Off The Rails: GMC Syclone Gets LS-Swapped

There are some vehicles out there that make the purist squirm when you talk about LS-swaps. Dodge, Ford, and even some Pontiac enthusiasts hate the idea of taking a vehicle and swapping in the Chevrolet Gen III or Gen IV engine. And while LS-swapped Grand Nationals are enough to make most Buick owners cringe at the sight of one, a GMC Syclone might take the cake when it comes to upsetting the hardcore fans.

GMC Syclones were first offered at the dealerships in 1991, with only 2,995 units being built. These neat little trucks housed a turbocharged 4.3-liter V6 and all-wheel-drive. In stock form, the trucks were capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds at 98 mph.

Initially, the guys over at The Swap Shop were going to pull the 4.3 engine and freshen it up, because it had issues with leaking seals and EGR problems. However, once the engine was out and the oil pan was removed, it was evident the V6 was in bad shape. All of the bearings were shot, as well as the crank.

If you bought one of these coveted trucks with a built 4.3-liter engine only to find out that the coveted power plant was shot, what would you do? Would you try and find another 4.3 engine or LS swap it?

It didn’t take the guys long at The Swap Shop to get a game plan for their Syclone. An LS swap made sense to them, and they wasted no time getting to work on the truck. But, they were not going to install a naturally-aspirated LS in the little truck. Instead, the team decided on a 1,000 horsepower turbocharged LS.

Here are some things that we really like about this build. First off, even with the LS-swap, the guys managed to leave the Syclone true to its form. The truck is still all-wheel-drive and turbocharged like any Syclone or Typhoon should be. And while we don’t have a problem with a two-wheel-drive setup, we like the fact that all four tires still spin. Second, if you watch the build videos, the vehicle was not hacked up to get the LS in place. Of course, some modifications had to be made, but it’s nothing that couldn’t be put back to stock, from what we could tell. And finally, this truck was built to be driven and raced. We can appreciate seeing this truck rocket down the quarter-mile at a Street Car Takeover event while running low-11s.

While LS-swapping a classic car or truck might not be for everyone, in the end, it’s just a matter of what the owner wants. If this includes modern-day performance and drivability, then an LS makes sense to us. Even in the case of an elusive Syclone.

Be sure and check out all of the videos of this Syclone build on The Swap Shop’s YouTube channel.

About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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