Ford Maverick (North America)
|Early Maverick Grabber|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Predecessor||Ford Falcon (North American)|
|Engine(s)||170 cu in (2.8 L) Thriftpower Six|
200 cu in (3.3 L) Thriftpower Six
250 cu in (4.1 L) Thriftpower Six
302 cu in (4.9 L) V8
|Wheelbase||103 in (2616 mm)|
The Ford Maverick was compact car manufactured from April 1969-1977 in the USA, Canada, Mexico and from 1973 to 1979 in Brazil — employing a rear wheel drive platform dating to the original 1960 Falcon. Originally marketed as a 2-door sedan at an initial price of USD$1,995, the Maverick was designed to be inexpensive to manufacture and maintain.
The term Maverick derived from the name of unbranded range animal.
The Maverick's styling featured a long hood, fastback roof, and short deck on a 103-inch wheelbase — and featured simple and inexpensive to manufacture pop-out rear side windows rather than roll-down windows.
Internal and external resistance to a "Mustang replacement" meant that the Maverick would actually be replacing the Ford Falcon. The Falcon's sales had already been decimated by the introduction of the Mustang in 1964, and despite a redesign in 1966, the Falcon was left without a place in the Ford lineup. The Falcon was discontinued early in the 1970 model year after a few thousand units were produced as basically warmed over 1969 models, but the Falcon name was used on stripped down versions of the mid-sized Ford Torino during the second half of the 1970 model run.
Nearly 579,000 Mavericks were produced in its first year. This rivaled the record-setting first year of Mustang sales (nearly 619,000), and easily outpaced the Mustang's sales of less than 200,000 in 1970.
Trim packages and variants
The Maverick had several different models. Initially, only the standard coupe was available. Early models lacked a true glove box to save on costs, but the glove box was added in 1973. A four-door sedan on a 109-inch wheelbase was introduced in 1971 and was also well received despite lacking the distinctive fastback of the coupe, as it had significantly more room in the back seat and roll-down rear door windows. A rare station wagon version of the Maverick was introduced in Brazil in 1975, not as a regular option, but at a local dealer who made it from the four-door sedan.
Some of the exterior paint options had unusual names, such as Anti-Establish Mint, Hulla Blue, Original Cinnamon, Freudian Gilt, Thanks Vermillion, Black Jade, Champagne Gold, Gulfstream Aqua, Meadowlark Yellow, Brittany Blue, Lime Gold, Dresden Blue, Raven Black, Wimbledon White, and Candyapple Red.
In the first half of production for the 1970 model, there were only two available engine options, a 170 CID I6 and a 200 CID I6. A 250 CID I6 was added mid-year. Commercials compared it to the smaller Volkswagen Beetle for $1,995, even though the Ford Pinto would later be Ford's real subcompact entry.
The four-door model was introduced in 1971. Also available was a vinyl roof. Mercury also revived the Mercury Comet as a mechanical clone of the Maverick. A 210-horsepower 302 CID V8 was also introduced for both the Comet and the Maverick. The Comet featured a new grille, taillights borrowed from the Mercury Montego, trim, and hood.
The muscle car-themed Grabber trim package was introduced in mid-1970. The package included special graphics and trim, including a spoiler. It was offered from 1970-1975. In 1971 and 1972, the Grabber came with a special "Dual Dome" hood. A similar package for the Mercury Comet, the Comet GT, was also offered from 1971-1975 and had "muscle car" trim akin to the Maverick Grabber, plus its own distinctive hood scoop.
A Sprint package was offered in 1972. The Sprint had a special red, white, and blue paint job with a matching interior. Similar packages were offered on the Pinto and the Mustang. The one year trim package was said to have been a patriotic theme for the 1972 Olympics. U.S. versions were given a stylized U.S. flag made into a badge decal on the rear quarter panels. The badge was very much in the vein of Olympic symbols, but without being too close, to avoid stepping on copyrights. As an interesting side note, the Sprints sold in Canada were still red, white, and blue, but had a quarter badge styled from the Canadian flag!
A new "Luxury Decor Option" (LDO) trim level was introduced late in the 1972 model year that included reclining bucket seats in a soft vinyl material, plush carpeting, woodgrained instrument panel trim, radial tires with body-color deluxe wheel covers and a vinyl roof. The Maverick LDO option (also offered on the Mercury Comet) was one of the first American compacts to be marketed as a lower-priced (and domestic) alternative to the more expensive European luxury/touring sedans from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and other makes.
Minor changes were made from 1973-1975. In 1973, the 170 CID engine was dropped, making the 200 CID I6 the standard engine. Additionally, improved brakes and a previously optional chrome grille became standard. An AM/FM stereo, aluminum wheels and a new front bumper were added (the latter to comply with new federal regulations). In 1974, the Maverick was unchanged except for rear federal bumpers and larger trunk with a higher deck. Jumping gas prices and increasing demand for smaller cars resulting from the Arab Oil embargo did cause the Maverick to grow in popularity, selling 10,000 more units than the year before. Production of the Maverick and Comet dropped in 1975 with the release of the Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch as true Euro-style luxury compacts. The Maverick received minor trim changes for 1975 that included new grilles and the replacement of Maverick nameplates on the hood and trunklid with FORD nameplates spelled out in block letters.
In 1976 the Grabber was dropped, and a Stallion package was introduced. The Stallion option came with special paint and trim. Like the Sprint package four years earlier, Ford offered the Stallion option on several models, this time including the Pinto and the new Mustang II. The Comet GT was also discontinued. Standard Mavericks received another new grille and gained front disc brakes as standard equipment along with a new foot-operated parking brake that replaced the old under-dash T-handle unit. Production continued to drop.
1977 was the final year for both the Maverick and Comet. Both cars remained unchanged except for a police package on the Maverick which was not sufficiently upgraded for police work and sold less than 400 units. The Maverick was produced in Brazil until 1979. Maverick's place in the North American Ford lineup was essentially taken by the 1978 Fairmont.
The Maverick and Comet saw no significant changes towards the end of their lifespan since they were originally meant to be replaced in 1975 by the Granada and Monarch. However, Ford decided to keep selling both sets of cars until the 1978 model year introduction of the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr, which were built on an all-new "Fox" platform that would serve as the basic platform for many Ford/Mercury/Lincoln designs through the mid-1980s.
In Australia, the Falcon would continue to marketed, and evolved into an entirely distinct car which today is only slightly smaller, and has mentioned in the press as a possible source of a replacement for the full sized Ford Crown Victoria. In the United States, the Ford Taurus would be the mid-size follow-on to the Fairmont, a nameplate that is now on a full-sized car. The downsized compact market slot would go to the to the Escort-based Tempo. In Europe, the Maverick nameplate was re-used for the North American Escape SUV.
In Brazil, the Maverick was a monumental flop. First of all it was built over two different wheelbases: one for the two-door model and another for the four-door, it added to the cost. So, to save money, Ford Brazil somehow adapted the mechanics of the Aero-Willys (Willys): an old fashioned six-cylinder engine plus its extremely heavy steering wheel system. As at the time most parking spaces in that country were parallel, it was a torture to park the vehicle. Moreover, like any fastback its rear view was as poor as it could possibly be, so it was an instant no-buy for women. Later on Ford abandoned the four-door model and equipped the Maverick with a nice 2.3 litre OHC four cylinder engine and a smooth new steering system, but it was too late. Additionally, there was a V8 302 cu in sports model, but that engine outperformed the rest of the mechanics, forcing buyers to shop for expensive brake, suspension, cooling upgrades in order to fully and safely enjoy it. This V8 is very collectible today, carefully maintained by proud owners and selling for about US$ 20,000.
The Maverick inspired other fastback or semi-fastback compacts, most notably the Plymouth Duster which grafted a curvaceous rear to the front of the boxy Plymouth Valiant. The Plymouth Volaré/Dodge Aspen, Chevrolet Nova and even the AMC Hornet would also adopt fastback rooflines in the 1970s.
Despite being one of Ford Motor Company's most successful cars, the Maverick/Comet has not reached the popularity of the Mustang among muscle cars, and is still overlooked by most classic car enthusiasts. As they grow in age and rarity, the cars have been making a resurgence in popularity. The Maverick was produced in toy form as the Hot Wheels "Mighty Maverick" and a Mini Lindy model. In general, Maverick models and toys are few and far between, but in 2006, WalMart carried a new die cast line of small Fords including the Maverick (produced in 1/24 scale by MotorMax). Jo-Han models produced a promotional plastic model for Ford dealers for the wildly popular 1970-1972 model years, providing the only true scale model of the unsung Ford nameplate.
- ""Ford to Increase Mustang Production to Meet Consumer Demand"". Archived from the original on 2008-1-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20080103014154/http://media.ford.com/newsroom/feature_display.cfm?release=20253.
- ""Advance Auto Parts Mustang history page"". Archived from the original on 2006-12-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20061206061646/http://www.advanceautoparts.com/english/youcan/html/res/res20031001m2.html.