Throughout the last quarter-century, General Motors has built some unique high-performance machinery. From the late '60s and early '70s there were the mighty Buick GSX, the Pontiac GTO Judge, the ZL-1 Corvette and the Oldsmobile 442 with the W-31 engine option. More recently, Buick built the GNX sports coupe in 1987. And in 1989 Pontiac offered a special turbocharged Pontiac Trans Am 20thanniversary edition. These days you'll pay a small fortune for one of those vehicles - if you can find one. But if you prefer something new that is brutally fast, extremely rare and has a good shot at becoming a classic, take a look at the GMC Typhoon. Press the accelerator and the Typhoon will unleash a gale-force dose of power that will blow you away. The Typhoon is a wild, bodacious two-door sport-utility vehicle that feels like it could give a 747 jetliner a good run for the money. There is nothing like the four-wheel drive Typhoon available from any other automaker. Never has been. With trucks and sport-utility vehicles all the rage, the Typhoon has a real shot at collector status. Only 4,700 were built in the 1992 and 1993 model years. And GMC says Typhoon won't be back for 1994. PERFORMANCE I never have driven any six-cylinder vehicle that had this much power. The Typhoon is the Dodge Viper of trucks. Its acceleration would best be described as violent and neck-snapping. In designing the Typhoon, GMC engineers raided the General Motors parts bins and culled the company's best high-performance equipment from Oldsmobile, Buick and Chevrolet. They came up with a high-octane muscle truck that can leave every other truck on the planet - and most sports cars - in the dust. Under the hood is a 4.3-liter, V-6 engine from Chevy's S-10 Blazer. Connected to it is the same turbocharger that Buick bolted to the high performance Buick GNX sports coupe. Horsepower is rated at 285 - that's just 15 ponies shy of what you'll get in a Corvette. Typhoon's zero-to-60 mph time is quoted as being ''under 6 seconds.'' The full-time, all-wheel-drive system ensures maximum traction as the Typhoon thunders up to speed. The Typhoon uses the same terrific all-wheel drive system found in the upscale Oldsmobile Bravada sport-utility vehicle and the same computer controlled four speed automatic transmission Chevrolet used in last year's Corvette. The howling, growling exhaust lets others know that they most likely wouldn't stand a chance in a race from a stoplight. HANDLING The Typhoon's road manners are just as impressive as its performance. From the specially designed Firestone Firehawk tires to the high-performance suspension system that makes it lower to the ground, GMC engineers didn't miss a trick in making the Typhoon the best handling sport-utility vehicle ever built. Fat 16-inch, high-speed-rated tires keep the Typhoon planted firmly on the paveme nt. The independent front suspension system incorporates torsion bars, a stabilizer bar, unequal-length control arms and electronic load-leveling shocks. That all translates into a ride that is very firm. Even in the tightest curves, the body didn't lean much. Thesteering is power-assisted, but it takes a bit of muscle to turn the wheel. However, the Typhoon's steering is tight. You can turn a circle in just 35.4 feet. The Typhoon's front disc/rear drum brakes are strong, and capable of arresting the vehicle's speed quickly and without fuss. A computerized anti-lock system is standard on the Typhoon. FIT AND FINISH Inside, the Typhoon sports a pair of leather-covered bucket seats, a unique instrument package, and the same floor-mounted shifter that is used in the Corvette. This is far and away the best interior package I've ever seen in a GM truck or sport-utility vehicle. But sadly, with only 4,700 Typhoons built, not many other people are going to see it. You couldn't ask for better seats. They are comfortable, great-looking, and they come with six-way electric adjustments and power lumbar supports. The gauge package is fabulous. There's a full set of stylish analog gauges in dark orange. Even the leather-wrapped steering wheel has been given extra padding. Unlike the standard-issue GMC Jimmy, on which the Typhoon is based, you can't tow anything or load it with heavy cargo. When GMC engineers designed the Typhoon's special suspension system, they improved handling over the standard Jimmy, but sacrificed the vehicle's ability to pull heavy loads. However, the rear seats fold down, and there's plenty of room for large, lighter packages. Our test vehicle came stuffed with just about every power accessory you could want in a vehicle. That's one reason the price was more than $30,000. The bright aqua paint job and special body trim gave the Typhoon an aggressive appearance. Not many people can afford a vehicle like the Typhoon. It's more of a toy for the well off than a serious piece of transportation. But the Typhoon deserves a parking space in GM's historical collection of high-performance, limited-production machines. Truett's tip: The all-wheel drive GMC Typhoon is in a class by itself. There is no other sport-utility vehicle that can out-hustle it.
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