GMC Syclone Returns With a Twist

After a 28-year absence, the world’s most iconic sport truck is making its return to the GMC lineup. The Syclone, produced last in 1991, will be available to order at GMC dealerships once again with a limited production run of only 100 models.

The new Syclone is a collaborative effort between General Motors and Special Vehicle Engineering. GM’s role in the special project is relatively simple — supply the canvas and let the artist go to work. Built on the chassis of an extended cab 2019 GMC Canyon, SVE then transforms the pedestrian pickup into a tire-scorching sleeper.

While the original Syclone blew away the competition with its turbocharger, the new model is set to create whirlwinds with its centrifugal supercharger. The blower boosts output on the midsize Canyon’s 3.6-liter V6 to 455 horsepower—nearly a 50 percent increase from the pickup’s 308 horsepower factory rating.

The new model certainly looks the part of a high-performance pickup too, with “Syclone” badging on the doors and tailgate offering the first clue that this is no ordinary Canyon. An aggressive hood insert flanked by “455HP” badges further cements this assertion, revealing the potency of the powertrain lurking beneath. Body-colored rocker panel extensions, front grille surround, grille bars, and rear bumper replace the gaudy chrome factory components and give the Syclone a true sport truck appearance.

The Total Package

2019 GMC Syclone engine
Under the hood of the 2019 GMC Syclone with SVE | Specialty Vehicle Engineering

While SVE could have stopped there, this truck isn’t your typical “boost and badge” conversion that we have seen from other aftermarket tuning shops. When working with a namesake as historic as the Syclone, no shortcuts are permitted.

It’s safe to say that if you’re one of the fortunate 100 individuals to purchase one of these potent pickups, it’s not going to be driven like a regular truck. SVE figured as much, and fitted the Syclone with massive six-piston forged front calipers and two-piece 13.6-inch slotted rotors to safely bring the truck down from triple-digit speeds. These replace the Canyon’s standard four-piston setup and 12.2-inch one-piece rotors that would fade quickly if subjected to performance driving.

You can’t build a pickup that accelerates and stops like a sport truck without having the suspension to match. As a result, handling is enhanced by the addition of SVE’s “Sport Suspension Package” that lowers the truck two inches in the front and five inches in the rear. Performance tuned shock absorbers, HD spring bushings, and a larger diameter rear sway bar greatly reduce body roll, while heavy-duty traction bars and Y-rated performance tires help deliver the Sylcone’s 455-horsepower to the pavement.

Living Up To The Syclone Name

1991 GMC Syclone
1991 GMC Cyclone | Photo submitted by Jordon Schultz

In addition to its forced induction setup, the new Syclone differs from its predecessor in more ways that one. First, the new truck is significantly larger, as the first generation was built exclusively on the regular cab Sonoma chassis. Second, the new Syclone will be offered in all-wheel drive like the original model, but a rear-wheel drive configuration can also be ordered. And last, the pickup can be ordered in any factory Canyon color, while the 1991 Syclone was only offered in black.

Its differences notwithstanding, the new Syclone appears worthy of wearing the historic nameplate. While performance figures haven’t been released, this truck will assuredly deliver class-leading acceleration and quarter-mile times in the midsize truck segment just like its predecessor.  But rest assured, that performance and exclusivity doesn’t come cheap. SVE’s conversion will reportedly cost $39,995 on top of the Canyon’s MSRP.

In a market void of sport trucks almost entirely, the Syclone is a welcome addition to inject some flavor in the segment. Automakers themselves aren’t likely to prioritize sport truck development anytime soon, as it’s a costly endeavor to cater to a niche market with low sales projections. Perhaps SVE’s initiative will spark the interest of other aftermarket companies in the future to head start similar projects. Hopefully, the Syclone won’t be the last in a storied line of sport trucks built to haul something a little more crass than cargo.