Back in the 1980s, GM experimented a lot with turbocharged engines, which was in sync with industry trends at that time. The most famous of them all was the Buick Grand National or Buick GNX. It featured a 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine with a fewer than five-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration time. With that kind of firepower, those black Buicks were terrorizing the drag strips and stoplights. By the early 1990s, the Buicks were gone, so GM engineers were looking for a place to install their turbo hardware.
The GM engineers decided to make a crazy sports truck out of a plebian Chevrolet S10. It would be a compact pickup with diminutive four-cylinder power. This is how the GMC Syclone was born. GM took an ordinary S10 body shell and installed a 4.3-liter V6 with a turbocharger good for 280 HP. It had a special four-speed automatic GM sourced from the Corvette and a performance-based all-wheel drive.
The power figures may not sound like much these days, but the Syclone was able to sprint to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds, making it faster than contemporary Ferraris. The key was its lightweight, small dimensions and lots of torque from a turbocharged engine. The price was significantly higher than the regular model.
GM built less than 3,000 Syclones, almost all of them in signature black color. The Syclone wasn’t the first performance truck, but it was a first turbocharged compact pickup GM designed to win stoplight races. This made it quite unusual and unique. Today, the GMC Syclone is a collector vehicle and a highly desirable model. It is still quite fast and can hold its own against those much younger and more powerful cars.