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Restorations: Bringing back a Legend – Ford TX3 1.8



Are you over 40? Were you already driving in the early 90’s? Are you a petrolhead? If you’ve answered yes to all those questions, or even 2 out of 3 of them, and lest you spent the 90’s under a rock, you’ll remember the Ford Laser TX3 1.8. It’s impossible to not remember this car, if only because it re-wrote the books on the ‘hot hatch’ genre when it was first introduced. Back when most other run-of-the-mill cars were puttering around on 1300cc and 1500cc engines, this TX3 came with a stonking 1800cc DOHC, 16-valve EFi lump with 143bhp, right out of the crate. Earth-shattering figures they may not be today, but back in the early 90’s, these specs were nothing short of biblical.


I’d been toying around with the idea of finding one, buying it and restoring it for quite some time, and even went to see a few that I’d found for sale online. Due to the fact that the TX3 was very much a boy-racer car, most had been abused to within an inch of their lives and all had been TTD (trashed to death). Most of the good ones weren’t for sale. I’d just about given up hope when per chance, I stumbled on this ad:


I had to check it out, because the lines looked straight and the badly faded front headlight covers meant that those were the original lights, which could mean that the car was accident free. Apart from the alloy wheels (the original alloys on the TX3 were white!) the car looked ‘unmolested’ in any way. I’m quite glad I called and despite it being a Sunday, the seller agreed to meet me right away.


The car had been lying in a shoplot for quite some time, it was dusty and looked like it had not moved since cassette decks were the latest and most happening in-car accessory. In short, it looked like a ‘barn-find’, and in many respects it was. I found out that the previous owner was a lady, which meant the car had no typical ‘boy-racer’ modifications, and while the 300k mileage was quite high, the car had not been TTD’d all its life. I also found out that said lady had owned this car from new!


The seller connected the battery, made sure to tell me that the remote-controlled central-locking still worked (in fact he mentioned it three times as a selling point of sorts) and fired her up. I remembered the sound immediately. It was a genuine TX3 alright, and I knew right away, just from the way it was purring, that everything under the hood was still original.


First order of business was to get the car washed to have a closer and more accurate look at the body, which soon after revealed some surface rust and faded areas. Not an issue all things considered seeing as how the lines were all straight, as well as the panel gaps. The long TX3 doors did tend to sag over time due to the weight on the hinges, but the ones on this car didn’t. In fact the doors opened and closed reassuringly. I’d already made up my mind even before the seller began his pitch, it was just a matter of price now.


A bit of haggling and a firm handshake later, this icon of the 90’s was mine. I was thrilled.

Upon collecting the car a week later after all the necessary documentation was taken care of, I immediately drove to a friend’s garage to have the car fully serviced and all its lubes and liquids transfused. It was then off to the paint shop and I’d decided (after seeing BOTH at KLIMS – a sign perhaps) to paint this car in tribute to a couple of its stablemates, the Mustang GT500 and classic Mustang convertible; the original Pony-car.


It has been about three weeks since the car emerged looking like this, and she’s been running superbly. I’m really not sure how many horses have escaped from under the hood since the car was new in 1991, but it’s still an awesomely quick car with one of the sweetest revving engines I’ve ever come across. It’s hard to believe that this car is more than two decades old, because it still goes (and more importantly, stops) exceptionally well. I guess I should get the suspension looked at next; there’s a reason the nickname for this model is ‘Sampan’ (boat) and that’s because it’s a bit ‘floaty’ at high speeds.


All in all though, it’s one of the better purchase decisions I’ve made in recent memory, and I’m loving every second of driving it. There’s a lot of life left in ‘old-skool’ cars like this, and many out there definitely deserve a second chance, like this one. An icon once, a legend forever.