By on April 5, 2021

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord squeezed an amazing amount of value out of the 1960 Falcon‘s chassis design, with everything from the 1964-1973 Mustang to the 1980 Granada rolling Falcon-style. The Falcon itself got replaced here by the Maverick starting in 1970 (with one year of overlap when both were available), but the Maverick still had the 1960 Falcon’s bones under its skin. Millions of Mavericks (and near-identical Mercury Comets) were sold here during the 1970-1977 period, and nearly all of these affordable commutemobiles got crushed decades ago. Still, I run across the occasional Maverick/Comet during my junkyard journeys, and I found this optioned-up ’76 in a Denver-area yard last summer.

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI went to high school during the early 1980s, and the Maverick was one of the most likely cars to be handed down by relatives to my peers back then. No California teenager felt cool driving a stock Maverick (or Comet) during that era, though it could have been worse— you could have been stuck with a Pinto or Vega. I bypassed those image problems by dropping 50 bones on a hooptie 1969 Toyota Corona sedan in not-so-edgy beige and never looked back.

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, V8 engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car was on the semi-hip side, in fact, since it has a V8 engine. If we’re looking at the original engine— nowhere near a certainty, but possible— then this is a 302-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) Winsdor rated at 136 horsepower. Most Mavericks got the straight-six engine because if you could afford the $154 extra for the V8 (about $730 today), you probably felt rich enough to move up to a new Granada or even a Torino.

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, automatic gearshift - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOf course, once you popped your clutch for that extra dough for the engine, why not continue shaking bills out of your wallet and get rid of the clutch in your new car? The three-speed automatic was a $245 option on this car (about $1,160 now), and this car has it. Otherwise, the base transmission for the ’76 Maverick was the three-on-the-tree manual (which disappeared from North American Ford cars after 1977 and from all new cars sold here after 1979).

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’m not sure what this cloth/vinyl bench-seat upholstery was called by Dearborn in 1976, but it’s a step up from the slippery all-vinyl base interior.

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, Panasonic radio - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis aftermarket Panasonic AM/FM radio managed to avoid being stolen during this car’s career, which is something of an accomplishment.

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, taillight - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThese simple taillights were quite popular on kit cars during the 1970s, along with the round lights from Opel Mantas.


Cheaper than a new Volaré and with most of the same features!

For links to 2,100+ additional Junkyard Finds, Junkyard Gems, and Junkyard Treasures, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

37 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford Maverick Sedan...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    When these first came out they had an advertised starting price of $1995. Ford sold a lot of Mavericks/Comets, because they were a solid, reliable, cheap car. A friend in high school had the Comet version of this and we all put that car through hell. I even learned to drive “three on the tree” on that Comet. Good car, good memories

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Makes a Dodge Colt look like a screaming deal.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Four of the six cylinders from the ’60 Falcon lived on in the Tempo through 1994! 34 Years!

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Pushrods rock! (I noticed Honda has recently reverted to OHV from OHC on some of their small outdoor power equip engines)

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Some evolved into the 436HP Barra Turbo. :-)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Barra_engine

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      my dad had an 86 Tempo GLS 2dr with the HSO engine. I believe that higher output version cranked 100hp and it proved to be very reliable.
      By 1999 when he got rid of it, the A/C and power steering were no longer working, the dash had cracks all around and the radio had long been replaced by a Kenwood with cassette deck, but the engine, clutch and transmission were solid and an uncle ended up getting it for dirt cheap. He drove it for 2 more years and then I lost track of it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My dad special-ordered his 74 Maverick 302 a minute before the first oil crisis. Gas prices shot up, but he wasn’t going to drive an anemic 6-cylinder.

    His car was a powder blue 4-door with the vinyl seats (ouch!). It was one of the cars I learned to drive on. With a curb weight of only 2740 lbs (Google), it seemed really quick for the time. First gear would take it to 50 mph, and 2nd gear went to 75. 3rd gear? Well, I nearly pegged the speedo once, and I was too terrified to try that again.

    He traded it for a used 1990 Taurus around 1991, so that Maverick managed to survive 17 years in the western PA hills and salt. Good memories.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    It appears that some have Coyote-ized some Mavericks. Was at the Shelby collection in Boulder, Co. this Saturday and was able to get a chance to get personal with some Shelby G.T. 500s. With the limitations of the Falcon / Comet Bones and it front shock towers, I don’t see how a Maverick could get a Coyote. Any ideas? It would be the ultimate sleeper!

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I had a 73 Maverick two-door with the larger, 250-cubic-inch inline six and automatic. Tough and drop-dead reliable. It even survived being rear-ended at stoplights – twice over the years – by foreign subcompacts. The first a Mazda and the second a Honda. I drove away with minor scratches. The other cars suffered major damage and could not be driven. The only bodywork I ever needed was a new passenger-side fender after a deer ran into me. That car owed me not a thing when I got rid of it in the mid-80’s.

  • avatar
    Vanillasludge

    In their day I remember these looking dorky and cheap. Today they almost look sleek compared to the turd-box SUV’s that pollute the roads.

  • avatar
    KevinB

    Don’t forget the Lincoln Versailles. The ultimate Falcon atrocity.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      The stretch Granada was Falcon based? I didn’t know that

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        The Lincoln Versailles wasn’t even a stretched Granada/Monarch, it was the upmarket loaded one with the standard 302 or optional 351 V8, a revised Lincoln grill with quad lights, padded vinyl roof and leather interior. Plus the trunk lid had the obligatory Lincoln “spare tire” hump. Essentially Fords competitor to the all new X-body Nova based Cadillac Seville

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          GM’s fault. Someone over there tarted up a Nova, upped the MSRP above Deville, and boom it somehow worked (that somehow was later found to be women drivers who found the Deville/Fleetwood et al to be too difficult to park/drive). FoMoCo wanted a piece of that action but evidently two half assed near rebadges was too much for the market to sustain.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            It didn’t hurt GM that the ’76-’79 Seville was the best looking Cadillac of the entire boxy era. The Versailles looked incredibly gauche in comparison.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            ^This^, Say what you want about the Nova based Seville, but it was a classy American answer to the boxy Mercedes, but with all the American creature comforts and despite it’s outrageous $13,000 price tag people bought it. One of the few Cadillac wins

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            If you believe that the original Seville was a ‘Cadillac win’ then it was purely a Pyrrhic victory. It helped to devalue the brand to such an extent that it has never recovered.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            The illness that forever doomed Cadillac in the U.S. was its deliberate effort throughout the Seventies and Eighties to increase sales by pitching so-called “luxury” and “exclusivity” on the cheap to the unkempt masses. The Seville was merely a leprous side effect.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Those simple taillights were also shared with the 71-77 Pinto. The 78-80 got larger more Euro styled ones. The twin Mercury Bobcat got a quad version of the Pinto taillight.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I haven’t seen a Maverick in over 30 years. The first Maverick came out in the Spring of 1970 at $1,995. I like the blue interior.

  • avatar
    tane94

    My mom had a 1972 maverick with the 302 and upscale Luxury Decor Option interior which included deep pile shag carpet. I remember the fog lights were turned on manually by a switch located toward the passenger side lower dashboard! When I got my license in 1978, I enjoyed smoking the tires courtesy of the 302. She eventually sold that car to someone who wanted that pre-smog engine to transplant.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    1976 was the Bicenentenial–and about the time I had discovered Car and Driver and Road and Track (but not yet Consumer Reports), and an Edmunds Car Prices.

    The Maverick might have been under $2000 at inception. It was a relatively small car, so the Ford six wasn’t too slow. In 1970, emissions standards were still easy.

    But by 1976, this car was the lamest of the “compacts”. It was small and cramped, and the big, UGLY, bumpers and emissions controls made six-cylinder Mavericks, with their laughable 84 hp, very slow. The 302 V8s were quite thirsty for 1975, maybe 1976 was better with the catalyst.

    And AMC Hornet was better. A Dart/Valiant better yet, MUCH better, and a Nova was even better than that. The Aspen/Volare should’ve been comparable overall to a Nova, an inferior driver, but with more room and that station wagon, but they were lemons.

    Pure malaise, er-Maverickalaise, here.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Agree that is a pretty solid summary. With one quibble. The slant six Dart/Valiant sedan offered better reliability and what seemed to us to be better/more usable interior space than any of their domestic ‘compact’ competitors. Just as long as you remembered to keep a few ballast resistors handy. The VW Type IV Squareback I drove was light years ahead in many way compared to these domestics. Japanese vehicles of the time were generally far more cramped and prone to rust.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I had to rent a ’75 Maverick from a Ford dealer early in 1975. Fuel consumption was 13.5 miles/gallon in conservative mixed city and highway driving. I still compare it to modern vehicles to show that engineering, rather than a poorer standard of living, is the solution to environmental issues.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    My mom had a 1970 Maverick for a while. When it rained, the distributor cap would get wet and the car wouldn’t start. After that, my father became a “Never Ford” guy for the rest of his life.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would have picked the Nova above all the other compact cars. My Great Great Uncle bought a white 4 door I6 1971 Maverick but that was after owning a 1962 Rambler American. I remember the Mavericks being a decent car for the money. I always like the Darts and Valiants with a slant 6 better but I would have been glad to have had any of them. As a young college student with more limited funds I drove my parent’s 64 Impala 9 passenger wagon which at the time I was just happy to have a car.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    When I was a kid, you couldn’t walk without stepping on these. They were everywhere.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    When I was in driving school ( in 1980) the instructor had one of these . I remember it was a “cheap feeling” car compared to my dads car at the time ( a 1968 Chrysler Newport ). Also the maverick had standard (vs. Power) steering

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The problem with the Maverick was it was originally conceived as Ford’s VW Beetle fighter, which meant it was sized and built to be as cheap as possible. That explains the initial $1995 MSRP.

    Then, Ford found out about the Vega, and had to come up with the Pinto, and making the Maverick into a more competitive vehicle with stuff like the Luxury Decor Group (LDO) but it just didn’t work.

    So, as far as the Big 3’s seventies’ compacts go, the Maverick was on the losing end of that battle. Even AMC’s grungy old, Rambler-based Hornet was a better car.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The Pinto was the answer (exterminator) to the Bug. It was only pointed out that for little more Bug money, you could have an economical real car.

      Otherwise the Maverick did battle with the Aspen and Vega. It sold a staggering 560K the first year and was eventually leaching (far more expensive) Mustang II sales, not just the coupe but it was basically a 4-door Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        If you want to call the Pinto a ‘real car’.

        Toronto Police for a time had both Pintos and Bugs in their fleet for cadets and parking enforcement to drive. The larger officers generally preferred the Bug as it was a far better fit for a large person wearing the required gear.

        Unfortunately the Pintos were also fitted with ‘defective’ tires and the rules required that the gas tanks be kept at least half filled. Making them something of a health and safety joke at the time.

        Having owned/operated multiple Beetles, a Type III, a Type IV and a Pinto wagon, I can attest that the Pinto was my least favourite. The Beetles didn’t have heaters and the Type IV was ‘temperamental’ but I preferred them in many ways.

        And as previously noted the Type IV was light years ahead of the Pinto in regards to engineering, ergonomics and design.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Remember some of my senior mechanical engineering class going out to the Ford dealer in ’69 to see a 428 Mustang drag car from the USA. While we waited to see that Mustang, a new green Maverick caught our attention. It was a three on the tree, and the standard of welding on the shift shaft linkage from the wheel to some other piece underhood was a joke. Weld spatter everywhere and who knows if the two pieces were actually united. Looked like a high school industial arts class had been let loose for practise. Wasn’t worth two grand plus as it sat. Just horrible quality.

    I always remembered that when ten years or so later my dear mother used to call me up to come over and start her best friend’s Maverick. Just opening the hood for the first time was an eye-opener in what total corrosion looked like. To me the thing was unsafe, the inner fenders that supported the spring/shock units peppered with holes. But those two late middle-aged dears always wanted to go shopping, no excuses, so wiping off the dewy distributor cap and leads seemed to work most days. After which the mobile collection of iron oxide could trundle off to the malls. I learned not to worry about it. How it passed the annual provincial inspection I’ll never know.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    Dad had a ’74 Comet with the 302 V8. This is the year of “interlock” which failed every time. My responsibility was to press the reset button under the hood with each trip.
    The engine hissed, hesitated, stalled, surged, etc. Not till fully warmed would the engine behave. Fuel mileage was 12 to 15 on the highway at best. Handling was awful, felt like a roller coaster ready to leave the tracks. Developed a collapsed lifter, so Dad sold the car for peanuts.
    As a WWII vet, Dad always bought Detroit iron. Based on this experience, his next car was a Toyota Corolla Hatchback, then a Nissan Maxima.

    NOTE: Several years later, the car passed me in a grocery store parking lot with the distinctive clack of the collapsed lifter. I felt sorry for he driver.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mcs: A 2020 911 Carrera S has about 338 miles range. With 2025 battery tech, an electric 718 could have significantly...
  • Crosley: The Left loves litigation, they can’t get things through the normal, democratic process. But they can...
  • jkross22: @Lou, I didn’t read the report referenced, but can regurgitate what American Society of Civil...
  • whynotaztec: I don’t get it. Most of us on here think these styling trends are hideous. Yet they keep styling...
  • Land Ark: “But Honda needs to do better than just a cynical appearance play if it wants to truly sell customers...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

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