With all the difficulties the major manufactures are having nowadays, you might think that buyer's of GM's Saab division would be looking for the tried and true to take them home. Such is not the case for Kevin Yankton, owner of a 1997 Saab 900 Turbo. Working in partnership with well known Swedish tuner SQR, Yankton has crafted a truly unique ride. In an east-meets-west fashion, or more like California meets the frozen north, he has created something hot enough to warm a few hearts back in Sweden.

Starting with a 1997 Saab 900 Talladega rated at 185 bhp from 2.0 liters, the car has been transformed into a 500 bhp monster on the same 2.0 liters. Painted in the lime yellow metallic offered by Saab on its 2005 9-3 Sport Sedan convertibles, the car has been nicknamed WaSaabi after the spicy green Japanese sushi condiment. Project WaSaabi was built with several purposes in mind, one being to bridge the traditional Saab market to the more sport-minded tuner crowd, and the other to show what can be done with a stock Saab engine block. The car has been well-received at several well known car shows including Carlisle Imports (director's pick), Hot Import Nights (first place other European) and DUB Magazine (best in show, best undercarriage).

Still motivated by the stock 2.0 liters, the entire bottom end has been rebuilt with fresh bearings and rings, and the crank balanced to handle the intense forces that are now generated. Sticking with 2.0 liters preserved the vital engine and transmission components by moving the peak power output higher in the powerband. It now sports a much larger Garrett GT30R turbo, and with a custom exhaust header, full 3-inch downpipe and 3-inch exhaust, the engine is able to flow significantly more hot gas. Adding to this, the head has been ported and polished and the intake piping increased to 3 inches to allow for some really deep breathing.

Since heat is the death of any high-pressure, turbocharged application, a huge custom intercooler from Bell was fitted in place of the miniscule stock intercooler. To keep those charge temperatures extra cool, a Nitrous Express Ntercooler mister is used to spray nitrous on the intercooler core and seriously drop temps. To make sure charge pressures are properly vented, both an HKS SSQV blow-off valve and an HKS wastegate are employed to keep things under control when off the boost. The fire-breather has been mated to a five-speed transmission from a 2004 9-3 Sport Sedan with a Sellholm limited-slip differential and a Sachs sport racing six-puck clutch.

To handle all the power, the suspension has been reinforced with custom front and rear strut tower braces, a boxed rear axle and front chassis brace. H&R springs have been combined with Koni fully adjustable dampers, along with Antera 18-inch Style 321 wheels and Pirelli P-Zero Rosso 225/45 tires, to keep the car under control. To bring this sled to a stop, cross-drilled 12-inch front rotors and performance pads have been combined with upgraded Viggen brake assemblies in the rear.

Not to be left out of the show, the interior and body have also been upgraded to keep pace. To accent the metallic lime yellow paint, custom carbon-fiber pieces have been styled including the front hood, front grille and rear wing. Adding to the custom look, M3-style mirrors with integrated blinkers, a polished billet aluminum fuel door and European E-code headlights were installed. A body kit from the Saab sport Viggen model adds to the overall image. While not exactly a stealthy vehicle, it definitely catches people's eye. The funny thing is that most people really like the look, but cannot tell you what type of car it is. When they find out it's a Saab, the surprise is evident on their faces.

To keep the smile there, the interior has been completely redone to provide a cocoon of luxury and performance. First, a complete blue and black, two-tone Viggen leather interior is installed over 35 pounds of B-Quiet sound deadening material. Carbon-fiber accents on the dash, door pulls, B-pillars, three-gauge pod and entry panels combine with the suede leather dash and center console to provide a contrast of colors and textures. Three SPA dual digital gauges enable the driver to keep tabs on the engine vitals. Last, a Kenwood Excelon 6.5-inch in-dash DVD/monitor, two Excelon amplifiers generating 2,600 watts, SIRIUS satellite radio and a rear video camera finish off the experience.

While the future for GM may be somewhat cloudy, there are high hopes for the future of Saab products. Cars like WaSaabi prove a fire still burns within true enthusiasts. Being the most powerful Saab in North America isn't easy, but this is truly a vehicle that stands apart from its peers, not only in performance, but also through sharply honed attention to detail.

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