From Zero to Sixty: Testing the Limits of the GMC Syclone

It is no longer surprising to learn that an electric vehicle can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds now that the EV age has arrived. But, back in the day, it was considered to be quite an accomplishment. 

Much more impressive was the accomplishment when it was accomplished by a pickup truck. Back in the day, there were quite a few performance trucks on the market.

Nevertheless, the GMC Syclone was one of the few that made as big of a statement as it did. 1991 was the year that saw the introduction of the Syclone, an automobile that caught everyone off guard. 

A lot of people couldn’t even conceive the possibility of a pickup truck being able to compete with, and perhaps even defeat, some of the most cherished supercars of that age. A flashback to the vehicle that still gets our blood pumping to this day is shown here.

The Performance

Let’s go right into the main topic of discussion, which is performance. The GMC Syclone can go from zero to sixty miles per hour in under 4.3 seconds. Even by today’s standards, the performance of a pickup truck at this time is remarkable. Thus, one can only imagine how mind-boggling it would have been 30 years ago!

The truck was able to complete the quarter-mile distance in 13.4 seconds as a result of its quick start off the line. For a pickup truck, the top speed is listed at 124 miles per hour, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. 

Throughout its marketing campaigns, GMC made a number of bold claims, like “fastest accelerating vehicle” and “fastest production pickup truck,” and it was able to back up some of those claims to some degree. The specialty vehicle engineering in 1991 GMC syclone to date is definitely amazing.

In point of fact, it had the oomph and grunt to compete with some of the most popular sports cars available at the time… and win!

To put things in perspective, it took the Porsche 911 Turbo 4.4 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour, while it took the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 4.9 seconds to do the same.  If you search for footage of the Syclone on YouTube, you’ll see that it can easily keep up with faster cars like Porsches and Ferraris without even breaking a sweat. It should tell you something about the beast that this man is.

Turbocharged V-6

4.3 liters of displacement for the turbocharged V-6 engine. At 4,400 revolutions per minute, this mill generated 280 horsepower, and at 3,600 revolutions per minute produced 350 pound-feet of torque. The Mitsubishi TD06-17C served as the unit for the forced induction process. 

Under the hood of the GMC Sonoma, the truck that the Syclone is based on, there existed a version of the same engine that did not have a turbocharger and produced a lesser amount of power. The engine was connected to an automatic transmission with four speeds and an all-wheel-drive transfer case manufactured by Borg-Warner. 

The transfer case sent 65 percent of the power to the rear wheels and 35 percent to the front. An interesting truth is that the engine from the Buick Grand National came very close to being installed in the Syclone. 

The latter model was discontinued in 1987 and has since been lost to history, although the engine has been carried over to the Chevy S-10, which is the identical twin of the GMC Sonoma. 

We can’t help but speculate about the consequences of it happening during the cyclone. In passing, I’d like to mention that in addition to the pickup truck known as the Syclone, there is also an SUV variant of the same performance vehicle known as the Typhoon.

Off-Road Capabilities

If we didn’t know any better, we’d think that the Syclone is a sports car hidden within the body of a pickup truck. But we do know better. This vehicle isn’t even capable of light off-roading, so you can forget about using it for extreme off-roading. 

Although trucks have become more specialized over the years, in the past, they were seen as indestructible monsters that were capable of tackling any challenge that was put their way. Unfortunately, the Syclone was only available in a street truck configuration.

If the fact that the vehicle is not adept at off-roading was not surprising to you, this most certainly will be. The Cyclone was not very good at either pulling or pushing. The GMC Syclone had a towing capacity of just 2,000 pounds, according to the manufacturer’s specifications. I mean, a Tesla Model Y is capable of towing more than what this vehicle is rated for!

The embarrassingly low payload capacity of 500 pounds made the six-foot cargo bed almost worthless as well. This short bed measured six feet in length. It’s no surprise the sales were so bad.

2023 GMC Syclone

The 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 single cab may seem similar to the reimagined GMC Syclone at first sight, but the latter is lower to the ground and has updated styling (and hood scoops). 

As you zoom in, though, you can see all of the updates that have been included in this digital reconstruction of a current Syclone. This becomes more apparent the more you examine it.

Although this Syclone has inherited the vertical grille (which looks more like a gate!) and menacing lighting seen on the front of other GMC family vehicles, it stands apart from the standard GMC Sierra by having a shorter bed and more squared-off sides. 

The curves on the side skirts and the rear bumper, which has a contemporary diffuser, help bring back the feeling of a Syclone, which is a real super truck. And you guessed it: the fog lights for this current GMC Syclone are still housed in the lower bumper!

These little alterations enable this new GMC Syclone to achieve the posture and throwback vibe of the very first Syclone, which debuted in 1991. 

Vintage Cyclone Wheels

Naturally, the vintage “cyclone” wheels are an immediate recall of the sleek, Corvette-look-alike wheels that came standard on the first model as well. Even minute features like the wing mirrors are a riff on the current rearview mirrors seen on GMC vehicles. These mirrors take the same theme one step further by combining two contrasting design components.

Although the twin exhaust tips are located on opposite ends of the diffuser, they are nevertheless a reference to the design of the original, which had twin pipes that ran the whole length of the diffuser. But then again, that’s what you get with a contemporary automobile.

The collection of GMC vehicles includes some of the most menacing-looking pickups that are now available for purchase. The level of hostility is turned up to 11 with this GMC Syclone. A wonderful style that is also a nod to the classic is wearing all-black clothing and accessories. This Syclone stands out despite having a body that is colored in brighter tones.

Dual Turbo

Coming up next are the decals that say “dual turbo” on the rear of this super truck. The original Syclone was powered by a turbocharged 4.3-liter V6 engine that was created specifically for it by PAS, a specialty engineering group. 

The engine was said to have 280 horsepower, however, the majority of people believe that the V6 engine was grossly underrated and really produced well over 300 horsepower.

The only way the Syclone could have achieved its low 14-second quarter-mile time was if it had been equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission that sent power to all four wheels.


Today, even though the mid-size GMC Canyon is equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 308 horsepower, we believe that this reincarnation of the Syclone may go a different path. 

In other parts of the General Motors world, Cadillac’s CT5 lineup, notably the CT5-V, has twin-turbo V6 engines. An engine is a 3-liter unit that produces 335 horsepower and is paired with a 10-speed automated transmission. 

This engine, modified to provide a little amount of more power, would be an excellent candidate for installation inside the hood scoops of the new Syclone.

There is, however, another possibility for GMC if it is serious about making a statement with the Syclone pickup and regaining its position as the dominant force in the market. 

The Cadillac Blackwing V8 engine, which was briefly installed in the Cadillac CT6-V, is something that comes to mind without much of a stretch. Its 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 produced 550 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque. ft. of torque, and even though it is a large and heavy engine, it would fit well in the GMC Syclone.

Take Away

It’s a pity that GMC was only able to create a limited quantity of the Syclone pickup and Typhoon SUV models, and even then, they only managed to sell all of them only in the nick of time. Nevertheless, it was back then. 

Trucks such as the Dodge Ram TRX 1500 and the Ford F-150 Raptor may now be profitable since there is a significant enough demand for them. And this doesn’t even take into account the electric pickup trucks that have trounced the competition brought on by internal combustion engines.

We anticipate the pricing of the 2023 GMC Cyclone, if it were ever produced, would be at or around the upper end of the price range for the Sierra, taking into account the competition as well as the mid-size truck origins from which this contemporary interpretation draws its inspiration. 

Because of this, General Motors should bring back the GMC Syclone and equip it with a monstrous engine now that the moment is right to truly give it another chance. This time, though, the whole globe will be prepared for it.

Josh Gallardo

Josh is a product enthusiast trying to help everyone fine the things they need.

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