Follow by Email

Monday, March 9, 2015

GMC Syclone vs. Ford F-150 Lightning: Which Would You Buy?


Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.

Some things are simply designed to be fast from the get-go. The pickup truck naturally isn’t one of them. But that doesn’t mean America’s workhorse can’t also be a thoroughbred racer… with the right equipment in tow. 

Ford and GM figured out two different hot-truck recipes in the ’90s, most famously yielding the F-150 SVT Lightning and the GMC Syclone, but which is best? We found two of these speed bandits up for sale on eBay – a 1991 Syclone and a ’99 F-150 Lightning – and we want to know, if it were your money, which would you buy?


The early ’90s saw a bit of a sports car renaissance, but despite their evolving performance, few of those two-door coupes could hold a candle to GMC’s regular cab Syclone. The Sonoma on steroids donned a Borg Warner all-wheel-drive system, low-slung sports suspension, limited-slip diff, and bolted on 14 psi worth of turbocharger to its 4.3-liter Vortec V6. It sprinted like a man on fire.

The Syclone hard-lined 280 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque to the ground and disposed of the zero to 60 mph dash in just 5.3 seconds. That’s quick for today and unthinkable in 1991 terms. In fact, Car and Driver stacked a Syclone up against a Ferrari 348 in a quarter mile drag race. The Syclone won.

According to the seller, this nicely kept example is number 1,678 of the scant 2,995 produced for 1991, and it looks to be very clean with only 49,772 ticks on the clock.


The heady F-150 Lightning also used a four-speed automatic and regular cab setup like the Syclone, but that’s where the similarities begin to end. Ford’s Special Vehicles Team chucked the Blue Oval’s 5.4-liter Triton V8 under the hood, gave it an Eaton supercharger, and funneled all 360 of those horsepowers to the rear wheels. Zero to 60 mph was accomplished in a mighty respectable 5.8 seconds, and those digits were chipped away even further with added power and torque for 2001 and ’02.

This ’99 Lightning, according to production figures, is one of 1,533 red versions built that year, though given that Ford rolled out 4,000 total for ’99… it’s not as exclusive as the rarified GMC. The seller does note that this one packs quite a bit more grunt – 539hp and 630 lb-ft – thanks to a Kenne Bell blower under the hood, perfect for reliving your Brian O’Conner Fast and Furious parts truck fantasies.