Ford Laser KA

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Ford KA Laser
Ford

Ford Laser KA

1981 - 1983
Country:
Australia
Engine:
4 cyl.
Capacity:
1297 cc
Power:
48.5 kW @ 5500rpm
Transmission:
4/5 spd. Man / 3 spd. Auto
Top Speed:
160 km/h
Number Built:
n/a
Collectability:
forget it
Ford Laser KA
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3

Introduction



Ford's long serving rear-wheel-drive Escort was due for replacement both here in Australia and in Europe. Through various model updates and styling changes the Escort was able to stay in service far longer than its mechanical specifications suggested it should, although the smallest of the Ford’s always had a huge allegiance of fans, and we are sure many will take us to task on making this claim.

Unfortunately for Ford their corporate “World Car” plan for a new front wheel drive vehicle was a little less coherent than much of the opposition. For the European market, Ford chose the European designed Erika/Escort, while Ford Asia/Pacific (including Australia) decided on a little badge re-engineering, the all new Laser being derived from the Mazda 323.

To further complicate matters, the Australian Laser was initially powered by the Mazda engines, however these were replaced in mid 1982 with the European designed but Australian-built CVH motor. The American market got the European variant, albeit with a styling revamp and marketed under the Escort/Lynx name plate.

Mechanically, the Laser in its initial form was identical to the 323. A transversely mounted 1.3 or 1.5 litre engine drove the front wheels through either a standard four speed manual transmission or optional five speed manual or three-speed automatic.

Mazda’s 323 had already garnered a stellar reputation for its road-holding, and so the Laser too benefited from four-wheel independent strut suspension that was tuned for precise road-holding while still affording ride and comfort levels superior to just about any other short wheelbase vehicles then on the market.

Ford initially started out offering the 1.3 litre car in three and five-door hatchback configurations mated to either a four-speed manual or three-speed auto transmission. The larger engines were offered with the same body configurations but with the added five-speed gearbox option for the up-market “Ghia” model.

Replacing the Escort RS2000 was always going to be a big ask, but there was a need for a Laser to at least try to carry forward with the tradition. Based loosely on the sporty three-door European SR3 model, the Laser Sport offered improved seating, complete instrumentation, revised rear quarter glass styling, a revised suspension setting, alloy road wheels and wider radial tyres. Unfortunately nothing was done to the engine.

Ford were naturally unsure of the market's acceptance of a vehicle that would be so obviously “non-Ford”. 'To help disguise its origins, the Laser received a completely new front-end styling, glass treatment, and interior and exterior paintwork. Assembled at Ford's Homebush plant from knock-down kits imported from Japan, it didn’t need to worry, the Laser quickly finding favor with those loyal to the blue oval but wanting a small economical 4 cylinder car.

And while Mazda, under the quota system, were able to import only 12,000 units, Ford at the same time were able to manufacture and market up to 30,000 Laser’seach year. It’s success was assured.
Ford KA Laser
Ford KA Laser

Visitor Rating:


Reader Reviews page 1 of 1
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Jonathan
Posted Recently
Why does the article state that nothing was done to the engine in the Sport version? The engine was indeed tweaked over and above the standard 1.5. The Sport version was a twin carb versus single carb in the other versions, with a resultant power increase of around 5 kw.
goray
Posted Recently
I swopped a genuine a9x turdana for a red layser in '84! Best fing i ever did!!!
ka laser
Posted Recently
my ka laser is the best thing i have drove b4 its quick and you can soup up the engin somthing chronic, i have won every race with my beast and it dose two wheel burouts
Jason Statham
Posted Recently
Mum had a yellow 1980 323 wagon (same base vehicle as the KA Laser) and it was the most uninspiring thing I think I've ever driven. Didnt stop. Didnt go. Scared of corners. If a Ferrari can be likened to Angelina Jolie, then the Mazda 323/Ford Laser could be likened to the hairy old cafeteria lady at school. Lumpy and slow, and smells bad every time it rains. My girlfriends drunk sister ran over a guy with one, and then stacked it into the front of his house though his fence. It seemed to be the only thing it was any good for.
 
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