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The Power Pickup

The S-15 was GMC’s compact pickup truck going back to the mid-1980s. In 1991, the S-15 was renamed the Sonoma.  That same year, GMC released a performance version of the S-15 called the Syclone.  The strange spelling was due to the fact that Mercury owned the Cyclone model name.  Why GMC didn’t simply choose another name remains unanswered. 

The initial plan for the Syclone was to use the powertrain from the Buick Grand National.  In the end though, the Syclone added a Mitsubishi turbocharger to the Sonoma’s  4.3L V6 to bring it up to 280 hp.  The Syclone also used a Borg Warner all-wheel drive system that distributed 65% of the torque to the rear wheels and 35% to the front, sending more to the front if the rear wheels slipped.  The high power and four-wheel traction made the Syclone especially well-suited to straight line acceleration.  Car and Driver noted that the Syclone could beat a contemporary Ferrari 348ts in a quarter mile drag race. 

The Syclone only came in AWD and had a lowered suspension.  The lowered suspension made it less useful as a truck, limiting the load capacity, but it was hard to argue with the Syclone’s speed.  The Syclone’s looks were non-descript.  At first, it was available only in black, but later, other colors became available.  A small number of special edition versions were made with a Malboro tobacco livery and racing seats and steering wheel.  One Syclone was built to be the Indianapolis 500 pace car in 1992, but was passed over for that duty in favor of the Cadillac Allante.  All in all, fewer than 3,000 Syclones were produced and they remain highly collectable.   

GMC is a registered trademark of General Motors Company. 1A Auto is not affiliated with or sponsored by GMC or General Motors Company. See all trademarks.
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