By on March 29, 2012

The Maverick (and its Mercury sibling, the Comet) was once one of the most numerous cars on American roads. From a period extending from 1970 through about the middle 1980s, the Maverick was everywhere, much as the Taurus is today. It was a cheap, simple machine, based on the same outdated but sturdy and well-understood-by-mechanics chassis design that Ford used beneath Falcons, Mustangs, Granadas, you name it, going back to the early 1960s. The Maverick is just about extinct now, other than a few kept alive by collectors; these days, I might see one every year or so at self-service junkyards. That makes this one (spotted at a yard in Northern California last week) a special Junkyard Find.
When I was a kid, it seemed like everybody’s mom had a Maverick (mine, however, had a Fiat 128). When I became old enough to drive, many of my peers got Mavericks as hand-me-downs from Mom. In the early 1980s, it was hard to get less cool than a Maverick; even the wretched Dodge Colt was considered a (slight) step up.
You could get the Maverick with a V8 from the factory, but nearly all of them got 200- or 250-cubic-inch sixes. Of course, it was no problem to bolt in a 302 or 351W, and most suspension goodies meant for (non-Pinto-based) Mustangs would fit the Maverick. Back in the day, a teenager who doubled the horsepower and maybe added some Centerline wheels to Mom’s ex-Maverick would gain back much of the coolness points lost by not getting a Trans Am at age 16.
I assume some big lawsuit against Ford was the reason behind these ugly dash stickers that you see on most early-to-mid-1970s Ford and Mercury cars. Or was this something that the rental-car companies slapped on their cars back then?
This car was underpowered and handled like a cement mixer, but it was affordable, got better mileage than an LTD, and ran most of the time. What else could you ask for during the dark Malaise days of 1975?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

61 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1975 Ford Maverick...”

  • avatar

    In 1982 I was a five year old tyke growing up in rural western Massachusetts. At the time I attended kindergarten in the morning, and then rode the bus to nursery school in the afternoon. The bus dropped me off at the school’s unpaved driveway, leaving me with a half-mile-long walk the rest of the way to the school. Once I realized the dirt road was neighbored by a frightening hornet’s nest, I endeavored to hitch a ride one day.

    Upon seeing me being dropped off by a complete stranger, the teacher rushed to me in a frenzy. “Omigod! Who was that person that drove you here today?!?!?”

    “I dunno,” I said plaintively, lumbering over to the pile of Legos. “They drove a blue Ford Maverick.”

  • avatar

    And we complain about hard plastic interior bits now!

    My best friend’s parents had one of these back in the mid 80s (while my mom hung on to her 1976 Mercury Montego)…I drove it once and thought I was going to die from the absolute lack of stopping power! But the thing just would. not. die.

  • avatar

    I have lost track of the years now but my parents drove a maverick grabber. It had a racing stripe, a 302 (maybe a 289, I dunno) and was a pretty cool car for a young guy but they were both in their eighties. It just ran and ran and ran. Took my nephew to kill it after Dad died and all he could kill was a gear in the transmission. Seems other available trannies didn’t fit. Don’t know why but Ford was famous for that.

    Altogether funny to see those two old folks tooling along at the speed limit in their semi race car. Sort of like my wife and I today. Not fast but a Nissan cube and people frequently laugh when they see us in our kid car.

  • avatar

    “When I was a kid, it seemed like everybody’s mom had a Maverick (mine, however, had a Fiat 128).”

    This explains so much about Murilee – bless her and the Fiat.

    Always had a soft spot for Mavericks, such nice lines and proportions – on the pre-5mph bumper models, at least. Seems a waste to let this one go, but that’s why I have a self-imposed no junkyard rule.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I saw one of these things parked at the grocery store last year. Comparing it to the random ’90s and ’00s cars parked beside it was a stark reminder of how Detroit simply stopped caring in the ’70s. It also reminded me to thank the Japanese for averting the domestics’ final descent into Ayn Randian decrepitude.

    • 0 avatar

      Forgive the quibble, but “Ayn Randian decrepitude” doesn’t really make logical sense. Her protagonists’ plight comes from their single minded pursuit of excellence – not really a description of a Ford Motor Company that attempted to sell the Mustang II.

    • 0 avatar

      i always thought that mavericks looked alot better/cooler than the mustang or camaro

  • avatar

    This is one impressive Maverick. It appears to have the interior and exterior decor groups in addition to AC, Auto,and the optional bumper protection package. Such luxury!

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      It’s definitely one of the nicer ones. My family owned two, a 1973 similar in equipment to this one (but with a V8!)which was purchased new by my parents, and a 1974 we bought in the early eighties that was a former Texaco company car. That second one was a plain-jane POS, white with disgusting guacamole green vinyl interior. Didn’t even have a cigarette lighter, that’s how spartan it was. I liked the first one that we owned, but absolutely despised the second one.

    • 0 avatar
      CA Guy

      I bought a new 1972 Maverick two-door with the LDO option, introduced at the end of that model year. It was Medium Yellow Gold with a brown vinyl roof and matching side and bumper guard trim. The beige upgraded vinyl bucket seat and deep pile carpeted interior – matching the car here – was very attractive and comfortable. The car was loaded for the time; in addition to the LDO option for $421, it had the 302 V8, Cruise-O-Matic, power steering, Selectaire, AM radio and tinted glass, for a total of $1148.43 worth of options and a bottom line of $3495.43 (I still have the original window sticker). Virtually all of the LDOs I saw at dealers were so equipped.

      The LDOs were special cars, very much not the simple machines the original Mavericks were meant to be. They were among the first with steel-belted radial tires, and the level of sound insulation made them as quiet as a luxury model. My family had a 1970 base model Maverick with the 200 six, Cruise-O-Matic, and radio and the two cars could not have been more different.

      The biggest negative of my car was the cooling system, which was inadequate for the 302 plus A/C. Not only was the radiator too small, a poorly placed bypass hose caught direct engine heat and frequently failed. The protruding color-keyed wheel covers also posed a problem as they were easily damaged by automatic carwash rails and required valve stem extensions that stuck out so far they could snap off when parking at curbs, damaging the valve stems. You quickly learned to be careful. The upper control arm bushings on the front suspension also were problematic in that they frequently needed lubrication or would squawk loudly. Nevertheless, overall the Maverick LDO was an attractive and reliable car that I drove for almost eight years until it was stolen.

  • avatar

    After the Model T, I believe that the Falcon platform produced Ford’s best ROI. Falcon morphed into the Comet, Mustang, Maverick, Granada and was stretched slightly to become the Fairlane. The Falcon was built with its original 1960 body style By Ford South America until 1995.

    As for the Maverick, it was popular because it was cheap, fairly reliable…compared to the other crap Detroit was peddling at the time…….and was easy/cheap to keep running. I remember when some college acquaintances set off on a cross country trip in the mid 80’s driving a beat to hell Maverick and a slightly less beat to hell Japanese car. The Japanese car broke down about a third of the way in, and was abandoned. They all piled into the Maverick, with their crap strapped to the roof Grapes of Wrath style, and actually made to the left coast.

    ETA: The warning sticker was the result of a lawsuit, my father was sent the same sticker that was to be attached to his Granada….dad promptly pitched the sticker in the trash.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know – Ford got a lot out of the Fox chassis as well.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe that the lawsuit happened because 1960’s and 1970’s Ford automatic transmissions had a propensity to shift themselves from Park to Reverse. If you’ve ever seen a YouTube video of an old Torino or T-bird running backwards in circles in a parking lot you’ve seen one of the likely results. Another result of this happened to more than one good ole boy on the way home from the tav after closing time. He’d stop out in the country somewhere to take a leak, standing behind the open driver’s door with the motor running and the tranny in Park. The LTD’s or F150’s Fordomatic would shift itself into Reverse, the guy would get knocked down by the door and run over by the left front wheel.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, yes. My brother was a new driver when he crashed through the wall in my mother’s Mercury, and practically took out my sister. The car was fine, and I got a new bedroom when the garage was converted. Another time, it was parked on a slight decline and started rolling toward a ravine. My brother ran after the car, jumped in, and stopped it about 10 feet from the edge. My mother was so mad. “It’s just a car!”

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        From the late 70’s to mid-80’s I owned a 70 Mustang coupe w/ the 302 and C4 Auto. Around 1980 Ford sent me as well as millions of others that sticker which I promptly stuck up on the visor since I thought it would look goofy on the dash. But I did heed the sticker and channel my inner Nader even before they sent it to me. In all the years I owned that car I always used the parking brake when parking especially on my parents hilly driveway. The lawsuit happened because 1960′s and 1970′s Ford automatic transmissions i.e. C4,C6, FMX had a propensity to shift themselves not so much from Park to Reverse but because the parking pawl within the transmission was weakly designed and able to jump out of park and into any gear.

  • avatar

    Love the shot of the heater controls. They are very close to what Ford did with the Fairmont’s heater controls as well, both vertically mounted, the heater fan blower switch was the top left, the one for the rear window blower (defroster) which was mounted in the center of the rear parcel shelf had the lower left position if I recall right.

    The entire dash of the Fairmont was of a flimsy plastic, the top of a foam like plastic that dried out and cracked over time and was essentially brittle by the late 80’s, early 90’s and that WAS in Puget Sound too.

    Nice find there Muralee.

    My Mom had a 72 Gold Duster and a 76 Chevy Vega, both bought used in the late 70’s and Mom drove that Vega from 78-83 or so.

  • avatar

    The warning sticker about putting the transmission in park was (you guessed it) the result of litigation. Google “ford park-to-reverse.”

    If you’re around my age, it wasn’t uncommon to see a Ford product on the local evening news, spinning around in reverse circles because the driver left the car running, presumably in park, but the selector had either slipped into reverse or never made it into park.

    My parents received two of these in the mail, and refused to uglify the interiors by installing them. :)

    Maybe it was only the rental agencies that actually followed through with installing the stickers, hence the correlation between the two.

    • 0 avatar

      Hmmm. I don’t remember the “park-to-reverse” lawsuits, but I did have a C4-equipped ’69 Fairlane that had the problem (I always put it in neutral if I had to leave it idling), and I just assumed mine was the only car that did that. I have several photos of the warning stickers, so I might need to do a post on the subject.

    • 0 avatar

      I forgot about them running around backwards in reverse. Your post reminds me of an America’s funniest home videos episode from a few years back. There was a late 70’s LTD running in circles in reverse in the middle of an intersection in a residential neighborhood. It was doing this for what seemed like 10-15 minutes with a bunch of people watching, and some yahoo tries to shoot it with a shotgun!
      After awhile it either ran out of gas or just stalled, it was hysterical to watch. It’s also on youtube but I can’t find it.

    • 0 avatar

      A family friend of ours started up her (I think)Lincoln Town Car, remembered that she had left something in the house, and sure as hell, the trans dropped into reverse when she slammed the door. It knocked her down, ran over her leg with the back tire, and the front tire hit her in the pelvic area, stopping the car. She was screaming for help for about 10 minutes until her husband, who slept like he was in a coma, heard her and woke up. She was angrier at him than she was about getting hurt. Her pelvis healed up pretty quickly, but her leg was all torn up and took two surgeries and a long period of healing before she was back to normal. I don’t know how much she got from Ford, but there was suddenly a lot of overseas trips and cruises.

  • avatar

    My parents each had a Maverick coupe: my dad had a ’71 in something like orange and my mom had a ’73 in tan (two colors that you just don’t see on modern cars). both had 3-on-the-tree and I can’t remember them ever not running or going in the shop. in 1983 my mother and I were broadsided by a van that ran a red light and totaled her Maverick (my dad was in a ’78 Fairmont by this time), so primarily because of that I never learned to drive a standard. For my high school car about a year later, that ’73 engine went into a ’71 Maverick sedan body. In those days even with that car, I didn’t have the crappiest ride in the school. But I did have, for example, a couple buddies whose mom worked for a Dodge/Chrysler dealership, so one had a new Laser and one had a new Daytona at 16 and 17.

  • avatar

    I had a ’77 Maverick with a 302/C4. Didn’t handle too well due to the buggy suspension and the pig iron in the front. Plus it had that weird Ford power steering, with the ram cylinder hanging below the tie rods. I converted it to a 4BBL from the terrible 2BBL Motorcraft carb. I really liked it, nobody knew what it was.

  • avatar

    Had a friend who bought one of these as his first new car in 73 or 74. It was spartan but that was Ford’s selling point….supposedly it was to be ‘ the new Model T’. A big part of that pitch was that (supposedly) you could do all the maintence yourself with a couple of wrenches and a screwdriver. There were even as I recall Ford-published do-it-yourself manuals published. Think of it as sort of an American VW Beetle (was Ford’s angle). Crudeness as a virtue if you will.

    My friend was proud of his rationality in buying a simple car that would be cheap to own and maintain.

    I will simply say that no one in my family had owned a Ford since the steering of a newish 48 Ford came off in my grandfather’s hands and the Maverick was not a strong enough argument to change that.

  • avatar

    My friend had a Maverick and he liked it a lot as mechanically it was fine, but it did have a real rust problem. One day in ’77 or ’78 his early elementary age son, riding near the car, lost his balance on his bicycle and the handlebar hit the front driver fender on the top side (near the hood). It punctured the fender clear through as the rust (under the paint) was terminal. No problem though as my friend had a supply of duct tape for the easy fix.

  • avatar

    The last car my grandfather had was a green Maverick. I still don’t know why I didn’t inherit it. Wish I knew where it went.
    Interestingly, some guy who works across the street from where I work drives a four door Maverick to work every day. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.

  • avatar

    I still have the $1 1/25th scale model of a 1970 Maverick in Thanks Vermillion on my desk shelf here at work.

  • avatar

    My Mom and Dad bought a new dark green 75 4dr with a 302. They traded in a 73 Luxury LeMans 2dr hoping to get better gas mileage. This car was much worse than my 66 Comet with 289. The Maverick had non-power drum brakes just like my Comet, but they would barely stop the car. First day with the new Maverick, the AC fan made a terrible racket. The dealer took everything apart and found a paper coffee cup stuck in the blower wheel. Obviously was put there as it came down the assembly line.

  • avatar

    Last summer I was able to get photos of both a Maverick Grabber and a Comet GT, both with 302 V8s, at a couple of car shows. The Comet GT was in Grabber Blue. They were in a bit better shape than the ’75 that Murilee spotted.

  • avatar

    My Grand Father owned an early 70’s Maverick coupe with 200 6 which he always complained was under powered. Then he traded for a white 76 Granada coupe with 250 6 which wasn’t much better. After that came a 1980 Fairmont wagon which again had the 200 6 and again was under powered and never seemed to run really well along with the Granada and Maverick. After that grandpa took my advice and purchased a 1985 Olds Cutlass coupe with the terrific Olds 307 4BBL and loved that car and kept it until 1994 when he and grams went in the nursing home. He always said the driveability, throttle response and performance were light years better than any of the Ford products and gas mileage was similar to the low powered hesitating 6 cylinder engines in his Fords.

  • avatar

    If you bought a ford car with a C4 or FMX automatic trans between the late 1960s and late 1970s, you received one of these little stickers. The later transmissions received a redesign to the shift lever detent plate and IIRC improvements to the linkages, and the addition of a rooster comb to the outer manual lever.

    The ford OGC guy who came up with the sticker solution (saving money for ford by preventing a recall and likely agreed by opposing counsel because it would increase fees) must have still been on staff when the Bronco II caught flak for rolling over because, again, stickers, at least in part, were the “design remedy” exit from a class action lawsuit.

  • avatar

    My mother bought a new green 1975 Comet coupe. We kept it for 17 years.

    I remember hating the car for numerous reasons: the lack of air conditioning; the useless rear defroster that was a heated fan instead of wires; the brakes that doubled as a leg press machine; over boosted steering; the 77 dBA sound reading at 60 mph (our first quiet car, a 1991 Sable got 67 dBA); the inherently smooth inline I-6 that Ford engineered to buck and tumble; abysmal headlights where I could see maybe 1 second in front of me on the highway before over-driving them; the time the car stalled when there was a semi barreling up behind me; the breakneck 0-60mph in 17 seconds; and the design flaw in the automatic transmission stalk where it would just pop out of Park for no good reason, particularly if there was no sitting in the car while idling.

    It was also the same shade of green that Ford has rediscovered for their new Mustang; I learned to drive in that car; it cleared 17 imperial mpg when our V8 Grand Prix would be lucky to break 12 mpg; it had an attractive fastback style that reminded me of an Aston Martin V8 or Mustang; and it was my first car.

    I miss that piece of crap.

  • avatar

    My dad special-ordered a 4-door powder blue 74 Maverick with a 302 V8 right after the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, which made gas prices soar. He didn’t enjoy the 12 mpg it got, but for the time it was very fast.

    It was one of the first cars I drove; its 3-speed C4 automatic would shift at 50 and 75 mph. The V8 was a maintenance nightmare, with no service room under the hood.

    The car lasted 18 years before it succumbed to the salt of western PA. I was a little sad to see it go.

  • avatar

    My mom had a Red over Black ’71 Maverick with the optional 6 cylinder. I drove the car quite often my senior year in high school and whenever I would visit my parents home during my college years. While certainly not a sports car the Maverick was well balanced with about equal amounts propulsion, handling and brakes. It really could hustle on backroads and I can remember several fast rides in Western Massachusetts / Southern Vermont that were great fun. Dad always put studded snow tires on it for her which made the Maverick a good snow car. Mom had the car until 1980. As others have said it was very dependable and never required anything more than normal (oil, filters, wipers, tires, brakes and etc) maintenance. An honest, reliable car… now that in and of itself is something!

  • avatar

    That steering wheel and column are the same as in my ’77 Granada, even the color. Both the Granada and my ’71 Cougar would roll when in “park.”

    I checked out the Cougar and found that with the gate removed, you could definitely feel a detent when pushing the lever into park. But with the gate installed, it stopped a good third of an inch short of actually going into park. I ground metal off the gate and solved the problem.

    Weirdly, the Granada was column shift but I never checked it out because I really didn’t care if it rolled away.

    I rode in a new 4 cyl Fairmont when it was brand new (lawyer’s car.) We never got out of heavy traffic, but I was amazed at the off-the-line torque. With light pedal pressure, it would sock you into the seat!

  • avatar
    beach cruiser

    While in college I briefly dated a girl that had a strippo 1970 Maverick in a real ugly shade of green. It had a small six, three on the tree and no a/c or power accessories of any kind. She told me that her parents had paid $1900 for it brand new in 1970. Could that be true? Anyway, it was a handful to drive. It reminded me of my father’s 1961 dodge power wagon in many ways.

    • 0 avatar

      According to this site she is only slightly off. The list price for the base stripper was $1995. However, she’s only off if her dad actually paid sticker.

      FWIW according an inflation calculator I found “What cost $1995 in 1970 would cost $11074.92 in 2010.”

      For comparison purposes a 1970 Corvette Coupe was $5,192 and the inflation calculator says”What cost $5192 in 1970 would cost $28822.56 in 2010. ”

      Also for comparison purposes, the cheapest American-market car today is a Nissan Versa for $11,750 and “What cost $11750 in 2010 would cost $2116.61 in 1970. ”

      • 0 avatar

        A friend’s mom, who always was stuck with strippers, had a blue Maverick, with, a luxury for her, an AM radio and A/C. Of course, it got wrecked when hit in a parking lot by a drunk, and it’s replacement was a sickly green Comet, with no options at all. I think the heater had to be be installed by the dealer. Three speed on the tree, as usual. My mom would just shake her head and everytime she saw my friend’s dad, she would give him crap about “Poor Ann’s cheap ass car!”. He was the only one surprised when she left him a few years later, after 30+ years of being married to a tightwad, she had enough. She drove that car until well into the 80’s.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Now if you could only find a Fairmont to report on.

  • avatar

    The Maverick is a big reason why the Plymouth Duster was so successful in the early 1970s. For just a smidgen more cash, you got a car that was larger, roomier (Dusters had enormous trunks), better handling, better equipped (temp and ammeter gauges along with a glovebox), optional front disc brakes from the start (Maverick didn’t get discs at all until 1975), and equipped with Mopar’s unbreakable drivetrains. Chrysler made a lot of hay comparing the “real car” Duster to the downmarket-runt Maverick. Now the Duster was admittedly crude and unrefined in many ways with poor fit-and-finish (I owned one for six years), plus they rusted with a vengeance, but it was still better than the Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t forget about the A body’s superior unibody compared to the crappy spring tower design of the maverick. And the A body didn’t rust nearly as bad as a maverick. Millions of A bodies are still around, go to a mopar show like Carlisle and you will see row after row of them. There are also lots of them listed for sale in Hemmings. You’re lucky to see one maverick/comet even at a ford show.

      • 0 avatar

        No-one bothered to preserve the Mavericks in the 1980s and 1990s since, unlike the Duster, they had no “performance car” or coolness reputation at all. That’s a big reason why there are so few survivors today. Also, as I said, the Mopar drivetrains just couldn’t be killed. As for rust, sorry, but the A-bodies were terrible rusters even by the standards of the time – rustproofing is one area where Chrysler was truly deficient and it afflicted most of their cars. My own ’75 Duster was crumbling away by the early 1980s, and I know of too many others that were afflicted by the tinworm. All it took for mine was a couple of years on the Florida coast – never a speck of road salt, either.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s true that that they built alot of the performance 340 and 360 A bodies, and there are alot of those around. But there are also slews of surviving slant 6 and 318 cars. A bodies were as good as the best made back then as far as rustproofing went. The only weak spot in that department was the front fenders, which still weren’t nearly as bad as on the maverick.
        It was well known that fords were the worst rusters back then, especially their smaller cars, which rusted about as badly as the japanese cars.
        Ford even got publicity over it in late 75. I remember reading an article about it in Motor trend. They said that ford fell to no.3 position in sales in Canada because they rusted quicker than their GM-Chrysler counterparts. Shortly afterward they came out with TV commercials stating that “the 76 model Ford cars are the most corrosion resistant cars Ford has ever built.”
        I live in Ohio, and I remember seeing 2 year old mavericks with severe rust starting on them. My sister’s friend bought a new 71, and by 75 it had large holes all over the body, just like many other mavericks.

  • avatar

    Those dash stickers were sent to owners of ford vehicles by the factory around 1979-80 when fords started making headlines for jumping out of park and running people over. A number of cars that were left running would slip into reverse when the driver shut the door, like if someone wanted to warm up their car, or if they went inside for a minute and wanted to leave it running to keep the heater going.
    I was at a gas station in the late 80’s and a woman pulled up to a pump in a Lincoln Mark V, when she got out and shut the door it took off backwards with her baby in the car seat, went across a busy street but luckily there was no traffic at the time. It want over the curb and between a tree and a bulding, with only a few inches to spare, it was like the car steered itself to miss them.
    We chased it and luckily it didn’t go far, got stuck in mud and there wasn’t a scratch on it and more importantly the infant was fine.
    What happened was the detent inside the steering coulumn would wear, mainly on cars in which the owner didn’t pull back all the way when putting the car into or out of park. The edge of the detent would round off, and shutting the door would jar the shifter causing it to go into reverse.

  • avatar

    That brings back some memories. In the early 80s I worked as a mechanic at a Rent A Wreck franchise(times were tough in BC at the time). We had quite a few Maverick/Comets, normally 4 door 6 cyl models. They were popular with customers, hard to break and easy to fix. We were always on the lookout for good ones to add to the fleet. When you’re in business to rent cars to “downmarket” clientele you don’t want anything fragile or fast, and these cars filled the bill.
    I particularly remember an orange 4 door that I had to drive 50 or 60 miles at night in the winter. It was full of bullet holes and had a couple of windows missing. Apparently the couple we rented it to were married, just not to each other. It all came to grief in the parking lot of a cheap small town motel and our Maverick suffered the consequences. A couple of junkyard door glass panels, some fiberglass and a bit of spray paint later and the “Bonnie and Clyde special” was back at work. Tough cars. Dull, but tough.

  • avatar

    I really hated these back in the 70s, but a couple years ago there was a Maverick in my neighborhood that had all the chrome badges and bling removed and was painted a kind of dark turquoise. Looked amazingly good. Didn’t have 5 mph bumpers either, which helped.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    A friend’s parents had two 1975 Mavericks , both the same copper color/tan interior ,both four door sedans ,one with the interior decor option , the other with some odd factory mag wheels I don’t remember seeing on another four door . I drove one of them and remember the bumptious handling and the numb power steering that the car magazines of the time always complained about . And with a full load of passengers I remember the suspension bottoming out .The back seat seemed lumpy , thinly padded and uncomfortable . I remember riding in a number of the earlier models , typically the coupes with a three- speed stick and gaudy odd plaid interiors . One time drove a friend’s 70 model to Austin . It had the stick and a bad radiator that had to be refilled three times in 150 miles .As I recall the guy had bought it for $200 in the late seventies .

  • avatar

    Be still my beating heart. I picked up a 76 with the express purpose of creating a street racer. Something with more power than my Hornet. (Yeah, I have a genetic aversion to cool cars.) It had the mighty Three-OH-Two!! I quickly learned not all V8s are the same. Fortunately I found a mechanic who felt pollution controls were an insult to his manhood. He helped guide me through the list of “unnecessary” items Ford had installed. With some basic mods those malaise cars can get up and move.
    Alas, one night I parked her on the beach, and the tide came in. (Alcohol and/or Cannabis products may have been involved.) The final reminder of my beloved Maverick was. $80 towing fee and a $200 fine from St. John’s County.

  • avatar

    I definitely don’t view this old car through rose-colored glasses. That’s because, once upon a time, I had the misfortune of driving one fairly regularly. My mom owned a 2 door, straight-6-powered 1970 Mavwreck from the mid 70s thru early 80s. On bad days, when I didn’t get to drive my dad’s V-8 powered Chevelle to high school, I had to borrow the Ford.

    The Maverick didn’t have much going for it, apart from: a) a strong tendency to keep running once you got it started; b) the 2-door was pretty attractively styled; and c) a Neanderthal could probably have done most of the troubleshooting & repairs.

    That thing drove like a piece of farm equipment- the roadholding was crappy (especially on bumpy curves), and the front-rear braking balance was awful, even by the standards of the Malaise Era. In the rain, the drum brakes would lose around 90% of their stopping capability, and I’d have to ride the brake pedal through any decent-sized puddle.

    My only positive memory of the Ford Maverick involves a long-ago encounter with an attractive lady friend in the back seat of said Dearborn product.

  • avatar

    I always wanted to stuff a 351 Cleveland and a 4 speed into one of these. Sadly they are all gone, time was you could find a V8 version for a few hundred dollars.

    This car was light, good aerodynamics, rear wheel drive and room for bigger engines. Handling sucked and ventilation was terrible. I wrenched on a 302 version that was hopped up and it would clear 100 MPH without breaking a sweat. I helped my buddy replace the rear axle for 3.25 gears, ditching the 2.73 dump truck fast gears it came with.
    These and the Comets are my favorite 70’s car.

    • 0 avatar

      The V8’s were a very tight fit in these cars due to the huge shock/spring towers. The 289/302 wasn’t too bad, but if you swapped in a 351W or C it was a pain changing plugs. Big blocks wouldn’t fit without serious mods to the spring towers.

  • avatar

    My friend drove a 71 Maverick which was a family hand me down. Grabber green, 200 cube six, slender pre-crash standard bumpers that were really a step above a decal in terms of protection. Rock solid reliability, it was the last American car in their family that they liked (followed by a Granada and a Citation which resulted in Japanese only need apply). The older brother had “Mavaroti” plates. My buddy put a Nakamichi TD-1200 in the dash, thereby increasing the value of the car by a factor of four. We had a lot of fun in that car. He shed some tears when he sold the family friend…

  • avatar

    Following the humiliation of being seen driving my first car, a full-sized late 60s Chevy station wagon that was handed down to me by my parents, my second car was a 1975 Mercury Comet GT that I drove through my college years. It had the 302 V-8, the SelectShift 3-speed automatic with floor shifter, the numb power steering and non-power front disc brakes that seemed to work surprisingly well.

    My Comet GT featured a huge decorative, non-functional, and extremely un-aerodynamic hood scoop that I found embarrassing, along with racing stripes along both sides of the car, blacked-out rear panel trim and the area of the hood just in front of the hood scoop was painted matte black. My car also featured factory aluminum wheels that looked quite nice.

    The build quality was good. Better than my old late 60s Chevy station wagon.

    In the dark days of the 55 mph speed limit I could sometimes get in the mid-20s for highway gas mileage, but usually it was around 23 mpg highway. In town it could go as low as 12 mpg, but was usually around 15. In mixed driving it averaged around 18.

    It was a piggish-handling nose-heavy car that wanted to swing its tail around when I tried to go fast in the twisties. I had to replace the upper control arm bushings that wore out prematurely due to all the weight on the front suspension. I never had that problem with any other car and never heard of anyone else having it either.

    As I recall the 302 V-8 put out 140 horsepower in these years and 0 to 60 was around 10 seconds which was good for the time. The engine seemed to have a lot of torque. One time, as a foolish youth, I floored it on a wide-open stretch of empty Interstate. The needle on the speedometer went up to 105 and then wouldn’t go any further. That was it, top speed according to the factory speedometer.

    The interior of my car was black, but otherwise identical to the one in the pictures. One frigid winter morning when the temperature was something like 20 below zero, I sat down on the freezing vinyl driver’s bucket seat and the vinyl cracked. When it was below zero the car would absolutely not start. The recliner on the driver’s seat broke and I had it welded to repair it, but then it would no longer recline.

    The enormous bumpers worked very well. I recall one time during winter when I was following a Datsun 310 on a city street going up hill. It came to a stop sign and after stopping, for some reason it lost traction and started sliding backwards until it hit my Comet. Although it could not have been going more than 3 or 4 mph tops, the rear bumper of the Datsun was all pushed in while my Comet was undamaged.

    In the mid-80s, after I graduated and got my first job, I was driving to work in a neighboring town when, after driving over an overpass, I pushed on the accelerator to maintain my speed and nothing happened. I coasted to a stop in front of a junk… an automotive recycling center. It was a sign.

    With only 165,000 miles on the odometer, the engine had thrown a rod. I sold it for a couple of hundred dollars to a kid who dropped in souped-up Mustang small block, repainted it and put on some new wheels. I would often see the car around town.

    Anyway, I went and bought a new CRX which I owned for almost 20 years and 205,000 miles before I traded it for a newer Honda. I often think about my CRX and how fun it was to drive and how it handled. I miss it and sort of regret trading it. I think about buying a used one just for fun. I don’t think about my old Mercury Comet very much.

  • avatar

    The key to these cars was to get all the options-My parents bought a ’72 Comet 4door with the LDO package, 302-V8, AC, Power Steering etc.
    The LDO package was very comprehensive in the early years, including functional items like softer bushings for a better ride, more sound insulation, even an extra coat of paint. Plus, it included radial tires, in our case, BF Goodrich ER70-14 RS’s, which had the same tread pattern as the later first gen TAs.. I always was amazed that a 4 door Comet would come with 70 series tires from the factory.
    Anyway, I recall it was not terrible, with the exception of the non-assisted drum brakes (no discs until 1974). It was quite peppy to 60, although it couldn’t lay rubber. Top speed was was exactly 100 mph indicated, and it was quite comfortable to ride in.

  • avatar

    My grandparents replaced a ’61 Ford Falcon with one of these in 1970 or 1971. My biggest impression of the car was that it was the worst handling car in snow (with snow tires) I have ever driven. As others have said, though, it was pretty bulletproof.

  • avatar

    Ah yes, hand me down Mavericks. I know about those. A ’70 with a shelf instead of a glovebox and the radio hung onto the bottom of the dash (which did make swapping in some aftermarket sound easier). For some reason the wheezy six would not consistently idle properly no matter what we did with it. So, I developed the habit of dropping it into neutral at traffic lights to keep it from stalling, and popping it back into drive with the revs up a bit. Yep, that was not good for the long term health of the trans.

  • avatar

    I had a 73 Maverick with the same color paint and interior, but mine had the 302 with the automatic. Bought it in 76 and by 1979….most of the lower half had rusted away.

    Sounds kinda dumb, but it is my favorite of all the cars I’ve owned in the past 40 years.

  • avatar

    Grandma had a 1970 2-door with the 302, automatic, AM radio and bucket seats. I don’t think the car had any other options. I’m not sure how she came to buy this particular car. I imagine it was not a popular combination of big engine/no options so the dealership probably discounted it. I’m pretty sure it was Grabber Blue, but it wasn’t the Grabber model (no stripes or rear spoiler).

    Her puttering around town with the 302 caused rough running due to carbon build up in the engine. Dad would take it out on the highway periodically to open it up and “blow the cobs out”. It was definitely peppy for the day, but the noisy front suspension was annoying. It was essentially rust free until it was 10+ years old, which was rare for a 70s car.

  • avatar

    i recently accuired a 1975 maverick 6cy with air option car copper and tan ugliest colors ever it had been sitting in a barn since 1988 i got it on a trade needless to say it runs and drives with only 63,000 orig miles however it does have the typical rust spots inner rear fenders ate and lower front but other then that she is a unique car.

  • avatar

    I loved my Maverick….
    My mom got it brand new. Fire engine red black pin stripe
    black bench seat two door. LOVED IT TO DEATH
    I don’t know what engine it had what specs all I know that my car got me to were I need to be. My mom hated it think it was just to big for a 4’11” person. She complained cause it wouldn’t start for her when it rained. Never had an issue with it until one day when the tie rod broke going around one of the many circles we had in NJ. My dad had it fixed after a neighbor yelled at him telling him it need it be done a while back. Simple job had the car back the same day. My dad a bout a year later gave me my moms dodge colt. Was it a trade up maybe but I truly miss my Maverick.
    Reason for the trade my dad was not very handy and couldn’t do minor up keep thought just giving me my moms used car while she got a new one was just better. I hope from time to time I would see it still on the road.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: Stalin: “Wanna hear a joke?” Hitler: “Sure.” Stalin: “Moscow.” Hitler:...
  • mcs: I still favor subsidies for battery research over direct checks for vehicles. Improve the products and...
  • Master Baiter: While I’m not in favor of EV subsidies in general, I never understood the logic of having the EV...
  • ToolGuy: Found out last night that my Chromebook is Scheduled to Die* six months from now. I find this ironic, since...
  • dal20402: The comments here read like a bunch of retired mid-level managers hitting the Jack very hard indeed. But...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber