Jay Leno's 1991 GMC Syclone. Image: Jay Leno's GarageEnlarge Photo
If someone ever invents a time machine, we’re inclined to head back to 1991. The Cold War was over, the U.S economy was healthy, real estate still appreciated in value and the quickest car in America was a pickup truck.
We’re not sure why we count that in the plus column, but we do. Maybe it’s because things just seemed simpler back then than they do today.
Or maybe it’s just that the latest Jay Leno’s Garage episode has us nostalgic for the days when 280 horsepower was impressive. In 1991, you couldn’t buy anything quicker in a straight line than a modified GMC Sonoma pickup that the company misspelled as the Syclone, since Mercury still owned the “Cyclone” name.
It was faster than a Porsche 928, faster than a Corvette and faster than even a Ferrari Testarossa, to sixty miles per hour at least. From a standing start, the Syclone could hit sixty in just under four and a half seconds, thanks to its turbocharged 4.3 liter V-6 that was rated at 280 horsepower (but actually put out around 330 hp) and sent power to all four wheels.
The Syclone was built for just over a year before Production Automotive Services, who assembled the Syclone for GMC, went out of business. In 1991, 2,995 Syclone pickups were built, but in 1992 only three were made before PAS closed its doors.
As pickups go, the Syclone isn’t very capable, having just a 500 pound bed capacity and no towing capability. Priced in the mid-to-high $20k range, it was a tough sell to sports car fans (since it handled like a lowered pickup truck) and an even harder sell to pickup fans (since you couldn’t really use it for anything involving work).
It wasn’t uncommon to find Syclones on dealer lots into the mid-90s, which may explain why prices for used Syclones (and its SUV cousin, the Typhoon) haven’t ballooned to unattainable levels yet.
The Syclone and the Typhoon remain relative bargains on the collector car market, with clean and relatively low mileage examples regularly trading hands for under $10k. Since GMC made so few Syclones, it’s just a matter of time before the truck’s value goes up.
If you have a chance to drive one, do it, but don’t blame us when your significant other doesn’t buy the “it followed me home” story. In the mean time, enjoy Jay Leno’s video overview of the Syclone below.