The Ford Laser and Mazda 323 were sister cars. Both shared the same engine. Chassis, interior, bodystyles since 1981. For the 3rdgenerations (1990), the Laser and 323 still shared the Chassis, Interior and Engine BUT it looks totally different exterior wise. Thanks to Ford Australia Design team, which successfully differentiates the Laser from 323s (especially the TX3 and 323 GTI. The Ford Lasers were brought in to Malaysia by AMIM Holdings in CKD form (Completely Knocked Down) with Jigs from Australia. So the car is "1/2 Australian, 1/2 Japanese and born in Malaysia."
On 8/8/1990 my dad placed an order for a Ford TX3 1.8i DOHC 16v 2 Door Hatchback. It was priced competitively at RM56k OTR back then (as a Comparison, a Toyota Corolla 1.6 5dr Liftback Limited (M) were priced at RM52k and a Civic 1.5EX (A) were priced at 51k back then). It was only available in 1 colour which is Black. The features, mechanicals, interior and drivability will be covered later.
My dad was 41 at that time and was nicknamed “Mat Romeo” or “Mid-life crisis at work” whenever he drove the car. He was forced to sell the car 5 yrs later (1995) as he was transferred to work in Hong Kong (whole family followed 2 months later). I was only 16 yrs old at that time.
As I was only between 11 to 16 yrs old when my dad owned the car, I will share based on my experience as a passenger.
On the road:
The acceleration was great, 0-100km/h in 8.8 seconds, 50-80km/h (overtaking) in 5.2 seconds, and top speed was claimed at 200km/h though the highest speed my dad ever driven was around 160km/h only.
The ride and handling is on a firm side, the suspensions though very Advanced (more on that later) were quite hard, ride is uneasy on uneven roads. I remembered my dad took the TX3 to Cameron Highlands. The car is powerful enough to go up the hill in 3rd gear, so there is minimal gear change. It went charging up the hill comfortably it’s like saying “The steeper the better. Bring it on!”. I saw the car overtook cars such as BMW 5 series, Mercedes E-class, Toyota Celica, Honda Accords. Note that there’s 4 persons in the TX3 back then. I remembered I have no fatique at all and enjoyed the ride…
The interior space is very generous, it can accommodate 5 adults with ease and access is good due to the big wide doors though the seatbelt anchor is positioned too “behind” of the front seats and one required to reach way back to get the bracket. The rear seats were 60/40 split forward folding to expand luggage space.
The dashboard was disappointing (see Picture) it is exactly the same as lower end Lasers with no effort at all to make it “sportier”. The seat cushions are hard but comfortable, especially the semi-bucket front seats.
I just know the basics of the mechanical bits when my family owned the car. The engine is 1839cc 16v DOHC EFI engine that is the most powerful of 1800cc class ever in a locally Assembled car back in 1990. It has 103kw (140hp)@6500rpm and usable torque of 163Nm of 4700rpm. As a comparison, the BMW 318i back then is only 115hp.
The following was what I learned at the later part of my life. The brakes are 4 discs with front being ventilated. At that time, it was very advanced, in the era of Front Discs and rear Drums brakes found in most cars. The suspension is very advanced which is pioneered by Ford (1st seen in early 80s first generation Ford Laser and Mazda 323). It’s all round McPherson Struts with front and rear anti-roll bars with “dual-lateral links” at the rear. I also learned that the TX3 came with “Sports-suspension pack with stiffer springs and harder shocks”. Hence, it explained the hard, uncomfortable ride…
1) inline 4cyl DOHC 16v 1839cc EFI
2) Bore & Stroke of 84x85mm and compression ratio of 9:5:1.
3) Max Power: 140ps (103kw) @ 6500rpm
4) Max Torque 163Nm@4700rpm
5 speed manual
Suspensions: Independent, McPherson Struts front and rear (fr & rr), Fr and rr anti-roll bars with dual-link lateral arms at rear, All round dampers and springs (duh!).
Brakes: See review above.
Dimensions: (all milimetres)
Front track: 1430
Rear track: 1435
Wheels: White painted alloy rims with 185/60R14 tyres.
Fuel Consumption: 8L/100km averaged.
Fuel tank Capacity: 55Litres
See review above.
Price: RM56,000 back in 1990. This year (2006), a used 1991 unit in tip top condition with 2 owners up for RM8,000 only (from The Star Metro Classifieds Aug 2006). Pay RM16,000 MAX for 1994 last models even in top condition with low mileage and 1 owner.
What to look out for:
1)Abused unit with Accident damages, beware of Cut and Shut units.
2) Rust in roof (weld spot area), rear hatch area, under and side of door or rust in chassis
3)Avoid high mileage car as it means time for Overhaul.
4) The interior is well built and hardy so should not be any problem.
5) Avoid turbo or engine conversion cars as it spells higher maintenance and parts.
6) The TX3 initially came in black only, from 1992 onwards, it has a mild Facelift along Red, white and Green colour added...
7) BEST if it’s less than 3 owners, mileage below 250000kms, service history (if applicable), original engine with little or no modifications, original paint is a BONUS (but for 12-16 yrs old car, very hard to find one).