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We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

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I try to visit Barn Finds and Bring-a-Trailer every few days just to check for any wild inspiration or really unique nuggets that would tempt me to open my wallet. So far, I haven’t found that perfect combination of performance, uniqueness, and budget, but I did find something today that absolutely sparked my interest and really took me back.

Back in high school in the mid-‘90s, my best friend and I worked construction for a summer with this local guy named Ronnie. He was one of the those good ol’ boys with a MacGyver mullet and a KISS tattoo, and he drove an early ‘80s GMC Sonoma that was held together with duct tape and prayers. He bought us our first beers and taught us all sorts of things that our parents didn’t want us to know, like how to get “free” cable and which Krispy Kreme employees would give us the leftover donuts in the back parking lot that were supposed to be disposed of at the end of the night. He was a walking, talking believe-it-or-not story, and I honestly don’t think we ever even knew his last name, but we did know that he worked really hard, and he was very generous and always paid under the table in cash.

So earlier today, when I saw a 1993 GMC Syclone listed on Barn Finds, I immediately thought of Ronnie. The Syclone was one of his two dream cars; the other was the pinnacle of all mullet cars, a T-top Firebird Trans-Am. The Syclone was often referred to during its limited run as the Ferrari-killer thanks to an article from a 1991 issue ofCar and Driverin which the compact pickup held its own - and even outperformed - a number of sports cars that cost many times as much, including a Corvette and a Ferrari, in one of the magazine’s more oddball comparison tests.And it was no surprise; GMC married a turbocharged 4.3L V6 that was capable of a 4.3 second 0-60 to a Borg Warner AWD transfer case, ensuring the tiny Syclone could handle just as well as it could accelerate.

I still remember the day that Ronnie pulled up in his black 1991 Syclone to take us out for a night on the town. My friend and I both assumed that his dream had been just that, but it turned out Ronnie was actually flush with cash and lived very modestly while occasionally splurging on cars, boats, and vacations when he really got the itch. That night, we learned from Ronnie and his “Black Beauty” Syclone to never judge a book by its cover, and that some of the greatest things come in some of the strangest packages.

-Trey Fennell



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