Lambo Beater: Tired 1991 GMC Syclone

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. The GMC Syclone and its partner-in-crime, the Typhoon, are typically purchased as collector cars, albeit ones that you can drive without too much concern about adding a few miles every year. Well, just like the weather, there are extremes that show you there are no rules in car collecting or tornados. This 1991 GMC Syclone here on craigslist in Florida is far from the over-waxed and rarely-driven status of many other of these high horsepower beasts, and it needs rescuing – now. 

Obviously, the paint is a disaster. The rear fender flare and quarter panel treatment is missing. Center caps are long gone, and the first photo revealed a damaged front air dam and visible surface rust on the hood, roof and mirror stalks. This is an impressive amount of cosmetic degradation for a relatively late model vehicle, and it makes me wonder how it got this bad. The seller ominously refers to some minor rust “…behind brake booster on firewall” and then doesn’t post any pictures. It’s had some money thrown at it in the form of engine mods that enable the current owner to “….spank STI’s, EVO’s, and smoked a Murcielago Lamborghini off the hole until 80 mph.” Encouraging!

The only other picture provided is of the title, which is certainly one of the few upsides here. The Syclone was parked due to needing a new harness for the injectors, or possibly some new ignition components. The seller doesn’t know for certain which issue it is that caused this poor Syclone to go from spanking to sitting. It is clear, however, he’s a bit delusional with the price tag as $5K is a number typically assigned to running, driving Syclones that may be a bit cosmetically challenged. This example’s issues run deeper than just its tattered paint, but I hope a sensible deal is struck so it can be saved.

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  1. RichS

    If it could be had at a discount (closer to $4K), I’d probably fix the mechanical stuff and drive it like that. Or be a real jerk and transplant the drivetrain into a boring white shortbox S10 with dog dish hubcaps and have fun with it.

    • Jeffro

      That is just wrong. But I like it. I love a sleeper!

    • Clinton

      Except it would look 100% awful. The front and rear differentials on these stick out wider than the body and they look TERRIBLE without the cladding. I redid one of these and sold it. Ex girlfriend of the seller ripped all the cladding off of it and that’s how I got it.

      • Clinton

        Here’s a photo of it before I sold it

      • mars2878

        sorry to inform you, but the only difference in the rear axles between these & a reg dime was the ratio & or posi. awd or 4×4 & ratio in front. that stickout that you see w/ the missing cladding is due to the backspacing in the rims

  2. Jay M

    That is a crime to destroy a Syclone like that. And the missing cladding is made from 100% pure unobtanium, so good luck.
    I love these trucks more than anything else, but realistically it’s a parts truck.
    You can buy a really good one for much less than restoring this one.
    And if you ever get the chance for a “Boost launch” in one…it will make you grin every time.

    • moorevisual

      I’ve had and still have some vehicles full of that unobtanium!

    • ACZ

      Try a “boost launch” with the transfer case in lo/lo.

      • Jay M

        BW 4472 T case is a single speed w/viscous coupling.
        No low/high.

      • Clinton

        It’s basically the a slightly modified AWD Astro van unit from what I’ve read.

      • mars2878

        Clinton – it is the exact same t-case that is used in the olds barvada & awd astro/safari vans. its just whether you have a 3″ or 4″ flange

    • Clinton

      They remake most of the cladding in fiberglass now which is good because the OE stuff is self destructing.

  3. Doug

    Ad says bought it in 2005 for $10K and put $5K in to it.
    And this is the condition of it now?
    What a shame…..

  4. sunbeamdon

    Me thinks a little underwater – figuratively and literally! If it ain’t a boat, it won’t float!

  5. Doyler

    For all you people who want contemporary opinions

  6. Howard A Member

    It is a shame, but this was a very cool truck. It could do 0-60 in 5.3 seconds and the 1/4 in 14.1@ 93mph, making it the fastest pickup made in 1991.( certainly nothing to be ashamed of) It was all-wheel drive, not like the a regular 4×4. One was saved, destined to be crushed in the “Cash for Clunkers” program, can you believe it? Maybe this was it. Great find, totally worth it. Very few remain, and restored ones go $50g’s and up ( a special one off “Marlboro” edition, brought $85) so the money is there. I’d rather drive it though. At least it wasn’t crushed.

    • J

      I remember that one from Cash for Clunkers. I didn’t know that it was saved. Do we know if it was saved before they locked the engine?

  7. D

    I like the sleeper idea!

  8. Korey

    Cladding is obtainable try sportmachines, they sell all kinds of syty parts. I wouldn’t say it’s a parts truck unless it’s a complete rust bucket. I have a 93 typhoon there great trucks but they are high maintenance and unfortunately a lot of people don’t understand that and then break something and lose interest in them or part them out.

  9. erikj

    I like it! Shame it looks so miss treated. The gmc street coupe is looking better for the money and rarity but rough also, but these are neat.

  10. patluvsvettes

    How does a GMC Syclone get in that kind of condition? Even when they were new, they were rare, very powerful trucks. My late step-father worked at a GMC dealer when these were new. He told me he saw one smoke a Lamborghini. Dealers were getting outrageous prices for these when they were new. What happened to this one? 5K for that POS? I don’t think so!

  11. Cubs win

    WRONG, you ain’t touching a nice one for 5k. This is a good buy and the cladding can be had, but it will be a challenge.

  12. hearsetrax

    indeed how the mighty has fallen ……

  13. irocrob

    I almost bought one in the late 90s. Hairy is the best way to describe the truck. This one is too rough for me

  14. edh

    Train wreck, I would be able to outrun this thing on foot fueled only by the terror of attempting to make it run again.

  15. dj

    All body cladding is available from a fabricator listed in Hemmings. Not that I’d want to fix this one but you can get the missing pieces.

  16. Don

    I guess patina only applies to older cars !

  17. John

    It would have been nice to see a picture of the “rust behind the brake booster” or even just a simple shot of the motor. As it’s shown, it’s not very impressive.

  18. Rob F

    repro claddings are fiberglass or urethane? issue with FG ones is it will not have the same texture and look as the urethane ones, so if you are seeking a high quality resto that would be something very annoying

  19. Arthur

    I think this Syclone got a thrashing from a hurricane.

  20. John B

    Florida weather is tough on any vehicle(land, sea or air) that ever leaves protected storage. This one is worth saving and using…anybody seen the prices on Buick GN and GNX models lately?

  21. David

    Whomever owns this truck is giving it away the the turbocharger alone go’s for 2g this was a factory hot rod

  22. Doug Towsley

    Sad, literally rode hard and put away wet. Reminds me of the only half joking “Typical sport bike ad on CL” Something along the lines of Ran when parked, its wedged into the side of a car I hit, but only needs a little work, I have to sell because its parked at my Baby mommas apartment complex, No title, BOS only. Only owe $3,000 to bank to get lien lifted, Text my friend as my phone got shut off and I have to pay my traffic tickets, Etc etc

  23. Darrell Carroll

    Now what I want to do is remake this beast with either newer s10 body or Colorado now that would be awesome with all the new tech could you imagine..

  24. Pat Schilling

    How sad to see this!
    I remember in 1991 when rumor had it that GMC had launched a pickup truck that would beat a Testarossa in the 1/4 mile.
    These trucks became sooo hip in my country during the 90ies!! Every hipster or “yuppie” back then had either a black Sy, Ty or Audi RS2 station wagon (all debadged of course) and wore all black clothes ;-). Zurich was full of these trucks.
    Bought my first Typhoon in 1995 and got hooked. Had to sell to pay tuition at Vancouver Film School but right after graduation I bought my second Typhoon. I remember getting a parking ticket in Zurich and the poor police officer hat to fill in “Geländewagen schwarz” (=SUV black) instead of the make and model because he couldn’t find a single badge and GMCs were not well known in Switzerland.
    Early 2000 most of those trucks were on there second owners. Young Hip Hoppers with chains, Bullterriers, baseball bats under the seats and cute but stupid girlfriends ownd them and lost interest as soon as the high maintenance thing caught them. Most SyTys suffered from tranny death because the 700R4 wasn’t built to handle all the heat generated from a perfect working AWD that didn’t allow any slip. Tranny shops packed there most advanced Corvette parts in there but they died over and over again. Car dealers refused to buy used SyTys back then, it was a known trouble car. German freeway use did the rest to all the unmodified SyTys. They didn’t like constant 120 mph over a few hundred miles. Too much heat in tranny, too small oilcoolers, knocking etc. etc. It all just didn’t hold up well, tranny, blocks, pistons, turbos … you pick one! The cure was you needed to know what was going on in your truck …. a few gauges, heat wraps, intercooler mods etc. did the trick. I personally gathered all the info on sportmachines and etc. translated these tips for the german SyTy folks and it got a lot better.
    Me and a friend of mine who specialized in servicing (and making bullet proof) these trucks organized a few SyTy meetings starting in 2001 and had a remarkable attendance as so many of those trucks got imported to Switzerland, Austria and Germany. We had good times with these trucks learning a lot about Turbo and OBD1 tuning plus using laptops on cars!
    My truck has 60k miles now and sleeps since at least 10 years in storage but it has a nice and cosy home, dry and in good company of an early 911. I’m spending all the money on kids clothes and family entertainment at the moment but one day my cars will return to the streets. I hope this poor Sy will manage that too!

    Cladding are an issue but yes there are repros and most of the claddings were painted either body color or gray so the surface isn’t a problem on the repros. In the last few years SyTys were not sought after in Europe. I’m not sure if that will ever change. It is probably the same thing as with the boxy late muscle cars from the 80ies and 90ies …. just not in demand.

  25. slickimp

    Wow that thing for a newer so called musle car is looking pretty bad


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