Illustration for article titled Mazda Once Built Ford A Turbo Rally Car

I have a particular soft spot for the Mazda 323 GTX — it was a WRX before there was a WRX, a little late '80s turbo homologation special that did reasonably well in Group A rally. I have an even softer spot for the completely pointless Ford version.

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This is the Ford Laser TX3 Turbo 4WD.

Illustration for article titled Mazda Once Built Ford A Turbo Rally Car
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Let me start by saying that back in the '70s Ford bought a good bit of Mazda, and their ties grew closer through the 1980s and into the 1990s, before things started to temper and eventually split apart a few years ago.

The partnership meant that Ford got Mazda know how and Mazda got production capacity building cars with Ford badges slapped on 'em. Mazda flirted with bankruptcy a few times during this whole period, so the partnership is sort of understandable.

The whole deal produced some interesting vehicles, like the Mazda B2000 that was a Ford Courier, the Mazda Tribute that was a Ford Escape, and the Ford Probe that was supposed to be the Mustang but was really just a Mazda MX-6.

The Laser was an Australian-market version of Mazda's bread-and-butter 323. I'm not sure why they bothered to sell a rebadged version of the 323 in Australia. The Mazda3 is currently the country's best-selling car, and I'm not sure how much good a Ford badge helped anyone.

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Illustration for article titled Mazda Once Built Ford A Turbo Rally Car

In any case, the Laser was the 323, with slightly different body panels. We got it as the Mercury Tracer here in the US. When Mazda made a 323 GTX (pictured above in the '88 RAC Rally), they also made a Laser version. It was called the TX3 Turbo 4WD. Not exactly imaginative, but still cool.

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Needless to say, I desperately want one.

Photo Credits: Decypher (Laser topshot), Ford of Australia via FordLaser.com (scrunched brochure image) Getty (rally pic)

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