The 1991 GMC Syclone Came With AWD, but You’d Be Stupid to Take It off-Road
The GMC Syclone is a sports car trapped in a truck body. It has a turbocharged V6 that puts out over 280 horsepower. It’s fast, even for today’s standards, and could blow the doors off Ferraris, Porsches, and countless other performance cars.
Part of what made it so quick was its all-wheel drive system. Set up to maximize traction, the torque is split 35 / 65 between the front and rear wheels. The system is similar to AWD used by performance cars today, including Audi, Subaru, and Porsche, among others. It’s not a four-wheel drive as you’d find in a traditional truck, so you’d be stupid to take it off-road.
The GMC Syclone was only built for 2 years, but people still talk about it today
Initially, GMC hoped to sell 3,000 Syclone models a year for several years, using the truck as a halo vehicle to draw traffic into dealer showrooms. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. GMC sold about 3,000 units in total before ending production, according to TopSpeed.
Even though it didn’t sell as GMC hoped, it made an impression. Today it’s a cult classic and still makes a great sleeper vehicle that can still show its tail lights to many contemporary performance cars. Moreover, people still talk about it in the same vane as cars like the Buick Grand National or the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 today.
The Syclone was built for power and speed
Think of it as a two-seat sports car with a large trunk or a Buick Grand National disguised as a pickup truck. Either way, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Just don’t think of it as a truck. The GMC Syclone wasn’t built to haul anything except for the trophies you won at the local drag strip.
According to Edmunds, the combination of the turbocharged, 280 horsepower 4.3-liter V6 combined with all-wheel drive gave the Syclone a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.3 seconds. The horsepower figures were probably underrated to keep insurance rates from being too expensive or to give the Corvette the appearance of the most powerful production car in GM’s arsenal.
Appearances aside, there’s no denying the shock and awe delivered by the Syclone. Thanks to the AWD system, you could just floor the gas pedal, and the truck would take off like it was launched from a catapult, blowing the doors off many high-end sports cars in the process.
The GMC Syclone was terrible at most ‘truck things’
The very things that made the GMC Syclone incredibly fast made it a terrible pickup truck. It could barely haul 500 pounds in the bed, and the tow rating was 2,000 pounds, according to Road & Track. As for the all-wheel drive system, taking it off-road would be like going rock crawling in a Lamborghini.
To warn owners against offroading the Syclone, GMC put stickers in the owner’s manual and on the sun visor, cautioning owners not to take their truck four-wheeling. The low ground clearance with a low front air dam, side skirts, and lowered suspension is ill-equipped to handle potholes, let alone any kind of offroading.
However, as a street machine, it’s the ultimate sleeper. Most people will dismiss it as a nice old truck. Many people who notice it might think it looks cool but won’t know what it is. Additionally, those who know will chuckle a bit with appreciation while staring at it admiringly.