The GMC Syclone is a wild product by any stretch of the word.
Under its relatively tiny hood sat a 90-degree 4.3-liter V6 engine with a Mitsubishi turbocharger and Garret intercooler system, which made a stout 280 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. Paired with an all wheel drive transfer case supplied by Borg Warner and a GM 4L60 automatic transmission, the GMC Syclone could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.3s and did the quarter-mile in 15.3s at 98 mph. Those would be impressive performance statistics for a sports car today – let alone a pickup truck in 1991.
Ever since its debut the GMC Syclone has been the recipient of adoration at car meets and car shows. It’s the kind of car you and your friends talk enthusiastically about over beers in a dimly lit bar, dreaming of one day owning. But what did the media think of the legendary Syclone when it first came out?
For that, we turn to John Davis and a retro MotorWeek review from 1991. The MotorWeek crew did a thorough test of a then-new GMC Syclone, testing its acceleration, braking, handling and more as part of its in-depth analysis of the odd GMC.
Not surprisingly, MotorWeek was impressed with the Syclone’s handling, acceleration and braking. They also liked its well-appointed cabin (power accessories and leather wrapped wheel – wow!) and clean, unfussy exterior styling. Shortcomings of the near 300 hp Syclone included rough engine idle, loud engine noise, unsupportive seats and a low usable cargo weight/capacity for a pickup.
Typically, MotorWeek also compares the cars it reviews to its rivals, but it wasn’t able to do this for the Syclone. The Syclone had no competition in 1991 and even today, there hasn’t really been a pickup like it. Indeed, the pickup truck market has changed quite a bit since the early 1990s.
It’s hard to think of a defunct General Motors product we’d like to see revived more than the GMC Syclone and Typhoon, but for now, we’re left dreaming and watching MotorWeek reruns. Be sure to check out the video review embedded above.