Buick Grand National

The Syclone also came with other innovations, including the first four-wheel ABS setup to appear on a pickup truck. When it came to color choice, however, the builders adopted Henry Ford’s outlook. Syclone buyers could have any color they liked, as long as it was black.

Several customized versions of the Syclone showed up at racing events in the early 90s. 10 of these “Marlboro” editions were outfitted with touches like leather seats, a Sony sound system, and a crimson paint job using a PPG shade called “Hot Licks.” They were presented as awards to the 10 winners of the 1992 Marlboro Racing Contest. Three other Syclones showed up at the 1992 Indy 500, though their only modification was a special sticker package.

PHOTOS: See Photos of the 2015 GMC Canyon


Like James Dean, the Syclone didn’t live long, but it sure lived fast. GM cancelled a scheduled 1992 run in favor of building the ’92-93 GMC Typhoon– a bad-ass GMC Jimmy with the same performance approach as the Syclone. The remaining Syclones are extremely collectible, though it’s reported that one owner scrapped his truck under the 2009 “Cash for Clunkers” program. It appears that human stupidity is truly boundless.