Performance Trucks…Exit Stage Left

Today’s Truck & Sport Utility Performance

Anyone with a hankerin’ for a serious performance truck had better act fast because their days seem numbered. The rea- Sons for their downfall can be traced back to the truck that started it all, the GMC Syclone. The S-series compact truck packed a big-league wallop in the form of a 280 horsepower turbocharged V6, all-wheel drive powertrain and low-profile performance rubber. The truck could sizzle to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. So what could possibly be wrong with that? Well, first off the price, $25,500 and up. But the lesson learned from the Syclone was the buying public will not buy a truck that isn”t a truck. The Syclone’s payload capacity was a measly 500 pounds and its towing capacity was a hotly contested topic. Perhaps the Syclone’s cramped cabin should also be mentioned as many in the media, including myself, wanted an extended-cab version.

The next truck to step up to the plate was Chevy’s Pickup From Hell, the 454 SS. The truck, only available in black the first year or two, had 405 lbs/ft of big-block torque which translated into real truck usefulness. The overall performance of the 454 SS played to mixed reviews in the media. Its 0- 60 times of 7.5 and quarter mile runs of 16.07 at 86 mph for the inaugural ’90 model and 15.78 at just under 90 mph for the ’91 were seen as good for a full-size but disappointing when weighed against the hi-po hype that surrounded the truck. The 454 SS has been dropped from the Bow Tie lineup because of slow sales.

The next performance player was the GMC Typhoon which was a cross pollination of an S-series Jimmy and the Syclone. This truck was a hit as GMC moved most of the very limited number of units they produced. The Typhoon was capable of 5.4-second 0-60 performance and could seat five adults in leather-covered luxury. The Typhoon has what I believe to be the best combination of handling and ride in any truck. Needless to say I am a big fan of the Typhoon and cried in my Wheaties for days when I heard it was being discontinued. Part of the shock was I had heard a four-door test mule was being evaluated and I had just signed up with The GM Card to earn bonus money to buy one. As I understand it, the problem centers around the Jimmy/Blazer redesign originally scheduled for ’94. It seems the limited number of Typhoons produced would not be enough to offset the retooling costs necessary to convert the new body style. Hopefully, GMC will make use of the delay period and reconsider the Typhoon ‘ s fate. I have three grand in credit card receipts that say “Build ‘Em!”

Ford was kind enough to state from the get-go only 10,000 units of its Lightning super truck would be produced. Since 10,000 didn’t make it out the door in ’93, production will continue into ’94. When the last Lightning hits the road what are we going to be left with? The Ford Splash is a neat little package and the SuperCab is a good move. The pluses are the truck’s lowered stance, flareside bed and bright colors but what if people want more power? Chevy and GMC offer a full-size Sport/GT that consists of monochromatic paint and a stock 5.7- liter V8. The Dodge Ram sport truck will offer the 5.2-liter as standard trim and the 5.9-liter as an option. No V 10. Which may leave those who desire performance asking, “Where’s the beef?”