Specialty Vehicle Engineering's 750-horsepower GMC Canyon fully revealed

Ronan Glon


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GMC's celebrated Syclone will turn 30 in early 2021, but nothing suggests the company will mark the occasion by releasing a modern interpretation of the pickup. New Jersey-based tuner Specialty Vehicle Engineering (SVE) is taking the matter into its own hands by building a limited number of GMC Canyon trucks with Hellcat-like power.

Although the original Syclone received a turbocharged V6, the 2021 model gains a 5.3-liter V8 normally found in bigger vehicles, including the Sierra and Yukon. SVE rebuilt it with forged aluminum pistons, forged steel connecting rods, high-lift valve springs, a custom crankshaft and upgraded fuel injectors among other aftermarket parts. It also added a supercharger to raise the eight's output to 750 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Power flows to the four wheels via a strengthened 8-speed automatic transmission and a permanent all-wheel-drive system.

For context, the first Syclone gave the Chevrolet Corvette a run for its money with a fuel-injected, 4.3-liter V6 turbocharged to 280 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. These numbers were spectacular in the early 1990s since the Sonoma that Syclone was based on shipped with the 105-horse Iron Duke four-cylinder as standard. Even compared with the Sonoma GT that got a naturally aspirated 4.3-liter V6 with 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, the Syclone was impressive.

SVE installed six-pistons front calipers that clamp 13.6-inch slotted rotors, and it kept the factory brakes out back. It also lowered the suspension by two inches in the front and five inches in the back, upgraded the shocks, and added a heavy-duty rear sway bar. These modifications help drivers make the most of the extra power, but SVE hasn't published performance specifications (like the truck's zero-to-60-mph time) yet. Surprisingly, the eight-cylinder weighs almost the same as the V6 it replaces so the engine swap doesn't affect weight distribution.

Visually, the Syclone can't be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill Canyon. It wears a deep front bumper, has cladding over the rocker panels and rides on 20-inch alloys. Edition-specific emblems round out the look, and the list of options includes a body-colored grille as well as a folding tonneau cover. SVE's images show a truck painted black, which was the only color offered on the 1991 model, but it's available in any factory hue. Inside, the modern-day Syclone gains special floor mats and a numbered plaque on the dashboard. Leather is optional.

SVE stressed the Syclone is not merely a one-off built to turn heads and drop jaws at the annual SEMA show. It's headed to production, though only 50 units will be available and pricing hasn't been announced yet. Autoblog reached out to the company, and we'll update this story if we learn more. Also worth noting is this modern-day Syclone summoned a dark cloud of disapproval from California regulators, so it's not emissions-compliant there.

This isn't the first time SVE has resurrected the Syclone nameplate. In 2019, it built 100 examples of a Canyon-based muscle truck that put 455 horsepower under the driver's right foot thanks to a supercharged, 3.6-liter V6. It charged approximately $40,000 for the conversion, and it sold it through select GMC dealers across America.