Introduced in 1981, Ford Meteor was the name given to the sedan version of the Ford Laser, based on the Mazda Familia (323) in markets including Australia and South Africa. Following much the same strategy in Europe was the Ford Orion, a four-door saloon which had Escort mechanicals. It ran from 1983 to 1993, and like the Meteor was absorbed into the range from which it was spawned.
First generation (GA, GB; 1981–1985)
When the Meteor was released in Australia in 1981 as the GA series, it replaced the larger Cortina, although this was a temporary measure before the Telstar was introduced. The Meteor name was dropped in Australia in 1987, with the Laser name used instead, but survived in South Africa, where it was used from 1986 to 1995.
The Meteor grille differed slightly and was available on one other model: a home-market Mazda Familia sedan. Replacing the Laser's amber indicators were white ones, and the grille had more of an "egg-crate" pattern than the plain black slats of the Laser. The Meteor also had larger headlights than the Laser, which had smaller ones "sunken" into the bodyshell. In Australia, it was only available with a 1.5 litre engine at launch, in GL and Ghia trims—the 1.1 or 1.3 were not offered. Naturally, it had a hard job replacing the Cortina, which had engines beginning at 2.0 litre, up to a 4.1 litre six-cylinder, as well as a station wagon option.
A mid-term facelift in 1983 dubbed GB brought the range closer together, with the same front end, though Meteors continued as a separate and slightly more premium line.
Second generation (GC; 1985–1987)
The Meteor tended to attract older buyers, so much so that when the 1985 Laser sedan was launched, it was felt that they would not mind if the vehicle shared its sheetmetal with the Mazda 323. However, from 1985, the Laser hatchbacks all had unique panels. Unlike Australia, the second-generation sedans were still badged Meteor in South Africa.