The GMC Syclone LSR (Land Speed Record) is synonymous for its 5 recording breaking feats at the time, the 2 most notable being the world’s fastest pickup truck and the first pickup truck to break 200mph all in one pass. Because the Syclone began prototype development in 1989-90 before production release in 1991, the GMC Syclone LSR is credited with helping spread public awareness and boost the Syclone into production as it was used in marketing campaigns to help promote sales.
GMC General Manager, John Rock asked Gale for a suggestion on marketing a GMC sport truck. “Go 200 mph in a pick-up truck” was Gale’s immediate response. So they went out and did it…300 inch V-6, intercooled, but no turbos. World’s Fastest Pick-Up Truck at 210 mph!
ASSAULT ON THE SALT
The storyline and history of the Syclone LSR actually goes beyond just a modified truck to run on the salt flats. In fact, the intended purpose of the project from GM’s side was not focused on breaking records (that was Gale Bank’s goal), but actually was a platform for motor and chassis testing. The records set were a bonus to the results of the testing. Banks originally wanted to have a full size all wheel drive turbocharged pickup to attempt the speed record. Only, GMC didnt offer a fullsize AWD turbo truck at the time. The Banks team ended up with a S15 with the 4.3L V6, the largest available powerplant GM offered in their s-series platform. Limited to having to use that engine, the Banks team set out and ended up boring and stroking the 4.3 to a 5.0L. To add a little more power, Banks set up front air intakes to create a ramcharger effect that would force air over heat exchangers that were setup with circulated ice water from a tank in the bed of the truck. With the increased flow of cool air into the intake, a cheap method (staying naturally aspirated) of power gain was had and the 5.0L V6 made 549hp. A significant step up from the stock 160hp the 4.3 V6 originally made.
Let’s go ahead and state the obvious. The LSR Syclone is in fact, not an actual Syclone. It’s a club coupe S15 dressed in the Cameo appearance package body kit. So why is it known and advertised as a Syclone? The simple answer; marketing. GMC Truck Division wanted to be the premier name in truck production and was looking for various ways to ensure anything they produced was done with precision and in the best quality they could offer. In 1989, prototyping was already underway with the Syclone and what better way to market your next upcoming release than to have the world’s fastest land speed record pickup truck? A fitting scenario if you consider that the 1991 GMC Syclone went on to be the fastest production truck and held that record for many years afterward.
An interesting part of the Syclone LSR’s history is that there was more than one truck that was built during the project.
“OK, there were 4 trucks…” – Harmon, August 2020
…to be continued.