By on January 8, 2015

06 - 1977 Ford Maverick Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYou just don’t see Ford Mavericks and their Mercury Comet brethren on the street these days; they haven’t picked up a huge amount of collector interest and their place at the bottom of the just-above-scrap-value beater-car food chain has been replaced by the early Ford Taurus. For some reason, though, a steady trickle of Mavericks and Comets shows up in California wrecking yards. My guess, based on the 1980s and 1990s detritus I find in some of them, is that they spent a decade or three forgotten in a back yard or driveway before being sold to U-Wrench-It. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’75 Maverick two-door, this ’75 Comet sedan, this ’77 Comet sedan, and now today’s ’77 Maverick sedan. Let’s examine this Malaise Mainstay more closely.
03 - 1977 Ford Maverick Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinBack in the early 1980s, the owner of this car was willing to put the sticker that saved Ford from the biggest recall in automotive-industry history on his dash. Most of the 23 million owners of the affected vehicles opted not to uglify their dashes with these “Park-To-Reverse” stickers.
14 - 1977 Ford Maverick Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI’m not sure what an Oregon Free Ride sticker was for, but I’m guessing that neither ass, nor grass, nor ass is involved.
07 - 1977 Ford Maverick Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI couldn’t get the hood to open, but there’s about a 99.999% chance that what’s underneath is not interesting. Probably a 7-horsepower 200 L6 or a 9-horsepower 302 V8, yawn (cue enraged emails from the Maverick Jihad™, letting me know that the 200 made 96 hp and the 302 made 130 hp).
05 - 1977 Ford Maverick Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinStill one hubcap left!

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77 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford Maverick Sedan...”


  • avatar
    Aquineas

    First car I ever drove completely unsupervised (the roommate of my older brother lent me his). It was a kind of… orange?

  • avatar
    skor

    Except for the ‘Grabber’ versions, these cars don’t get much love, and never will. That said, only a bad wreck or the tin-worm can kill these things. The mechanical bits are dead simple. If you’ve got a tool kit that includes pliers, hammer, duct tape and a bailing wire, you can keep these on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      I believe, IIRC, that the Ford commercials for this car back then extolled the virtues of the ease of repair with simple hand tools. One of my buds in Idaho bought one new in ’71 or ’72 – the owners manual had a section on hammer, crescent wrench and screw driver repairable items on the car.

    • 0 avatar

      My first experience being scared in a car (non relative division) was in a Grabber Maverick. I recall it wasn’t nearly as nice as the parental 1973 Grand Prix….

      The owner, who was an a#høle, later “slipped on wet leaves”.

      History of most early musclecars..rode hard, put away wet, young and stupid owner….

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        I hardly classify the Grabber Mavericks as a ‘muscle car’. The Grabber option consisted of a de-balled 302(I think some were I6), some JC Whitney quality stick on strips, and a JC Whitney quality rear deck spoiler.

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          OK, they weren’t musclecars, but they went fast enough that the lousy suspension, brakes, etc. were dangerous.

          I nearly lost my life riding shotgun in one of these. The idiot went into a field of cows @75mph. No roadholding whatsoever.

          My cousin inherited her grandfather’s ’71 Maverick. She ended up in the hospital for months because these things were evil in rain.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In the GTA these were generally a suburban 2nd car for older stay at home moms or those working part-time.

    An upgrade from the Pinto wagon that younger moms with young children would usually drive.

    As such, they became the weekend warrior for their teenage children. Rode in many a Maverick driven by high school classmates. The standard bench seat in front allowed for maximum passenger capacity.

    Fairly reliable for the day but dead slow and with almost non-existent steering feel.

    Remember driving home from football practice. The 3 of us in the back seat for some reason started moving side to side and ended up moving the whole rear end of the car with our motion.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    My best friend in high school had a ’71 Maverick that was truly stripped, two door coupe, beige in color, 200 C.I. in-line six and a three on the tree manual shift and that’s it. It didn’t even initially have a radio though an AM only unit was later added.

    The car was really primitive even by 1971 standards but that three speed manual would spin the little tires (6.95 bias ply’s I think) like crazy which was a plus for high school hooning. Other than that it was a completely unremarkable car (and would be unforgettable if not for its totally primitive existentialism) though it was pretty reliable as I recall.

  • avatar
    319583076

    I presume no gas was involved with the Oregon Free Ride sticker either?

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    My Consumer Guide used car auto magazine ranging from 1971-1980 has one year where the 250 straight six put out only 72 HP in this car. Was probably 1975 or 76 when the catalytic converter was first installed.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    buddy had one provided by his fomoco working father. straight 6 but we drempt about a stock 302 or stuffing a 351 in there. never lit ’em up but we had fun on two track roads in the brighton recreation area. got stuck once then had two of us go stand on the rear bumper and lean on the rear window to increase traction. worked like a charm. thought we were geniuses.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these in real life. Did they use this platform for a downsized Lincoln as well?

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      This was built on the Falcon platform. I think Fomoco got more mileage out of the Falcon platform than any car platform in history with the exception of the air-cooled VW. The Falcon platform was used for Mustangs, Cougars, Fairlanes, Comets, Granadas, etc…yes, even a Lincoln..the Lincoln Versailles. Down South it was pronounced Ver-sales.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It’s also pronounced ver-sales in the Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky area. There’s a town in Indiana called Versailles. It’s a very underwhelming place, which many people have to drive through to get to other places.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          “There’s a state called Indiana. It’s a very underwhelming place, which many people have to drive through to get to other places.”

          Fixed

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Very true. I know because I spent 21 years there. These comments cannot apply to Indianapolis though, which is a nice city that others would do well to emulate.

            *cough Cincinnati cough*

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Haha as a recent transplant from Central NY (Ithaca), I resent that statement!!

            In all honesty though, being in the flatlands is driving me insane. In the summer I make as many trips south to Bloomington as possible to go hiking, canoeing, and camping in the Charles C Deam Wilderness there. Indianapolis itself is a pretty nice city I suppose, with some cool local spots to go see and a good art museum. Coming from the gorges, waterfalls, lakes, excellent fishing streams of back home I’ve come to realize that one of the prime passtimes of the better-to-do in the Midwest seems to be nonstop shopping. Hop in the GMT900 SUV (Tahoe, Denali, Escalade) and head down to the mall.

            What is refreshing to see compared to back home is the amount of healthy industry and manufacturing that is still here. I mean nothing like the heyday of GM plants that lined the Indy-Ft Wayne I-69 corridor back in the day, but leagues better than the dearth of factories and even small machine shops in Central/Upstate NY.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Illinois is worse. Versailles IL is an actual place mispronounced the same way.

          Same w/ Des Plaines, IL.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          You can add western PA to that list. We even have a town about 15 miles SE of Pittsburgh called North Versailles, which is pronounced locally as Ver-sales here.

          Dubois PA is doo-boys, no doo-bwa here.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          You’ve also got North Versailles Township in the Pittsburgh, PA area. Also locally pronounced Ver-sales.

      • 0 avatar
        Aquineas

        Whatever platform Chrysler used for the K-car might be up there too? Don’t know the numbers, but for a while there it seemed like every car in the Chrysler lineup was K-car derived. Since you mentioned the Granada, perhaps you are old enough to remember the commercial where Ford (with a straight face) has a family driving it in a parade or something and having people mistake it for a Mercedes Benz? I couldn’t find that particular one on the tube but I found others… This at a time when Mercedes really was building tanks. It was insulting even to my childhood sensibilities. Ford couldn’t even figure out how to keep their headlights from randomly shutting off back then.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          K-Car is a reference to the K-Platform, save for their oddball Mitsubishi sourced models and their trucks, a good number of Chryslers cars were K-derived including the “legendary” Caravan.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Had a new ’78 T-Bird. The ‘hideaway’ headlight panels were infuriating.

          Most mornings I would find one or the other open or partially open. Often they would refuse to open or close properly in cold weather.

      • 0 avatar
        chicagoland

        I agree, but Ford also got a lot of mileage from the Fox and Panther cars too. They lasted more then the 21 model years of Falcon. [Only counting USA]

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Ford Maverick was the worst care I ever drove. It did nothing well. It was worse even than the Chevette, because at least the Chevette got decent fuel economy and fit into small spaces.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      I think the Fairmont was worse.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The Maverick was good for its intended purpose, which was providing reliable, low-cost transportation to drivers on a budget. Compared to the other domestic compacts of that era – the AMC Hornet, Chevrolet Nova, Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant – it did what it was supposed to do.

        Ford offered the Maverick (and Mercury Comet) with the Luxury Décor Option (LDO), which was one of the first attempts to upgrade the interior trim of a domestic compact to emulate the large cars. In the 1970s, a compact with a fairly plush interior was a new idea. This car looks as though it has LDO exterior trim, but LDO Mavericks had plusher carpeting and a higher level of interior trim than this car appears to have.

        The 1978 Fairmont, however, was a huge improvement in every way.

      • 0 avatar
        chicagoland

        Fairmont is the 5.0 Mustang’s roots. It may have been slow and dull at first, but Ford got a lot from its platform.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Corey, Lincoln Versailles was a tarted up Granada.

    Sorry if this is a duplicate. In our part of suburbia, young stay at home moms with kids got Pinto wagons. When they aged or moved up financially they got a Maverick.

    Due to the demographics, the Maverick as the 2nd car became the first car used by many new drivers/teen drivers.

    It was fairly reliable for a malaise era domestic, due to its basic nature. The standard front bench maximized passenger capacity.

    However its driving characteristics were far inferior to the VW Series 3 and Series ‘shooting brakes’ that I drove.

    Remember being driven home from football practice in a Maverick. The 3 of us in the back started moving from side to side in unison and actually got the rear end of the Maverick to sway side to side with us, while in motion.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “However its driving characteristics were far inferior to the VW Series 3 and Series ‘shooting brakes’ that I drove.”

      As much as I despised my Type 3 I will give it credit for driving better than any Maverick I drove, just had to weight the front down a little. The interior build-quality was leagues above any 70’s-80’s Ford I’ve driven.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Sorry missed a key stroke. Should read VW Series 3 and Series 4 ‘shooting brakes’ (3 door station wagons). The Series 4 unfortunately suffered from VW’s fabled electrical glitches and the sound of squeaky brakes that applied to all VW’s manufactured in the 1970’s.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          They also had some wonky factory handling due to the front ends being a bit light, its why lowering kits are quite popular with them.

          Dunno if Type 4s handled any better, I just know that VW went all Chevy Corvair with the styling.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “The 3 of us in the back started moving from side to side in unison and actually got the rear end of the Maverick to sway side to side with us, while in motion.”

      Used to do that to school buses too. Hehehehe!

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Uh-oh…Sajeev’s not gonna be pleased when he sees photo #11.

  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    I believe the saying goes, “Ass, gas or grass, no one rides for free”

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I knew a ton of people who had these when I was in HS in the 1970’s-1980’s. My wife’s mother had a 1972 with the 200 six and three on the tree. It was one of the first cars my wife ever drove.

    In 1980 I had a 1974 coupe version that came with the 250 six and automatic. That motor was no economy car motor but in it’s defense, it was never meant to do anything else but be an engine. By the time all of the emissions controls was hung on the thing, it couldn’t breathe.

    I had a buddy who worked at a Cleveland area Ford dealer, got me a deal on a NOS 289 truck motor. Stuffed it in the Maverick, it was a fun car for a while. It was then I realized the stock brakes and shocks were totally insufficient for the kind of power the mildly tuned 289 could put out.

    The rust started to advance on the shock towers, so I sold off the car to avoid having to make those repairs.

    The plain jane ones were really basic (FoMoCo trying to compete with the VW Bug), but you could get them pretty nicely equipped, if you were so inclined. There was a Luxury Decor Option package that really dressed up the car. It was no Lincoln (but maybe a discount Mercury), but it made it a little more livable.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Now that I look at the photos again, it looks like the subject car may have the LDO package…

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        It looks as though it features the LDO exterior trim, but I thought that LDO Mavericks had plusher carpeting and better interior trim than this car does.

        That wheel cover, incidentally, is from a 1978 and later Granada. I don’t believe that Ford put those wheel covers on a Maverick.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I believe you’re right about the wheel cover. Definitely from a Granada.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          You know your Maverick’s. This one is actually a very rare Limited Edition Maverick (LEM). They featured two tone paint and a vinyl roof. I think it originally had rally wheels. You are correct in that is not the original hubcap. That’s from a Granada Ghia.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      I had a ’75 Comet GT with the 302 V-8 and automatic. My recollection from the time is that it supposedly put out a whopping 140 horsepower. It had terrible weight distribution and was very nose-heavy with terrible weight distribution. The rear end wanted to swing around if you went around a corner too fast. The front suspension was not up to the job and the car had problems with upper control arm bushings wearing out prematurely.

      My sister had a ’73 Maverick 4-Door with the LDO (tan vinyl bucket seats) and the 302 V-8 and automatic. After she graduated from college in the early 80s she got a job in California and the Maverick wouldn’t pass the California smog test so she gave it to my parents, who didn’t really need it. My parents had Pontiac Parisienne Brougham with a dark blue velour interior. They also had a west highland white terrier who left wiry white hair all over the seats.

      The Maverick became the dog’s car. Anytime my parents wanted to run an errand and take him along, they drove him in his Maverick. I know this sounds like just another example of over-priviledged Americans buying cars for their pets, but it was a used car and more than 10 years old at the time after all. It’s not like the dog had a new car.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My dad’s Pinto had the same color scheme, same brown paint, same extremely off-putting beige-yellow-cream interior. I’d love to know what Ford called that color, it’s pretty horrific.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Found this picture at old car brochures – 1977 Limited Edition Maverick – same color scheme – maybe this is rare!!!

    http://oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Ford/1977_Ford/1977_Ford_Spring_Wheels_Folder/1977%20Ford%20Spring%20Wheels%20Folder-04.html

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Oh man that Cruising Van is totally bitchin.

    And were they going for luxury with the Mustang II at the time – that cream paint and the chromed non-sport hubcaps?

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Dunno – but I think that LTD II with the Sports Appearance Package is nice – a quasi Starsky and Hutch treatment.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The Valiant and Nova were better cars than this tinny thing!

  • avatar
    wmba

    This is a vehicle so badly made, so cynical, so representative of the derision Ford felt import buyers deserved, purchasing some small piece of foreign “sh!t”, that they felt the worst quality welding and finish, along with a low price, would be 100% more than enough to stem the import tide. And that was pretty much the opinion of the vast majority of the public as well. People would actually chide you for buying a small furrin car, and that was in Canada.

    Like most of the trolls that exist today on the Internet, nothing, not a thing, you could say would change minds so set in their ways as to be on a railroad track heading over a cliff.

    Ford reinforced their attitude the following year, bringing out the even more cynical Pinto, a car with no interior room, a suspension from hell, and in no way fit to wipe the floor following the passing of their own UK Escort. In those days, Detroit executives wallowing about in LTDs had no idea what their foreign subsidiaries were making, isolated in the Silver Towers of Detroit as they were.

    Let’s face it, yes indeed, Mavericks were that bad.

  • avatar
    powermatic

    ‘Free Ride’ was an anti-theft program that drivers could voluntarily sign up for wherein if a cop saw a car with the above sticker driving around between 1-5:00 A.M., they could pull it over without cause to check if it had been stolen. Looks like at least 2672 old folks bought into it.

  • avatar

    I guess the funny thing is it’s got the same chassis as the original Mustang.

    I’d love nothing more than to throw 40 pages of Jegs catalog Mustang parts at one of these, but do my best to keep a genuinely malaise-y appearance.

    The shame experienced by anyone getting run down by it at a track day would be incredible.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      There was a magazine article a few years back about a guy who stuffed a Mercury Merkur turbo-4 into a Pinto and proceeded to clean the clocks of guys running some expensive whips around the local track. If I was driving an expensive car and was passed by a Pinto, I’d go home and hang myself.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      These were more Mustang than the Mustang II ever was, Mavericks being essentially Falcons with less charisma aesthetically.

    • 0 avatar
      Aquineas

      Yep. I owned a Mustang once, and I really wish the “classic” Mustang owners would wake up and realize they were just stylish pieces of absolute crap when they first came out.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Cheap , boring unremarkable but oh so sturdy….

    I hated these things , we had a whole fleet of them @ LAX .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    I am amazed at the lack of oil dripping from the oil pan and power steering area under the car. Exact same power steering linkage as my Mustang, with a lot less oil leakage.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    These really are bad cars, everyone I’ve looked at would have a serious issue with it one way or another.

    For anyone complaining about modern bumpers, I just want to say that he 5-mph bumpers on these things are a bit more frail so many years later. Last one I drove had the front bumper pushed in a little from a light bump.

    You can forget about any side-collisions, an older one I drive would require a bit of structure repair after a small collision it had with a pole between the doors.

    I’d never DD one either, a red one I looked at had its engine burn up about a week later, serious rust in the trunk too.

    I’d sooner go for an early Falcon just to get the more elegant styling, be it Falcon, Mustang, or Maverick I’d upgrade the brakes ASAP along with other bits and ends, may as well do it with the one that looks the best.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Murilee,
    Are there any Type 3 or Type 4 VW’s left in the yards (or on the road? in your neck of the woods?

    Would sure like to see some pictures and/or read some comments on these.

  • avatar
    djn

    Ford made the Maverick in Brazil. Stardard motor was the OHC-4 (Merkur LOL). Optional motor was V8, AKAIK

  • avatar
    fiasco

    Maverick…my dad had one of these for a week after he sold his 66 Corvette convertible. It went back to the dealer as it was a total POS. He settled on a ’62 Falcon that used a quart of oil a day whether you drove it or not. Same car, 1/10th the cost, and way less likely to get stolen in Hartford, CT in 1973.

    The other Maverick I know of gave its engine and 3 speed to a co-worker’s ’65 Mustang about 30 years ago.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    That car actually has the 8.25HP 250six. Starter motor is below oil pan flange. On 200’s, the starter is above the pan flange.Now you know

  • avatar
    mechaman

    My father bought a maverick when I was getting out of high school .. it was used, but only about a year old. Well, I thought for sure I’d get to drive it. Then it disappeared suddenly, and he wouldn’t tell me why. My mother told me only after he’d passed (2006) that the guy who sold it to him had scammed him, it was a stolen vehicle…he was PISSED. That’s why he wouldn’t talk about it.

  • avatar
    Simon

    I’m surprised no one has commented how close that this little car had come to rolling over the odometer, as pictured in the photo with the label. Not even 500 miles to go before it started the next 100,000 miles to the crusher!

  • avatar
    Grant404

    My miscellaneous Maverick memories –

    In the spring of ’70, I went with one of my friends and his parents to trade in their green ’64 Rambler 770 Wagon for a brand new ’70 Maverick, one of an amazing 579,000 Mavericks sold by Ford in the extended 1970 model year. Theirs was a pretty basic unit, 2 door, auto, dark blue with retina-frying blue plaid bench seats, crappy AM-only radio, no air (of course), and non-rolling-down (pop-open only) rear windows, but meh, it was a brand new car. The other odd thing about that day (other than those plaid seats) was while on the way home there was a solar eclipse across the eastern US and Canada. I remember the sky getting very dim like the sun was going down, then after several minutes getting light again. The cool thing is, unlike most 45 year-old memories, that eclipse allows me to pin down the exact day it happened – March 7, 1970 (the same eclipse of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” fame).

    Later in the ’70s while I was in high school, early Mavericks were as ubiquitous in the student lot (and newly hired faculty lot) as old Hondas and Hyundais are today. In fact, my HS gf drove a ’71 Maverick, once again a very basic 2-door unit with no power anything (it had what we called “Armstrong power steering”), and was equipped (or non-equipped) much like the ’70 above had been. I hated it for being a gutless, buzzy six-banger that sounded like a Cessna (in retrospect it had an exhaust leak, I think), but it got us around and into assorted high school hijinks (wink wink), a fact which will forever earn it and Mavericks in general a soft spot in my heart.


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