Like the Sonoma-based Syclone pickup truck from 1991, GMC produced a high-performance SUV for a brief time in the early 1990s. Based on the Jimmy, the GMC Typhoon used the same 4.3-liter V-6 engine that was modified by Production Automotive Services and put into service with the Syclone. The motor sported a turbocharger and intercooler which boosted power to 280 hp, though devotees surmise that true output is much higher.
All-wheel drive helped ensure that the engine’s power wasn’t just used to shred tires, upgraded brakes were required to stop the SUV, and an air-operated self-leveling rear suspension helped to take some of the harshness out of the performance tuned suspension. The Typhoon wasn’t as fast as the Syclone, mainly because of its heavier weight, but it was still plenty quick. Quarter-mile times were regularly recorded at 14.1 seconds by the press, and 0-60 times were around 5.3 seconds.
The GMC Typhoon today is unique in that it was the first (and for a very long time only) performance SUV, and it was a legitimate one at that. Fewer than 5,000 were built, which makes it thin on the ground, and difficult to find in well-cared-for condition. And while the Typhoon is slightly slower than the Syclone, it is more luxurious inside, and can seat more than just a friend, making it a good alternative.