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The Ford Laser is a compact car sold by Ford in Asia, Oceania, and parts of South America, and Africa. It has generally been available as a sedan or hatchback, although convertible, wagon and pick-up versions have also been available in different markets.

Relationship to Mazda 323

The Ford Laser was a restyled version of the Familia/323 models produced by Mazda in Japan from 1980 onwards. (Ford had acquired a 25% stake in Mazda in 1979.)

In Australia and New Zealand where Ford was seen as a 'local' brand, the Laser outsold its Mazda twin, but in neighbouring Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, as well as Japan itself, the reverse was the case. However, pooling resources with Mazda allowed Ford to maintain a foothold in the region. This was also the case in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, where the Laser was also sold, in many cases being locally assembled.

KA/KB (1981–1985)

KA 1981-1983, KB 1983-1985

Engine specifications:

  • Mazda E1, 41 kW (55 hp) 1.1 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L' and 'GL' New Zealand models)
  • Mazda E3, 27 ft 9 in (8.46 m) 49 kW 1.3 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L' and 'GL' models)
  • Mazda E5, 54 kW (72 hp) 1.5 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L', 'GL' and 'GHIA' models)
  • Mazda E5, 59 kW (79 hp) 1.5 L Twin Carb 8V SOHC ('Sports' models)
  • Mazda E5T, 78 kW (105 hp) 1.5 L Carb 8V SOHC Turbo (limited edition 'Turbo' models)
  • Mazda E5T, 85 kW (114 hp) 1.5 L EFI 8V SOHC Turbo ('Turbo' Japan models)

KC/KE (1985–1990)

The 1985 KC Laser/GC Meteor was the model's first major redesign. All body styles were carried over, with the addition of a station wagon (badged as "Meteor", like the sedan) from 1986. A new "TX3" variant, which was half-way between "GL" & "Ghia" in specification level, replaced the "Sport" variant from the KB series. Unlike the Sport, the TX3 was only available as a three-door. The "L" & "GL" models were no longer available as a three-door. A notable change was the introduction of engines capable of running on 91RON Unleaded petrol (this became mandatory in Australia from 1986). The 1.5-litre engine that was optional on GL, and standard on Ghia in the KB series was replaced with a new 1.6-litre unit. For the first time, Electronic Fuel Injection, was available as an option on Ghia and TX3 models. Buyers who ordered automatic transmission with this engine received an electronically-controlled 4-speed unit, which was quite advanced for a small car in 1985. The 1.3-litre engine was standard on the "L" (hatch-only – the wagon had a 1.6-litre engine). The 1.6-litre engine was standard on GL, Ghia & TX3. Fuel injection was optional on Ghia (standard on wagon) & TX3.

KC model range:

  • Laser L
  • Laser GL
  • Laser Ghia
  • Laser TX3
  • Meteor L (wagon only)
  • Meteor GL
  • Meteor Ghia

In October 1987, Ford introduced a facelift of the KC series, the KE. There were a number of notable changes with the introduction of the KE. The "Meteor" name was dropped from the sedan and wagon body styles, meaning they were now badged as "Laser", like the hatchback variants. The TX3 was also now available with a turbocharged engine, and even All-Wheel-Drive, as options. The TX3 Turbo with AWD is now very rare and highly sought after. Another interesting fact is that the AWD was fully imported from Japan, while all other models in the Laser range were manufactured locally in the Sydney suburb of Homebush.

The KE is easy to distinguish from the earlier KC, by different grilles, headlights, tail lights, body-side mouldings, bonnet, front guards, and on some models, wheels. The dashboard and instrument cluster received new graphics, and the interior was available in slightly different colour shades to the KC. In mid-1989, in preparation for a new ADR (Australian Design Rule) to come into effect in 1990, all models were fitted with a high-mount rear stop lamp as standard. When the redesigned KF Laser was introduced in March 1990, the wagon continued in a sole GL specification, with minor upgrades until 1994, when Australian production of the Laser ceased.

The "L" is quite rare, as it was primarily aimed at the budget or fleet buyer. It had silver-painted 13" steel wheels, with no centre caps, a large analogue clock in the instrument cluster, no passenger-side rear-view mirror, vinyl interior trim, no body side mouldings, no rear windscreen wiper, and the folding rear seat was only one-piece. The stereo was also AM-only and had no cassette player. Air conditioning was not available. The only engine on offer was the 1.3-litre engine, with 4-speed manual transmission (no automatic was available). The "L" wagon had the same level of trim, except the 1.3-litre engine was replaced with the 1.6-litre unit but still with 4-speed transmission and no automatic available.

The "GL" was the most popular model. It featured the same silver-painted 13" steel wheels as the "L" but with satin chrome half-width centre caps (only covering the centre of the wheel), a digital clock on the top of the dashboard, cloth interior trim, grey body side mouldings, a rear windscreen wiper, grey tailgate and beaver panel garnishes and 50/50 split-fold rear seat. The stereo was an analogue-tuned AM/FM unit with a basic cassette player. Air conditioning was optional as a dealer-fit accessory. Power was provided by a 1.6-litre engine, with 4-speed manual transmission (5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic was optional). Sedan and wagon came standard with 5-speed transmission.

The Ghia was the top of the range model. It had black 14" steel wheels with full-size plastic wheel covers, power steering, body-coloured rear-view mirrors and bumpers, velour interior trim, tachometer, centre console with Ghia emblem, lockable glovebox, driver's seat with lumbar support and height adjust, storage drawer underneath the front passenger seat, full-size interior door trims, vanity mirror in passenger sunvisor, ticket holder in driver's sunvisor, felt interior hoodlining and sunvisors, rear headrests, additional warning lights in the instrument cluster, central locking with illuminated driver's door lock barrel, remote exterior mirrors, front door map pockets, front seatback pockets, additional reading lamps, chrome insert strips in the body side mouldings and bumpers, red tailgate garnish and orange beaver panel garnish. Air conditioning and power windows were optional. The stereo was a digitally-tuned AM/FM unit, which featured a cassette player with Dolby enhanced sound. The 1.6-litre engine was fitted as standard, with EFI optional (standard on wagon), with either 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission (EFI automatic was 4-speed).

The TX3 was half-way between GL & Ghia in specification. It came standard with 14" satin-chrome alloy wheels, sports cloth interior trim, red insert strips in the body side mouldings and bumpers, black tailgate and beaver panel garnishes, and all other Ghia appointings. EFI was standard, and automatic transmission was not available. The TX3 also had a unique front fascia with quad headlights and the parker lamps incorporated into the indicator lenses (L/GL/Ghia had the parkers inside the main headlight unit) and two-tone paint.

Half-way through KE production, Ford introduced two limited edition versions, called "Redline", and "Livewire". The Redline was baed on the GL hatch, while the Livewire was based on the GL sedan and hatch. The Redline featured the TX3's alloy wheels, two-tone paint and red inserts in the body-side mouldings and bumpers, air conditioning, and a tachometer. The Livewire featured yellow inserts in the body side mouldings and bumpers, air conditioning, and a tachometer. Both models had 5-speed manual transmission (as opposed to the standard 4-speed) as standard, with 3-speed automatic transmission as an option.

KE model range;

  • Laser L - Hatch or wagon
  • Laser GL - Hatch, sedan or wagon
  • Laser Ghia - Hatch, sedan or wagon
  • Laser TX3
  • Laser TX3 Turbo
  • Laser TX3 Turbo 4WD

Engine specifications:

  • Mazda E3, 49 kW (66 hp) 1.3 L Carb 8V SOHC ('L' and 'GL' models)
  • Mazda E5T, 85 kW (114 hp) 1.5 L EFI 8V SOHC Turbo ('Cabriolet' Japan models)
  • Mazda B6, 53 kW (71 hp) 1.6 L Carb 8V SOHC ('GL' and 'GHIA' models)
  • Mazda B6, 62 kW (83 hp) 1.6 L EFI 8V SOHC (option on 'GHIA' models and standard on 'TX3' models)
  • Mazda B6T, 100 kW (130 hp) 1.6 L EFI 16V DOHC Turbo ('TX3 Turbo' and 'Turbo 4WD' models)


KF/KH (1989–1995)

KH Ford Laser GL 1992

KH Ford Laser GL 1992 in Melbourne, Australia

Engine specifications:
  • Mazda B3, 47 kW (63 hp) 1.3 L Carb 16V SOHC ('XL')
  • Mazda B6-2E, 64 kW (86 hp) 1.6 L Carb 16V SOHC ('L', 'XL', 'GL', 'Horizon', 'Livewire' and 'Indy' models)
  • Mazda BP SOHC aka B8, 76 kW (102 hp) 1.8 L F/I 16V SOHC ('GHIA', 'S' and 'GLi' models)
  • Mazda BP DOHC, 92 kW (123 hp) 1.8 L F/I 16V DOHC ('TX3 non-turbo' models)
  • Mazda BPT, 117 kW (157 hp) 1.8 L F/I 16V DOHC Turbo ('Turbo 4WD' models)

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