The GMC Syclone was a high-performance version of the GMC Sonoma pickup truck. Produced in 1991, the Syclone spawned the similarly powered 1992-1993 GMC Typhoon SUV. Another vehicle, the GMC Sonoma GT, offered less performance but was seen as a companion model.
At the time it was introduced, the Syclone was the quickest stock pickup truck being produced in the world. Auto magazines compared its acceleration favorably to a variety of sports cars including the Corvette and - in a memorable comparison test in Car and Driver magazine - a Ferrari. Featuring a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine, all wheel drive, and 4 wheel anti-lock brakes, the specifications had more in common with a Porsche than most other pickup trucks.
Both the Syclone and Typhoon (SyTy) trucks featured a Mitsubishi TD06-17C 8 cm² turbocharger and Garrett water/air intercooler attached to a 4.3 L LB4 V6 engine with unique pistons, main caps, head gaskets, intake manifolds, fuel system, exhaust manifolds, and a 48mm twin bore throttle body from the 5.7 L GM Small-Block engine. All SyTy's had a 700R4 (4L60) 4-speed automatic transmission. A Borg Warner all wheel drive transfer case split torque with 35% forward and 65% to the rear wheels. Both trucks featured sport modifications to the standard suspensions. The Syclone was the first production truck to receive a 4 wheel anti-lock braking system. Output was 280 hp (209 kW) and 350 lb·ft (475 N·m). The Syclone, when new, was capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and could do a quarter-mile run in 13.4 seconds at 98 mph (158 km/h).
In 1991 Syclones were available in black only. 1992 models were to be offered in a wider range of colors before they were canceled. 2995 Syclones were built in 1991, and 3 in 1992. 113 (estimated 31 returned) were reported as Export Sales including a subset now referred to as the Saudi Syclones — a small number were delivered to Saudi Arabia and modified with a metric dash cluster, leaded fuel chip, and a resonator in place of the catalytic converter.
There were two special edition 1991 Syclones offered by third-parties:
The Marlboro Syclone, as featured in the January ‘06 Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine, was the grand prize for 10 lucky winners of The Marlboro Racing ‘92 Contest. All 10 trucks were provided to American Sunroof Corporation (ASC), by Shindoa Design Associates, Inc., in conjunction with Phillip Morris, Inc. With the help of Larry Shinoda, designer of the Corvette Stingray and Boss Mustang, an awesome transformation of the 10 black Syclones took place.
Marlboro Syclone custom features include:
ASC converted the roof to a targa style roof panel with mounts in the pick-up bed
ASC installed a slide-down rear window assembly
Guidon hard tonneau cover
Boyd Coddington "Cobra" wheels with Marlboro emblem center caps and Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires
PPG "Hot Licks" Red paint
White strobe stripes provided by Graphik Concepts
Recaro leather seats
Simpson 5-Point racing harness
Custom Momo "Evolution" steering wheel
Sony sound system
PROMPaq performance chip
Bell Tech suspension dropped 3 in
Borla stainless steel exhaust
Three Indy Syclones were used at the Indianapolis 500 race on May 24th, 1992 with the only modifications being a sticker package. One of these Indy trucks was converted into the PPG Syclone Pace Truck (though it was not the official pace car) with significant modifications, including a multi-colored silver, magenta, and aqua paint scheme, and a molded in light bar in the roof, a racing fuel cell and fire system.
The Syclone, Typhoon, and Sonoma GT were built for GMC by Production Automotive Services of Troy, Michigan and sold through dealerships.
The Syclone and Typhoon's gauge cluster is the one used in the Pontiac Sunbird Turbo, which was discontinued in 1990, one year before the Syclone was introduced.