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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Johnny Lightning 1991 GMC Syclone and 1992 GMC Typhoon




For a performance truck that went after many sports cars in the 1990's only Johnny Lightning can make the claim to be the only diecast replica out there.  In 1997 when the Truckin America series started JL's entry into the truck arena the GMC Syclone was a surprise appearance.  Then in 2009 the SUV version called Typhoon was introduced with improved details over the Typhoon.  With the latest find it's time to take a closer look at these two.






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General Motor's was hot in the 1990's making performance cars that come from all sorts of directions.  The Corvette ZR1, the Camaro SS, the Impala SS, and the GMC Syclone/Typhoon.  Like the Buick Grand National/Regal T-types of the 1980's it uses a turbocharger (this time sourced from Mitsubishi) to send boosted power to the 4.3L V6 motor to produce 280 hp and 350 Ib-ft of torque through a 4-speed automatic with a console shifter.  The aluminum wheels are as wide as the front wheels on a Corvette, while a full-time all-wheel drive system puts power down to all four wheels.  Combined with a smaller track, heavy duty suspension upgrades, and ground effects the Syclone and Typhoon's were the beast on the roads attacking may sports cars from left and right.  The Syclone was based on the GMC Sonoma and featured a tonneau cover and roll pan where the rear bumper used to reside/  The Typhoon was released in 1992 based on the three-door GMC Jimmy offering two more seats and more color options than the Syclone.  3,000 Syclone's were sold between 1991 and 1992, while the Typhoon sold more at 4,697 between 1992 and 1993.





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The Syclone was a surprise find when it was introduced in 1997, and unlike the real truck has been offered in may colors though the all-black version was often a rarity.  The first one I found was yellow with black lower trim and 5-spoke wheels with rubber tires that was better than the rubber tire versions offered later on with white wall tires!  The front has detailed square headlights with signal lights and foglights on the revised front bumper, while the grille area has the blacked-out GMC logo.  The sides show a bit of ground effects and exterior mirrors, while the rear-end has the exhaust tip and roll pan, yet the taillights look rather awkard and the bed area lacks a tonneau cover (though later models did have them with the holes for the support clips visible in the bed.  The interior has seating for two with bucket seats, console with shifter, Corvette steering wheel, gauges from a Pontiac Sunbird Turbo, HVAC controls closer to the driver while the radio is in the center of the dash.  The metal base shows a few drivetrain components in a not-so-sharp detail, while the hood opens to show the engine that does not have much depth to it unlike later JL's.  I think it's time for Johnny Lightning to revive the Syclone and completely revamp the tool.







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The Typhoon, on the other hand, was the last few new castings of the past JL that squeaked out in 2009 before the company restructured for the new Forever 64 and 40th Anniversary singles in 2009-2013, and with that the Typhoon gets more use though with a plastic base and using other wheels.  This black version was sold as the last few Ertl-badged JL's in 2013 and at least revives the nicely-done aluminum wheels and rubber tires, though I hate the plastic UPC code wrapped around the axle as its a pain to get off.  The all-black version looks sleek as well with detailed headlights, signal lights, foglights, and GMC logo in red on a front-end that looks much better than the Syclone.  The sides show off more depth in the flared fenders and ground effects with Typhoon badge in blue, though it lacks the exterior mirrors.  The rear has the smooth bumper, detailed taillights, and tailgate badging.







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The base shows off more of the drivetrain, especially the all-wheel drive system, but is still not as crisply detailed as other models.  The hood opens up to shows the engine block, intercooler, and drive belt as a separate component to add depth to the engine, and the fenders are not left alone with the brake fluid resovoir and battery on the right-side and the A/C evaporator core and airbox to the left of the engine.  Hard to get pictures of, but the interior is nicely done and highly detailed.  The dashboard has more depth with visible air vents, radio controls, and 4-spoke steering wheel.  The door panels are added and detailed, the shifter is a separate piece from the console, and the front and rear seats have the appropriate pattern.  The rear cargo area has the side spare tire inside as a nice touch.  The first release arrived in white with silver lower trim and is the only version by far with the metal base.  Out of the several Forever 64 releases the red with silver lower trim version with chrome 5-spoke wheels impressed me the most as I called it the "Ferrari Slayer"!






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It would be nice to see these two reunite again in the new Johnny Lightning, especially the Syclone that badly needs and update and most of the components can be borrowed from the Typhoon.




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Update:  I recently acquired the hard-to-find and very popular version of the GMC Syclone in its natural habitat of all-black with red Syclone on the doors, rubber tires, and a tonneau cover over the bed.  This one will be staying in its package while the yellow one shown above will be the loose version:



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