Saab-Powered, Hydraulics-Equipped: Not Your Average Ford Sierra…

I could stare for hours, and in fact I have. Just over four hours after I arrived at Michael Scullin’s place, I’m finally getting the last shots of his car in the bag. Custom builds that push boundaries excite me, and Michael’s Ford Sierra definitely does that.

Sure, it’s an old Ford with a 2.0L DOHC 16-valve turbo engine and slammed suspension – nothing too out of the ordinary in this part of the world – but how its owner and builder has gone about the modifications make this Sierra a true one of a kind machine, and something definitely worthy of a closer look.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (19)

It was back at Dubshed in early April this year that Michael’s Sierra stopped me in my tracks. I knew I needed to feature it, and it only seemed right to do that in the place it was created. This small home workshop in rural Northern Ireland is Michael’s space to play, be it on any one of his current builds or by sharing his love for cars through his Limited Slip Differences podcast.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (1)

Starting life as a humble Ford Sierra with a 2.0L twin cam engine up front, the tried and trusted modifying route around these parts would have seen Sierra RS Cosworth wheels fitted and a healthy dose of rear rake added, before a hunt for unattended cones and slabs of concrete ensued. But Michael had bigger ideas.

Wrapped in a shade of Fire Red, the Sierra’s exterior is reasonably subtle given the madness hidden within. That said, a Sierra RS Cosworth bumper and Rouse-style splitter toughens up the front end, with RS Cosworth side skirts and rear spats pulling the whole look together.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (83)

The interior too has been kept simple, but there are some really nice additions, like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII-sourced Recaro front seats. Michael has had these re-trimmed in suede, while the rear bench is straight out of a Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth. The chunky three-spoke wheel is another RS Cosworth piece, and here it’s assisted by a versatile GM power steering pump salvaged from an Opel Astra.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (84)
Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (88)

A pair of A-pillar gauges monitor the air/fuel ratio and boost, while another pair of gauges in the centre console feed information on engine oil temperature and pressure. Add a cheeky hydraulic handbrake into the mix and it’s clear this build has purpose. Which brings us to the engine bay…

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (45)

While a Ford Cosworth YB engine could be expected, Michael has taken a different route by fitting a Saab B204. This 2.0-litre, 16-valve turbocharged unit – found originally in some of the now sadly-defunct automaker’s 900, 9000 and 9-3 models – has become an underground hit for those looking for power potential, but for less money than a Nissan SR20DET or Cosworth YB. Anyone who’s listened to Michael’s podcast will be aware of the struggles he had with the engine, but a real sweet spot has now been found.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (52)

Having an expert handle the build – in this case Ali McClelland of Ali’s Garage – really has paid dividends, and once ECU mapping is complete 480hp should be realised.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (54)

At the heart of the improvements is a Pulsar 5449G (G25-660) turbocharger mated to a Precision Turbo PW46 external wastegate, which Michael says has really altered the way the car drives and improved its reliability. Chilled air from an FMIC Performance front-mount intercooler is fed through a Honda throttle body, while an uprated pump and 875cc injectors ensure a fuel supply that’s up to spec. A Lee Smart Racing custom aluminium radiator keeps the engine cool when Michael’s leaning on it.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (90)

If you thinking the driveline is going to be just as unexpected as the engine, you’d be right. The Sierra’s now running a BMW E30 M3 5-speed gearbox, with a Saab 9-5 Aero flywheel and Sachs pressure plate and custom six-paddle clutch transferring the power. A custom prop shaft runs out to a Sierra RS Cosworth rear end with a Gripper Differentials LSD.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (20)

For all the madness of the mechanicals, it’s the suspension that’s the icing on this fast Ford-shaped cake. See, it’s not air or a fully wound down set of coilovers that makes Michael’s Sierra look so special, but a custom hydraulic setup. Yes, hydraulics like a low rider, though this setup isn’t designed to make the Ford bounce.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (36)

Every corner is controlled by its own switch, with a custom converted B7 VW Passat pump at the heart of the system. But why, you ask? Purely form over function, and the practical fact that the hydraulic uprights are narrower than coilover or air bag struts, which opened up the extra millimetres required to get the wheels to fit.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (28)

Those wheels are a set of timeless Buddy Club P1s in white, which add a Japanese element to this UK, Swedish, and German mash-up. With the suspension dropped, Michael has really nailed his aim to build something that resembles an early-’90s touring car. And the brakes? A Porsche 911-sourced setup on adapted Ford Granada hubs.

Saab Turbo Ford Sierra Pic By CianDon on Speedhunters (26)

As I wrapped things up at Michael’s, I found myself grabbing one last cheeky look at the Sierra. Whether it’s sitting on the show floor at Dubshed, throwing rings at a local slab, or cruising down the prom in Portstewart, this Ford Sierra can do it all. It’s brilliantly bonkers.

Cian Donnellan
Instagram: Ciandon
Facebook: CianDonPhotography



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Saab powered? SAAB POWERED?
I don't know if this is a world's first but it's certainly a first for me


Here in Sweden (of course) we have a few crazy builds. The ones that probably stir up the most emotion is a MK4 Supra drift car, and a R32 Skyline street/show car. The Supra is pushing over 700 whp
Sacrilege to some, I think it’s awesome :)


"UK, Swedish, and German mash-up"
Is there any chance I've spotted some Australian in there too? That sombrero oval badge looks remarkably similar to ones sold by a group called the Mexican Hoon Cartel here in Australia that gets put on old Ford Falcon skid pigs. Or is it a worldwide thing?


I spy Larry Chen's sticker. LOL!

I certainly did not expect it to be sitting on hydros. Now this is a very brilliant car!


What a beautiful, beautiful car, congratulations to the owner.


Love it.
My old 9000T16 ‘HOT’ with a B202, T3 and some 4” plumbing ended up with 250kw and 350Nm torque. The early Saab/GM engines are real powerhouses with just simple mods.
To get nearly 400hp is really good. (Later engines had balance shafts which need removing to get high horsepower, which is a really big job. Love to see more about what he did - must find his blog then…


I love it when a car built has 100% built by it's owner's character.
I have never seen this Saab engine (most of swaps are K-LS-SR's etc, but if it's tested (probably in Scandinavia) and it's reliable, then why not? Well done to the owner for this project!