Patrick Lyons takes a look at the used Ford Laser TX3, its fine points, flaws and what to watch for when you buy one
Ford’s TX3 cars are the "hot" versions of the popular Laser range, being available in front-drive and four-wheel-drive versions and with turbo and non-turbo engines. The Laser TX3 Turbo 4WD performed impressively in the inaugural 12-hour race at Bathurst due to its stunning acceleration and impressive grip from the four-wheel drive.
Many TX3s have also performed brilliantly in rallies, hill climbs and other motorsport events. The TX3 began life in 1985 with a 1.6-litre fuel-injected engine, while the front-drive TX3 Turbo, introduced in 1987, used a 16-valve blown version of this engine.
Sure-footed motoring was also provided from 1987 through a four-wheel-drive model using the turbo-charged engine. From the start of the KF series in 1990, a twin-cam 16-valve 1.8-litre engine was made standard in the TX3 and a turbo version of this motor was under the bonnet of the 4WD hatch.
The power from the 1.8-litre turbo engine was considered too much for a front-drive car, so this version was dropped from the range. Even with the 1.6-litre engine, the front-drive car is noted for its torque steer which can be dangerous on slippery roads for inexperienced drivers.
Ford's 1.8-litre TX3 Turbo 4WD was launched at $2500 less than the 1.6-litre model, a move which helped make this car a popular choice.
But Ford stopped offering the TX3 Turbo 4WD from mid-1993 due to rising prices caused by the exchange rate and the advent of stiff competition from cars, such as the Lancer GSR. The 1.8-litre TX3 model continues. Lasers are generally trouble-free, but these "hot" versions may have spent considerable time competing in club rallies so they should be checked out.
Check for signs of body damage or repair, and your test drive should concentrate on ensuring there is strong acceleration. Abnormal whining from the turbo could indicate excessive wear.