By on September 10, 2014

11 - 19773 Ford Maverick Sedan- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was once a time when Mavericks (and their Mercury Comet siblings) were among the most often-seen vehicles on American streets. Being such a cheap and homely car (and built during one of Detroit’s build-quality low points), however, the Maverick just wasn’t loved enough for many examples to be spared from The Crusher when they got a little frayed around the edges. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’75 Maverick two-door, this ’75 Comet sedan, and now today’s ’73 Maverick four-door.
07 - 19773 Ford Maverick Sedan- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI shot this car in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard, and thus it has little (if any) rust. It shows signs of having spent decades outdoors, so there’s plenty of vegetation stuck to the body and everything is well-bleached by the sun.
03 - 19773 Ford Maverick Sedan- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo air conditioning, but there is a rear defogger.
12 - 19773 Ford Maverick Sedan- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeone grabbed the engine, which probably now lives in someone’s work truck.
06 - 19773 Ford Maverick Sedan- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe vintage of the cassette tapes inside indicates that this car was parked for good in the middle 1980s.
16 - 19773 Ford Maverick Sedan- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinToo bad nobody made a drag racer out of this car.

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63 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1973 Ford Maverick Sedan...”

  • avatar

    I saw a Maverick in traffic just last week. It was a ’73 or later, had the same big bumpers as this one.

    What’s next, a Tempo?

    • 0 avatar

      ’73 Mavericks are relatively easy to pick out: They had the larger 5 MPH bumper on the front, while the rear still had the slim 0 MPH unit. For some bizarre reason, when energy-absorbing bumpers were mandated for the rear in ’74, Ford decided to make the front bumper even larger and more awkward-looking.

    • 0 avatar

      I saw a 2dr Mercury Topaz on the highway last week in Middle TN. Got a couple of pics of it but sadly nothing quality. The Topaz sighting is still second to me seeing a mid-1980s Hyundai 2DR Excel still on the road about 3 years ago north of Nashville, TN. My jaw dropped on that one…

      • 0 avatar

        There’s an almost pristine light blue Hyundai Excel c.86-87 that a little old man putt-putts around the sketchy neighborhood just a few blocks north of my house. The paint is a little dull and it has nary a hubcap, but as far as I can tell that’s about it. I see it a couple of times a week.

        • 0 avatar

          I saw a nearly-spotless dark green 78-80 Granada on the street in NW Portland last Thursday. As I approached it from the rear, my jaw hit the seat and I distinctly remember uttering, “No…way…”

          I might go see if it’s parked there again today.

      • 0 avatar

        Until a few years ago our family had as a beater a Mitsubishi Pricis which was a rebadged Hyundai Excel. First brake job was done at 120k miles. Gave it away at around 130k miles and it still had the original clutch and working ac! It just refused to die.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    One of the things I like the most about your “Junkyard Finds”, is when you find inside the vehicle a little personal object, which has been sitting in the vehicle probably for decades.

    Like those cassette tapes.

    Like a good urban archeologist, with a couple of objects like these, one can make deductions on the owners background and lifestyle.

    • 0 avatar

      Crabspirits is really good at that. I hope he does a writeup on this one.

    • 0 avatar

      I dig that also when I am at the pull-a-part places. Guess the owner’s background, lifestyle, and often ethnic heritage.

      Sadly some finds are worse than others. A more recent, crashed PT Cruiser’s floor was littered with syringe caps. I told my age 13, #1 son that the driver was probably diabetic (yeah right-more like oxy or her-oin diabetes.)

      (#1 son accompanied me to provide an extra hand and he is beyond the size of a 16 year old which is the minimum age to get into the yard.)

  • avatar

    I rented a Maverick for a couple of weeks in February, 1975. In mixed city and highway driving, it averaged 13.5 miles/gallon. Forty years later, my 330 hp, 150+ mph Infiniti G37S’s lifetime average is 23.6 mpg. What a difference in both performance and efficiency!

  • avatar

    My parents had one – either a 73 or 74 – white with a blue interior.
    Worst car ever.
    It would start, then stall. Then start again, then stall. It would finally run ok – only to stall several minutes later.
    It rusted so badly that 5 years later when my father went to trade it on a Fairmont the sales guy asked if it had been under water.

  • avatar

    I am having trouble understanding how ANYONE could ever find this car “attractive”. This AND the Granada. Blech!

    I bet the Mavy was a slug, too.

    • 0 avatar

      The original coke-bottle Maverick was, IMHO. Before the battering-ram bumpers and the adjusted tail-sag to comply with bumper height.

      The problem with the Maverick was that it was not organized with efficiency in mind; but of off-the-shelf parts which were old when Job 1 rolled out. Interior space utilization was on a level with the Beetle. The old Ford sixes were never economy champs; so much less so with primitive emissions controls. And then…the recycled crapsteel RUSTED.

      It was moderately clever when looked as a way to recycle the dated Falcon. As a value to the car buyer, it was a FAIL.

      If we want to understand why the Japanese companies basically own the American market…we need look no further than cars like the Maverick of years past.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      The Granada was treated like the second coming in 1974 – a 2/3rds size LTD. It had the looks down…too bad the chassis was a close relative of the 1960 Falcon.

      They sure sold a bunch of them back then…

      • 0 avatar

        Back then, brand loyalty was the rule. You were a Ford family, or a Chrysler man…and woe unto the prodigal son who went and bought one of “those” things, a Chevy or (gasp!) a Volkswagen!

        So when the Ford head huckster, Lido, took a rebodied Falcon, labeled it the Granada and pretended it was a new LTD…the Ford people accepted it.

        For the moment. Those Ford people were going to become Toyota people, very soon.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My dad ordered a 74 Maverick 4-door with the 302, A/C, and front disc brakes just as the ’73 oil crisis was unfolding. Powder blue exterior, blue vinyl seats.

    That car could really move, which is why he only mildly regretted getting the V8 when gas prices doubled. It got about 12 mpg city, 18 highway. It was one of the cars I learned to drive on.

    Living in western PA, it rusted like crazy, but he still kept it 15 years.

    Good memories for me.

    • 0 avatar

      Must be a lot faster than our 1975 Comet with the 250 cu.inch I-6, which I believe was 80hp and 190 lb.ft. I never got better than 0-60 in 17 seconds. And for a straight six, it felt worse than a modern 3 cylinder.

      I finally asked my mother this year why she bought the 2 door instead of the 4 door. Her answer was straight forward (and might even be true): there were no child-lock override switches back then.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Sajeev is gonna have a cow when he notices that Lincoln next to it.

    That color looked good on those Mark VII’s, IMHO.

  • avatar

    My father had a Mercury Comet GT coupe growing up. It was either a 1973 or 1974. I want to say ’74. It had the 302 engine that somehow made less horsepower than the ’92 Nissan 240SX that I owned.

    He once told me that if he knew I was going to discover cars like I did in my late teens, he would have kept the Comet for me. But he had sold it a couple years before I got my license. I have to admit, that is an interesting thought. Would I have grown up liking American cars instead? I would have not started out on my dad’s Honda. All I know for sure is if that had happened I would have spent a weekend or two removing the smog equipment. And a few weeks fixing the upholstery.

  • avatar

    Mercury Comet: Garbage. Rusting garbage. Should have come off the assembly line directly into the junk yard.
    My first Ford product, and my last Ford product.

    • 0 avatar

      The more I read about older cars the more I come to marvel that Ford has done so well. Their products always lacked engineering but their marketing was first rate. Sorta the Microsoft of car companies.

      And then there’s Chrysler, always better engineered, but alternating between sheer brilliance and WTF happened. And sometimes combining the two.

      • 0 avatar


        Lack of competition helped to a point. That point was when the big 3 got that competition.

        Plus the cars sold because people replaced them, with similar junk… until the competition arrived.

      • 0 avatar

        Why? One word, trucks.

        That is why Big 3 are still kicking. Toyota and Nissan never ‘took over’ full size truck market, and may never will.

  • avatar

    Who is zoomin’ who? I would like to know.

  • avatar

    They were stout vehicles before they rusted. A friend rolled one a few times and walked away with minor injuries.

  • avatar

    Maverick, aka 4th gen Falcon. It’s not hard to understand why so many were sold. The Maverick was not the worst car of the malaise era, and it was cheap….these cars, just like the Falcon, were designed to be disposable. Buy cheap, drive 4-5 years, off to the crusher. I’m astonished that any still exist.

    Oh, it’s a pity that Ford North America never developed a proper I6 like Ford of Oz did.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Yes, skor. That’s about right. I’d say they were certainly better than the Plymouth Duster or even the Chevy Nova cohorts. Just honest, workaday cars. Yeah, they didn’t last too long, but in those days people expected to get 50 to 75K out of a car. You would pay on the note three years, maybe get another year out of it and be done.

  • avatar

    I seem to recall prominent ads in the 70s for the Mav touting its low price $1995. Probably got $400 at the junkyard

  • avatar

    Such a depressing car.

    I have never liked these cars, and having a ridden in a few as child when they were relatively new, hated them then.

    I ran across one in the junkyard a while back and was still amazed at the sheer mediocrity of it, this makes a Dart seem like a luxury car, and a GM X-body downright fancy.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Yesterday afternoon, I saw yellow Maverick in traffic. And that immediately made me recall my childhood friend’s car — a kinda purple, and partially black Mercury Comet.

    Even in 1980, when we were in high school, the car already had terrible rust in the rockers and wheel wells.

    It cornered about as gracefully as a riding mower, but in a straight line, it was pretty decent with its wheezing 302 V8. I remember a summer night, both of us home from college, in the Comet with windows down as we drove across Wyoming to meet some girls at Frontier Days in Cheyenne. With the aid of the Comet’s dim yellow headlight glow, my job was to help spot mule deer and antelope in the ditches as my friend kept the speedo routinely buried all the way to the indicated 120 mph. Not that the Comet’s brakes would’ve slowed us in time to avoid hitting a crossing antelope at that speed. At least we could brace ourselves for impact.

    We arrived unscathed, unticketed. Hooked up with the co-eds from Laramie, ended up drinking lots of beer and not getting lucky even though we all crashed in the same seedy motel room.

    If I remember right, the cassette that got the most use on that trip was Styx, Paradise Theater. Murilee, if you find a purple Comet somewhere in a boneyard out west and it has a Styx tape in it, can you shoot a couple pictures for me and grab the tape? Thanks.

  • avatar

    I hated these back in the day, but a couple years ago we had a nicely repainted and de-badged Maverick that lived in our neighborhood. It actually looked pretty good.

  • avatar

    What’s funny is Maverick’s actually go for decent money now, at least the two doors. They’re like a Ford version of the Nova for hot rodders.

    I remember you couldn’t give these cars away even up until a few years ago.

    I actually think they look decent as two doors in the early years, but the 4 door pictured is incredibly ugly.

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t weight anything. Seriously surprisingly light.
      Google’ed to get the numbers, and the 70’s come in at 2500lbs, with the big bumpers ones at about 27-2800 (and easy to put on a diet to get back down to 2500).
      Plus its the Falcon/Mustang platform, lots should interchange.

      • 0 avatar

        Almost everything interchanges with the Falcon/Mustang…and with the Comet, first gen Cougar, Granada, Monarch, Versailles. etc….. I think Ford got the second biggest ROI from the original Falcon than any car platform in history after the original Beetle.

        I’m not surprised that people are starting to rebuild these things. The early Mustangs were first to get scarce, then the Falcons, so now wannabe stoplight drag heroes have moved on to the Maverick. It also doesn’t hurt that most of them were not even alive when these things infested the roadways back in the 1970s.

  • avatar

    From my Curbside Classic post, regarding Mavericks/Comets: 7/31/2014

    I hope Ford made a lot of money with these cars because for the life of me, I could never figure out why anyone would buy one. They were smaller than the Nova and the Valiant and even the Ford Falcon. They were slightly bigger than the Pinto, but the Pinto at least had a wagon version and a usable hatch, which the Maverick/Comet did not. The gas mileage wasn’t great and worse than the Pinto.

    It just seems like Ford decided to upgrade the old Falcon and make it appear sporty, but didn’t care that the car didn’t try to do anything new. The price of these cars started at under $2000 for a stripped version so perhaps Ford was trying to compete against the Beetle?

    Then there is the just plain bad interior. No glove box? Really? No interior room compared to the competition? Who was supposed to want this car when for a little more money, you could get a better car – and for the same money, you could get a better car in the same Ford showroom, as a Pinto? It wasn’t a Mustang. It wasn’t a Torino. What is it supposed to be?

    Reviews at that time repeat these same questions. The Maverick/Comet kept coming up smaller and weaker against the competition, even the competition within the Ford showroom.

    Yet, these cars kept selling.

    The only fix for this car was the four door and unlike the utilitarian and useful style found on the GM or Chrysler competition, Ford did a smaller version of the awkward styling found on the Torino four door. Were there really auto designers thinking the four door was a good design? Once again, auto journalists at that time kept noting that these cars weren’t as good as the competition.

    The Maverick/Comet could have been completely skipped in the Ford evolution of their compact car history. It is easy to see how Ford could have ended up with a Granada/Monarch on the same basic body as the Falcon. Both are formal sedans with simple mechanics designed to seat five. But then, what the heck happened in 1969 when they took the Falcon and put a Maverick/Comet body on it for six years?

    Weird. Only thing weirder was how many of these cars were sold. Really remarkable

    • 0 avatar

      The Maverick was a first answer to ‘cheap small cars’. VW Bug was stealing young buyers hand over fist, and Ford GM took notice, again.

      First year Mav’s were aimed square at Bugs. “Only $1995!”
      Lee I maybe wanted to hedge his bets with an I6 Maverick to get some older buyers who would never look at the Pintos.

      Adding the 4 door then moved them ‘upmarket’ for a short time til the Granada. Imagine if they didn’t keep the old body and applied Maverick on the Granada body! The last few years of Maverick were manly sold to elders.

  • avatar

    I take umbrage at the description of these being homely. The original 1970 coupe was a really good version of the coke bottle fuselage. In basic form, without all the chrome and plastic gee-gaws of the more expensive cars above it in the Ford hierarchy, the Maverick had a clean, minimalist look. Unfortunately, the 1972 models started the trend of adding more and more crap to the car, and then with the federally mandated 5 MPH bumpers tacked on starting in ’73, they just got uglier and uglier as the decade wore on.

    One of the attractions of the Maverick was the ability for owners to perform their own maintenance. Ford advertised it as such even to women, extolling the virtues of DIY easy and simple repairs.

    My dad brought home a strippo ’70 coupe for my mom in Sept or Oct of ’69, that he got directly from Ford’s Oakville assembly plant, actually beating a few dealers in our area! He was a tier one supplier sales/installation rep, and had a few friends in the biz. Ford and Chrysler being his two largest customers got him so fancy company cars during the 60’s and 70’s.

    But I digress – the Maverick was easy to fix, no worse on gas than any other Detroit compact, and was certainly more stylish than the Nova or Dart in 1970. That’s why it sold in huge numbers.

    They did rust, though. Hoo boy they rusted fast and furiously. Ours was done in a little less than 6 years. It was sold after my mom partially put her foot through the floor board trying to stomp on the brakes to avoid an accident. It had rotted through in several other places that were hidden by the carpeting or other internal bits.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree on the styling assessment. The original look, with strip-bumpers front and rear, was clean and well-proportioned. But never had the look of a car altered so much with so little change, as the Maverick (and Pinto) with the mandated push-plate bumpers.

      The added rear sag, needed to bring the height to government orders, didn’t help, either. These were cars designed to sit high in the rear; redesigning it to look like there was a load of grass clippings in the trunk…it was the cheapest way out, and maybe the only cost-justifiable one, but it destroyed the car.

      And style was the only thing it had going for it. Economy car? If you’re getting 13 miles per gallon…you might as well say the hell with it and buy a Ranch Wagon, eight miles a gallon, and live with it. It’s actually amazing, how far technology has taken us; to where a performance car gets 30 miles a gallon…

  • avatar

    Ron was on autopilot.

    The lights of the highway strobed in the cab of the Peterbilt 362. Ron was one with his machine. He deftly hunted for a gear in the Fuller, humming along to Whitney and smacking Doublemint. The big truck’s engine brake announced the completion of another cross-country tour seemingly with satisfaction. He carefully guided his rig into the depot, cranking the big wheel like a butter-churner. Towards the back of the lot, the square headlight array of the Pete illuminated the vaguely shiny silhouette of a Ford sitting in high weeds. “There’s that piece of shet.”, Ron smacked.

    The Cat diesel in the big Pete clattered away for an hour as Ron got himself reacquainted with his automobile. First, he was greeted with a musty blast of air upon opening the creaky door. The dim dome light signaled an unwillingness to cooperate. Help was summoned. In the light of the Pete, he inspected under the hood for any more stray cats that might be ensnared in the Thriftmaster six’s belts. He checked the water, finding none left in the porous radiator. “God BLESS IT!” An umbilical to the battery of a fellow trucker’s pickup gave Ron what he needed to light his crumbling Maverick. The 250 came alive with two sharp prods to the gas pedal as usual. The Kraco tape deck clicked away, illuminating a green direction arrow.
    “Ain’t we ridin’ on the freeway of love in my pink Cadillac”
    Ron quickly ejected the stale cassette.

    His rig now secured, and with fresh water coursing through his Ford’s veins, the old trucker tugged the remains of the door handle shut. The brakes grumbled away their light coat of rust, and began the familiar shrill squeak at the stoplight. It had been three weeks since Ron had laid eyes on this car. The typical reunion was never a happy one. As the tires resumed a round state, he was reminded once again of the poor condition of this car. He had almost forgotten about the half-spraypainted dash his nephew applied under his “care”. At least he had left the tape deck.

    “Smells.”, Ron muttered aloud over the clapping exhaust. He reached down to the snapped off window crank for relief, turning it like a knob and shredding his palm in the process. It was a longer than normal trip. The nervous tires told the operator “not today” in regards to using the highway. Ron smiled at the thought of his bobtailed rig being a more suitable means of surface transportation. He wished he was back in it. At long last, the dim headlights pierced the fog of his neighborhood, and the Maverick jounced into the driveway. He shut off the engine quickly, and did his best to dim the clatter of the door when he closed it. He noted that he had forgotten to roll up the window, but decided against correcting it. Hopefully, it would help air the thing out. In the living room, Ron found the sofa draped with a sheet. Some bedding was stacked neatly to the side by his semi-estranged wife. “That’s love.”, he thought. The man drifted off to sleep with the early morning sun starting to bleed through the blinds.

    Ron’s two day respite consisted of football on the TV, and short coffee conversations out of maintenance with the wife. He recharged his batteries on the couch, but it came with the side effect of a wrecked back. “Welp, time to hit the road again.”, he said to his wife. “Be safe.”, she responded with no emotion invested. Then she returned to the bedroom, shutting the door behind her. Ron imagined her sitting on the bed in an invalid state, not sure what to think or feel. The feeling was pretty much mutual. He sighed, and put the Coors cap back on his head.

    Ron used a smattering of trash to protect the seat of his pants from the Maverick seat foam, still soaked from the rains a day prior. Reverse engaged itself, and Ron allowed the car to slowly creep onto the street. After killing a bottle of prescription painkillers, he grimaced the shifter into drive, gazing at the house a final time.

    On the way to the depot, the Kraco slayed the Oak Ridge Boys, rendering them into thinly stretched and crinkled shreds. Ron pulled the Ford further into the weeds than he had before. He shut the engine off and stared at the remains on the thick pile carpet. There was no longer anything for him here. The door was left unlocked. The big Pete once again set off, trailing a cloud of dust, and waving it’s aerials to the torque of the chassis.

    “Hey. I’m in Amarillo now. Should make Georgia by mid day. Do you have a return load for me yet?
    Okay (writing). Okay.
    (Laughs)He wants that thing? Been sittin for a while now. It’s probably smoked.
    Shet, I don’t want nothing for it. Tell him if he wants the motor, he can help himself to it.
    (Laughs) Okay. Talk to ya later.”

  • avatar

    in Brazil, they didn’t get the Mustang, but they did get the Maverick, and I hear they have a Mustang-type following there.

    Marcelo should do a story on them.

    They were supposed to have a staring role in the Fast and Furious movie set in Rio, but mostly ended up on the cutting room floor.

  • avatar

    Someone grabbed the engine, which probably now lives in someone’s work truck in the Billy Beer Futura LeMons car.



  • avatar

    I think of the Falcon and it’s many descendants every time I get behind the wheel of my 1967 Mustang. Few cars have more platform variations and descendants.

    • 0 avatar

      Dan, I knew that the original Falcon platform was used for a couple of decades in North America, and even longer in South America, but that was a fascinating read, thanks.

  • avatar

    USA Ford RWD car platforms.

    Falcon: 1960-80
    Fox: 1978-2004
    Panther: 1979-2011

  • avatar

    My parents went from Fords to Datsuns/Nissans to Toyotas.

  • avatar

    In profile, the original Maverick 2 door was the love-child of a 66 Toronado and a Henry J.

  • avatar

    My friend John wound up with a ’71, white over black, with one option: the V8. It was a hot car by the time he had it, round about 1977. Rubber floor mats. No radio. He called her Millicent.

    Millicent perished when John got into a bit of a drag race – the car could beat contemporary Trans Ams with badly emission control choked engines. John had a few friends in the car, and bottomed it out over railroad track while moving at a good clip. Bottoming out damaged the oil pan, and the engine seized on the freeway minutes later.

    RIP, Millicent.

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