(first posted 12/3/2016) 43 years after its debut in Brazil, the Ford Maverick has reached superstar status among gearheads and collectors. They are in love with the many qualities of the car, and for them it represents power, speed and style. It’s a classic, a legend and it’s a real Brazilian muscle car. It shares that status only with the Dart/Charger, since the purists don’t consider the Chevy Opala as a member of this club—no inline six belongs here.
Obviously all that love has kicked the value of the car to the stratosphere on the collectible market; a decently restored Maverick GT nowadays commands the same price range of a ’68 hardtop Mustang. Here’s its story, including the bad, the good and..the fast.
Sure enough, the market considers only the V8 Mavericks valuable; the other versions, 6 and 4 cylinder, are completely forgotten. I have in my family a real example of how the enthusiasts are dedicated to the hobby.
My brother-in-law is finishing a complete restoration of his 1975 Maverick. The car has an interesting story: it is a junkyard rescue and was born a 6 cylinder car. Now it has a 347 stroker with aluminum heads, Crower camshaft and a 650 CFM Edelbrock carb on top. The engine is bolted to a 5 speed Tremec and the car has disc brakes on all 4 corners and a nice set of large, imported wheels. The next step will be something we Brazilians are still trying to master: full sequential fuel injection on a vintage V8.
From the crusher to a top-notch resto mod, this guy is spending my niece’s college money on that car. Why? Because he is passionate about it. And yes, I do regret not being there to take that Maverick for a spin. But the Maverick road wasn’t always paved with love and tenderness,
The car had a troubled start in 1973, and I do believe that is the reason the Maverick died so young.
In the early 70s Ford was in need of a mid-size family car. Since the acquisition of Willys Overland in 1967, they kept building the “Itamaraty”, a fancier version of the Aero Willys but it was in no way a car that could face the new Chevy Opala.
In 1971 Ford finally ended the production of the Itamaraty .
Interesting fact: during the military dictatorship, it was a normal procedure for the automakers to try to “please” the government by naming their cars after something related. Itamaraty is the name of Federal Government’s palace.
In the early 70s, Ford threw a cocktail party and invited some random people from the Brazilian society, mostly journalists. In the room there were four cars, all in white, with no badges and no name plates. Two of them were very well-known from the streets.
The Chevy Opala.
The Ford Corcel.
And the other two cars were complete strangers to the Brazilian consumers:
The German Taunus.
And the American Maverick
While people were happily drinking and eating, they were asked to vote on the car they liked best. The winner was the Taunus.
Of course the people who attended this party were just a tiny little fraction of the market, but among them there were some of the most influential automobile journalists of the time. The Taunus should have been the obvious and logical choice for Ford. It was already the competitor of the Opel Rekord in Germany, the very car that was the basis for the Chevy Opala.
Part of a “massive investment ” to produce the new car was already under way, Ford was building a brand new engine assembly plant just for the modern 2.3 OHC four. This would be the entry-level engine for either the Taunus or Maverick. The only problem with the Taunus was finding an engine that could face the Chevy 250 six “mano-a-mano” since the most powerful option in Europe was a 2294cc V6. The Taunus had to receive a “hot rodding” process, just like the Opala did, to be perceived to be competitive.
Ford had this great opportunity when the customers whispered in its ears what car they wished to buy, and they decided to ignore it.
Instead they got the green light from Detroit to produce the Maverick. They said the Taunus would be too costly to be produced in Brazil, especially for a car that would have less than fantastic sales numbers.
The Ford Maverick had a hard task to take some of the Opala’s market share. The Opala had created a sales niche of its own in 1969, comfortably positioned above the Ford Corcel and below the Dodge Dart. By 1973 it already had a legion of loyal customers.
Nowadays we can only guess just what made Ford pick the Maverick over the Taunus. The lack of a powerful engine was perhaps one of them, but time played a very important role. 1973/74 were very exciting years for the Brazilian auto industry, and all of the auto makers had new models set to be released:
VW had the Brasilia.
And the revolutionary FWD Passat.
GM had the Chevette.
Chrysler had the 1800.
And Ford had to bring something to the table as well.
Deciding for the Maverick, Ford supposedly took the easiest path: the big engine problem was solved, as the 302 V8 would make those Opala SS owners swallow their arrogance.
And the car even had unintentional advertising, as we always considered the Maverick to be a close cousin of the Mustang.
But time was not on Ford’s side. The new 2.3 L engine factory wouldn’t be fully operational until 1975, leaving the entry level engine option to the existing 6 cylinder. Here things started to turn ugly.
The first wave of Mavericks built in Brazil provoked a mix of feelings. The GT version was exactly what the market was expecting, an “almost a Mustang” kind of car, with the superb, rev-loving small block V8, disc brakes in front, four on the floor transmission, wider wheels and tires and a “bad ass” graphics package.
On the other hand, the inline six Maverick was a total disaster. Before we go on to explain why, let’s do a bit of history recap: When Ford acquired Willys Overland do Brasil in 1967, the main idea was to grab the project that would become the successful Corcel. But, keep in mind that Ford’s management was committed to squeeze that lemon to the last drop.
Ford kept some of the Willys line up in production until as late as 1984, like the CJ, called here simply “Jeep”
And the F-75 Jeep-based truck. Shown here is the later 2.3 OHC alcohol-fueled option.
With that conception of business in mind, they didn’t see a problem in dropping the ancient Willys inline six under the Maverick’s hood. It was cheap and immediately available.
To complete the combo, there was the clumsy Willys 4 speed transmission with the column shifter and drum brakes all around.
That was the car Ford was hoping to make a dent in Opala sales? Seriously?
The 2.6 L (161 CI) Willys six dated back to 1950, when the even older Willys flathead six received an F-head conversion (overhead intake valves, side exhaust valves in the block). It was outdated by the mid 60s even by South American standards.
Willys did some work to improve it, increasing displacement from 2.6 to 3.0 liters, giving it a better-flowing exhaust header, and even offering an optional dual carb version. They indeed got a few extra horses out of the engine but it was just not enough. Reliability was another concern, as the engine was know as “six burner stove”. The last cylinder, the one closest to the firewall, would overheat under higher RPM to the point of melting the piston inside.
Ford did some improvements as well, things like new pistons and connecting rods able to use better rings and journals, redesigned head, intake and exhaust manifold, and they even installed a bypass coolant hose out side of the engine to cool down the last cylinder.
Oh yeah… the vision of that hose always gave me a sense of how poorly car was built.
Obviously the best choice was the 302 V8. It was the standard engine for the GT, and an option for the rest of the line, but all the V8 models came with some sort of performance package, things like better brakes, 4 speed manual or automatic transmission, wider wheels and tires, all of which made them considerably more expensive than the mundane models. The bulk of the sales would fall on the cheaper 6 cylinder Maverick, at least until the arrival of the 2.3 L four banger model.
The Maverick was sold in 4 different trims, standard, Luxo, Super Luxo and GT. To be honest, I always paid so little attention to the non GT models that I couldn’t tell the difference between them.
At first, the only body option was the 2 door coupe and a few months later the 4 door sedan was available.
Comparatively, the 4 cylinder Chevy Opala was better in just about every detail against the 6 cylinder Maverick. Finally in 1975 came the really good 2.3 but the damage was already done.
The V8 models comprised roughly 20% of the total Mavericks in 1973; Ford was expecting a low demand and that was the reason to import the 302 instead producing it here. We believed those V8 engines were all coming from Canada and soon, on the streets, the unofficial name of the 302 became “The Canadian “. Years later we learned they actually came mostly from Mexico, but the name stuck even to these days.
For American standards, our small block was pretty tame: 7.8:1 comp ratio, bijet carb on top, single exhaust. Nothing special. Ford officially declared the power just a bit under the 200 hp limit in order to make insurance cost more affordable. On the title of the V8 Mavericks you can read “198 hp”.
In 1976 the Galaxie/Landau/LTD got a facelift and the aging “Y” block was replaced by he 302. Now, with greater demand, Ford started to build them here.
Also in 1976, Chevy decided to make the life of the Maverick a bit harder on the streets, so they created a spicy version of the 250, especially for the Opala SS. The engine, called 250-S, got a more aggressive camshaft, higher compression ratio, a better carb and solid lifters. Just a few little tricks from the race track.
The Test Everybody Was Waiting For.
Now, with a more powerful Opala, our most traditional car magazine, Quatro Rodas (Four Wheels) felt comfortable to bring together the three Brazilian Muscle Cars for a complete test. Here’s the part that gets our attention the most:
From zero to 100 km/h (o-62 mph)
Maverick: 10.85 sec
Opala: 11.67 sec
Charger: 12.00 sec
Opala: 189.5 km/h
Maverick : 180.0 km/h
Charger: 179.5 km/h
The Beginning of The End
The dreadful Willys inline 6 was gradually replaced by the far more efficient 2.3 OHC. By 1976 even the CJ “Jeep” and the F-75 got the this new engine.
For the 1977 model, the Maverick received its first (and only) cosmetic changes: a new grille;
And the tail lights were redesigned with a 3 segment style, just like the Mustang.
The GT got the 4 cylinder option, new stripes and a really cool pair of fake scoops on the hood.
In 1978 Ford completely redesigned the successful Corcel, giving it the “square headlights” style that soon every car maker in Brazil would follow. The car was bigger, roomier and had a comfortable ride. The new Corcel put one foot into the midsize car market, hurting even more the already shameful Maverick sales.
1979 was the Maverick’s final year. Exactly 106,108 units were produced in Brazil.
The country was just about to enter a decade of hardship. The transition from military government to the civil one, financial crisis, hyperinflation, gas prices going up on a weekly basis. The era of big engines was over, the A-Body Mopar would die in 1981, the Galaxie did in 1983 and only the huge popularity of the Opala kept it alive until 1992.
Could things have been better if Ford never had produced the “Willys-Maverick”? Definitely!
Would the Taunus have been a better seller than the Maverick ? Certainly!
Would the hot rodders love the Taunus more than the Maverick 40 years later? I don’t think so!
But then again… I could be totally wrong.
It would be a shame not to talk a little about the racing career of the Brazilian Maverick. If the car had failed to beat the Opala on market, at least it did for a while on the tracks.
By the early 70s the most prestigious race in Brazil was the “Division 3” for the domestic touring cars in a very unrestricted rules environment.
Until 1973, Chevy Opala was the king of the class, always followed by a “sea” of VW Beetles.
Ford was really wiling to make the Maverick a champion, following the motto “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday “. They gave to teams financial and technical support as well as supplied performance parts for the small block.
With all that help, the best race teams decided to flip over to Ford, leaving the Opala for those die hard Chevy lovers.
The Mavericks dominated the Division 3 for a few years, but in 1976 Ford decided to cut the money flow to the class. It was too expensive and was failing to attract more cars for the grid.
Instead they would give better support to the “Formula Ford”, small Formula cars equipped with the Corcel engine.
Without the Ford support, the teams went back to the more affordable Opala. Chevy noticed a good opportunity there and jumped into Ford’s place. GM did a good job because they turned the dying Division 3 into the successful Brazilian “Stock Car”
If there is a car that symbolizes the peak of the Maverick era in Division 3, it is the Hollywood-Berta Maverick. Hollywood was the most popular cigarette brand in Brazil in the 70s and 80s and it had a very strong appeal among the youngsters.
Hollywood had a very active race team with many cars in different classes. In 1973 it was one of the teams that replaced the Opala with a brand new Maverick GT.
For the next year they decided to build the ultimate racing machine, taking full advantage of the lack of restrictions the class offered.
The team took the car to Orestes “The Wizard “ Berta, an internationally recognized race car builder in Argentina. What Berta created resembles a Maverick but little of it was kept at the end
The awkward front suspension was replaced by a double aluminum “A” arms, and at the rear the leaf springs were replaced by a coil set up. For a better weight distribution, engine and transmission were relocated lower on the body and 30 cm towards the back, well into the cabin.
The small block received a pair of Gurney Eagle aluminum heads topped with 4 Weber 48 IDA carbs. All the aerodynamic stuff around the car was said to be effective. To complete the combo, massive wheels and tires were installed
On its first race, the Berta-Holywood Maverick set a new record at the Cascavel race track but it was on the second race that the car really showed its potential. It was a very traditional endurance race: The 500 Kilometers of Sao Paulo.
It happened on the external track of Interlagos, avoiding most of the internal turns, so the cars could get a much higher average speed, saving the equipment like brakes, clutch, transmission and tires. The performance of the car was flawless , it was so superior that at the end, when the Hollywood-Berta Maverick completed the 500 Kilometers, the second place, a Chevy Opala, was 8 laps behind.
The first 10 cars to finish the race can give a good picture of the Division 3
- Berta Maverick
- Chevy Opala
- Chevy Opala
- VW Brasilia
- Ford Maverick
- VW Beetle
- Ford Maverick
- VW Beetle
- Dodge Charger
- Alfa Romeo
I know how much you guys love the A-Body, so, here it is, the 9th place finisher.
After Hollywood ended it’s racing team in 1976, the Maverick was sold to some private drivers until it was retired and kept in a storage for decades until it was found by a classic car collector and restored to its original glory.
Indeed, what a coincidence!
I saw a vomit green coupe just like in the advertisement a couple of days ago on the street in Rio de Janeiro. The sight was jarring because I never thought I would ever see one again after I moved back to Germany in 2006.
I wanted to take photos, but the driver seemed to thrive on its garguntan power and slipped through the traffic too quickly.
Thanks for a great story! I visit Brazil every January and always marvel at the local variants of international car brands and models. Here in Australia it was similar, but different again. We never got the Maverick but I have seen well restored versions in Rio and even Salvador. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve seen a couple of Mavericks around Geelong. Notably smaller than the XA Falcon, they would have been an awkward fit in Ford Australia’s product range, so it’s not surprising we didn’t get them.
In the car meet at the top of the page,
(photo #2) what is the off-white car
still on the flat bed? Clearly this is a
Maverick meet but the car on the flat
bed has different shaped b/c window.
That Maverick belongs to my ex boss and owner of Powertech (I wrote a post about the place) It is one of the first PRO MOD cars built in Brazil. The weird window shape is because the roof was chopped. You can find some videos on YouTube under the name “Tubarao Branco Maverick “
There are a surprising number of Mavericks in New Zealand though it was never officially sold here a lot of them are V8s I now wonder just where they came from I havent seen one in the metal for a while and will be taking an interest when next I do, our quick Fords came from Australia and Capris from UK we had Holdens instead of Opalas and Aussie Valiants from Mopar, the same as Brazil but different great article.
I love reading of the second lives these cars and engines gain in Latin American, Middle Eastern and African markets.
Thanks for going through all the work to put this together.
Wait an african Maverick cool that means Mad Max Style travel in 1920’s style Egypt
Well, the 6-cylinder from the Opala was called the “6 mugs”, or In Camões’ language, the 6 caneco – typo intended. (I’m from Europe but I used to read some Brazilian blogs)
Editor timed out…
BTW, wasn’t there a Quadjet version of the Maverick 302?
Don’t know about Brazil, but here only certain 429’s in Mustang’s only, had the Quadrajet.
I read about the 302 Quadrajet in a Brazilian blog which liked to add some humor. But then I googled it and got quite a few results.
That being true, it would be quite a nice upgrade for American 302’s
The famous “Quadrajet” version was nothing more than an “off the shelf” performance package sold and installed by the dealers, consisting by four barrel carb, aluminum intake manifold and camshaft. Not an actual production car.
Thanks Rubens. The most funny Opala vs Maverick joke I’ve ever read was “The Opala challenges the laws of maths, as it proves that 6 is equal or bigger than 8.” (comparing 6 caneco to 302. I’d take the latter).
Anyways, nice to have a fellow Potuguese-speaking writer on CC 🙂
Thanks!!!! There is a performance parts brand dedicated to the many American in line 6, ” Clifford ” and its logo says “6=8”
6 mugs is the most popular nickname for the Chevy 250 but you may find ” 6 pipes” or “6 mouths” as well.
Great write-up! I love learning about these cars, the racing and the Brazilian market.
Every time I see and Opala I cringe because I think that car should have been available in the U.S. as a Chevrolet, slotted below the Nova. FoMoCo should have given us the Taunus too… Had those cars been built stateside starting in the early 1970s, the Japanese might have had a far tougher time gaining market share.
I’m surprised Ford didn’t put the 2.3 in the Maverick in the US, especially the sedan since they lacked a four-cylinder four-door after Gas Crunch I.
Maybe they were afraid it would steal Pinto sales, or there wasn’t enough production to cover both. At any rate, when the Fairmont was introduced as the Maverick’s successor in ’78, the Lima Four (which I assume is what the author was referring to) was its base engine. Lima Ohio, not Peru!
Our Maverick with the 5 mph bumpers was too heavy for the 2.3. Plus AMC, Chevy, and Chrysler did not offer 4 cylinders in compacts so Ford probably saw no reason too either. Only way to make the Four work would be with the 4-speed and Ford was not going to spend the development dollars to adapt the Pinto/Mustang II 4-speed to the Maverick. Beside’s, with a stick the base 200 got ok fuel mileage. In 76, a 4dr so equipped (on higher rolling resistance bias ply tires) got 26.5 mpg. I doubt if the 2.3 could have improved much on that.
GM had offered a 151 cu in Iron Duke I4 engine only in the 1977-79 Nova clone (which Chevy nor Oldsmobile Omega and Buick Apollo/Skylark didn’t offered a 4 cylinder option) the 1977-79 Pontiac Ventura/Phoenix models though.
Same here. After all these years, the thought had never occurred to me until today and reading this write-up.
For the old Itamaraty, I spotted this photo at http://motoburg.com/imgs/7388-willys-itamaraty-02.jpg.html showing a prototype or clay model with a big front facelift hoping they would had kept for 1972 and beyond. http://motoburg.com/imgs/7388-willys-itamaraty-02.jpg.html
Besides Quatro Rodas, wasn’t another car magazine in Brazil named “Auto Esporte”?
If the Mercosur had arrived3 decades earlier, I wonder if Brazil would had been flooded with Argentinian Ika/Renault Torino and Dodge GTX and Argentina flooded with Chevrolet Opala, Ford Corcel and Dodge Dart? 😉
The facelift is no improvement IMNSHO.
For sure! Although our brothers from Argentina were presented with a better and wider range of cars and with more brands than us. I’m sure that the scenario of Peugeot, Citroën and Renault coming to Brazil would be terrifying for GMB and VWB hegemony… However the Fairmont V8, and Taunus would have helped Ford here.
I’m surprised it wasn’t “suggested” that Toyota, not VW, buy up the Chrysler Brazil facilities where they could build cars instead of just the Land Cruiser Bandeirante, given that VW built Dodges for a few years (just until the parts ran out?) and used the capacity to build more VWs.
The only reason VW bought the Brazilian Chrysler was the truck assembly line.
Quite the skinny Mercury.
Keep this stuff coming, Rubens! The Brazilian manufacturers did some pretty cool things with sometimes ancient underpinnings. I’m still floored that Ford used the Y-Block for so long. I’m even more floored that they continued to use an old Willys six when Ford of America had a decent six of their own all along. And I had no idea that the ’65 Galaxie had a second life in Brazil!
On a related note, Hot Wheels has been reproducing some of these Brazilian cars over the last few years, like the Opala, Charger (A-Body), Brazilia, and SP2.
That’s right and I’ve got one already… a friend of mine gave this Charger!!! Merry Christmas!!!
That was a great detailed history of a car that I briefly glimpsed in Brazil years ago. Have you by chance seen this Maverick GT that I spotted in São Paulo in around 2008?
I’ve been in so many classic/hot rod meetings in Brazil, either for pleasure or for work that is very possible I passed by that Maverick. Nice looking car.
fantastic article from an alternate universe where fords and jeeps intermarry!
Alternative indeed: Ford had a hand in the Jeep’s gestation:
If FCA ever goes belly-up, Ford could make hay of that if they inherit the brand.
Well as someone who has owned 28 Maverick’s and Comet’s, obviously I’m a fan. I still own 7, including the first I bought back in 83. It is interesting to hear the different perception of the car elsewhere. Here they were strictly economy jobs, even the 302’s. And the 2.3 OHC here would never have flown. The vast majority ( 65.87% were 250’s by 76 with an additional 8804 200/auto ones) were six cylinder powered. And almost all automatics. But I like ’em, thats all that counts. On the group photo at top, the blue/white 2dr is the exact tu-tone combo my 71 4dr is.
Guy, I had no idea you were such a Maverick fan! Having never met a passionate Maverick fan, I’m curious what your thoughts are on the US Granada?
I like Granada’s. Basically a luxury Maverick. Nothing wrong with that. They did what they were designed to do. I’d have one or two if I could find them for the right price.
I’m really enjoying this look at Brazil; as Safe-As-Milk says above, it’s a glimpse into an alternate universe and I really like a lot of what I see. I am puzzled about the strange combination of continent-jumping on some things and seeming total lack of communication on others. GM could have brought that beautiful Opala to the U.S. -and federalized it for a lot less than the Vega cost them; if Ford brought the U.S. V-8 to Brazil, why not their 6?
Oh, and a question please: In the U.S., Ford and GM use SAE bolts while everyone else uses Metric bolts – is it the same in Brazil, so that everybody has to have two sets of wrenches in their garage, or did GM and Ford have the sense to go metric for domestically designed and built cars?
Finally, I have always been sort of a fan of the Maverick – it’s not a true beauty, but I have always thought of it as the real ‘Mustang II’ rather than the dwarf we got in the U.S.
I experienced that maddening SAE/metric dichotomy with my Escort. In Ford’s defense it at least suggests a willingness to use existing foreign bits instead of Reinventing The Wheel as GM usually did back then.
I still use the 10mm wrench I bought for my Escort on my Honda’s battery bolts. Strangely enough, I’ve found some bolt heads on our recent Japanese cars which fit SAE sizes best; maybe that’s due to US-sourced parts?
I heard NASA had a hard time going metric because American aerospace machinists are used to thinking in .001″. In my line of work, with degreed people who know S.I. units, I still run into traditional a lot.
There were very high tariffs in Latin-American countries for imported components.
The importation of the 302 was justified by it’s much higher selling price. A similar tariff levied upon an imported 200 would have made it unaffordable to many other buyers. The Willys six tooling was already in place, and local.
By the time the 2.3 was on-line, there was no longer a need for the six.
Yep, both DIN metric and SAE systems are standards in Brazil and you must have two sets of each tools to handle anything here 😀
As Ford still has a V8 plant in Windsor, Ontario, it’s unsurprising Brazilians believed the 302 came from there, esp. since the 302 itself is also called “Windsor,” in the tradition of Ford engines being named after their places of manufacture. I used to assume “Windsor” only referred to the mainstream 351 vs. the “go-faster” Cleveland 351.
As a huge Maverick fan myself, I have been aware of the Brazilian V8 Maverick GT for many years. I was not, however, aware that they put that ancient Willys 6 in it. Learn something new everyday. Great article, thanks!
South America, where old American car models go to be reborn and live a second life.
I always enjoy these peeks into the south of the border alternate universe, where A-Body Darts have buttresses and a Rambler American(IKA Torino), or Mavericks are revered with the same kind of enthusiasm US muscle cars get. I always liked the styling of the Maverick, and as I grew up and learned how much of a penalty box they were it kind of killed their image for me, so it heartens me to see somewhere in the world they get respect, and given the weight a regular old 302 sans smog crap they would be pretty fun I imagine.
I really like the look of the revised taillights. At first I thought they were custom and sourced from a 71 Mustang but upon closer inspection they actually appear to be an original design. Beats the hell out of Pinto taillights!
Thanks for the great article; this was a pleasure to read. I knew that Mavericks were popular in Brazil, but my knowledge stopped there, so this filled in quite a few questions that I had.
I also found it interesting to learn of the Itamaraty’s name origin — it’s one of those names that just seemed a little different. Speaking of names, I’m surprised that Ford did not re-name the Maverick for non-US markets — the word “maverick” itself was an unintentional contribution to the English language by Texas cattle rancher Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. After a while, unbranded (usually wild) cattle became to be known as mavericks. I don’t know if the name or meaning translates well into Portuguese, but it appears that the longhorn cattle logo used on the American cars did not make to Brazil.
Something to do with the symbolism of horns representing a man whose wife had cheated on him.
There is an interesting joke about it: Dearborn was actually concerned about the name Maverick to be too complicated for the Portuguese speakers and suggested the car could be renamed Pinto. The Brazilian CEOS had then an embarrassing moment trying to explain Pinto is a slang in Brazil meaning “dick”.
And, being Portuguese a language with humor tendencies, every time a Willys-powered Pinto would trouble climbing up a hill, what would come out of people’s voices would NOT be good…
The Mexican Maverick, while more in line with the US version, was V8 only.
It was the only locally sourced & hence, free of tariffs, engine Ford had there,
I saw it too, sometimes we wonder if in an parralel universe/alternate universe, the 2-door Maverick was slated to be a more “sportier” version of the Falcon, like the Duster was the sportier version of the Valiant and the 4-door Maverick continue to use the Falcon nameplate? 😉
There was also a Venezuelan version, which was yet again unlike the US, Mexico or Brazil versions. Note that this “1974” actually has the 1973 US style bumpers, and is devoid of headrests and 3-point belts.
Interesting story. I knew bits and pieces of it, but I had no idea Ford kept using the Willys F-head six for so long.
The Taunus alternative is an intriguing possibility. Obviously, with a fairly short time, there would be more powerful versions of the Köln V-6 — the Capri RS2600 had 150 PS with Kugelfischer injection. And the related Mk3 Cortina had the Essex V-6 that went up to 2,994cc. (Talk about alternate universes: a Brazilian TC Taunus with an English Ford engine.) That wouldn’t have solved the local production issue, though.
Actually, it was not the Taunus TC (70-74) but rather the P7b model (68-71) that was contemplated as a mid-size car for the local market. It was a direct competitor to the Opel Rekord (alias Chevrolet Opala) but production costs and lack of a suitable engine put an end to the project. The Taunus was smaller, about the same size as the best selling Ford Corcel (alias Renault R12), so no need for it. One should remember that until 1966 all German Fords were known as Taunus (Taunuses?), hence the confusion between the TC and the P7b. The Maverick was cheaper to build, could use the old Willys F-head engine and had that big car, Mustang-like, design: should be a sensible choice. However, quality of assembling, engine power and inside room were not comparable to the Opala’ s, crippling any chance of success.
I’m surprised then Ford do Brasil didn’t toyed with the idea of using the 1966-70 Falcon since it was close to the size of the Dodge Dart or even the Argentinian Falcon based on the 1960 body as an stop-gap move until a proper launch of the Maverick
Ford of Brazil did try to import the Argentinian Falcon for challenging the Chevrolet Opala. It was a good, comfortable and dependable car, albeit somewhat outmoded looking. Also, they contemplated buying its 6-cylinder engine (221 c.i.) to power the Maverick. High import duties (200%) and a maze of bureaucratic rules killed both plans. One wonders whether the Argentinian branch would have the capacity to supply the much larger Brazilian market.
Taking only the styling into account, and especially considering that I thought the Maverick somewhat frumpy in its USA days, I see in the illustrated Taunus a committee-designed conglomeration of design ideas that clash with each other, resulting in an awkward, blocky and unstylish mish-mash. It does feel “Teutonic” in an bluff, unpleasant way, while the Maverick has a feeling of grace, especially the two-door, even at this distant date.
You’re right, I used to see many of that Taunus side by side with Opalas in a border city of Foz do Iguaçu-BR and Puerto Iguazu – AR as well in Brazilian beaches where many friends from Argentina used to go and I can say without hesitation: the Opala is nicer than Taunus and the Maverick is sportier and more impressive than both of them. Regardless the smaller room space of the Maveko, what really spoiled its career was the bad engines combined with the stratospheric prices of Fords. Even with the avarice of Ford, people still keep buying it by passion longer than Ford deserved.
It would had been cool if someone had taken some photos of Brazilians Opalas and Argentinian Taunus side by side along with some Darts, GTXs, Torinos, Mavericks, Taunus, Falcon and Corcel.
That was a great piece with plenty of cars/versions I hadn’t seen before. Really enjoyed.
In Venezuela the locally built Maverick was lauched first as a two-door, and later the four-door. I don’t know when it became exclusively four-door, but all big-bumper Mavericks were four-door and all came with the Ford straight six. The big-bumper Mavericks had the Ford 250 and automatic as the only powertrain combination. I don´t know if the earlier two-doors came with the smaller six. Mavericks in Venezuela competed with the Chevrolet Nova and Dodge Dart, all locally assembled. They were very basic cars, with vinyl bench seats, no headrests, no metallic paint, AM radio, hub caps, automatic only, etc. Only the Dart had a V8 (the 318) as standard, and an extra fancy “Special Edition” versión with vinyl top, velour seats, etc.
As for the Maverick, when I was growing up, my grandma drove a 1976, big-bumper four-door. It was ivory color and had the dog-dish hub caps that read “Ford Motor Company” on their circumference. My grandma drove it very little, as grandmas often do, so it was pristine with an almost showroom look for the interior. At the beginning it had manual steering with about 6 turns lock to lock. I don´t know if it was the only choice in 1976, or if power steering was an option. In any case, my family was always puzzled as to why she chose a car with such heavy steering. A few years later she had it replaced with a power steering system, maybe from a 1977 Maverick. When I was finally old enough to drive, the car was about 13 hears old and had only about 50k miles. At that time my grandma passed away, so the car was in my household for a few months and I got to drive it often. It was very slow and the handling was dull, but it felt quite tight for such an old car. The problem was that the power steering they adapted to it had a tremendous amount of slack. It never felt like you were steering the car, but rather just giving it vague suggestions about changing its heading. Oh, I forgot to mention that it also had manual brakes, but they were ok, I never felt like they were too heavy or bad, maybe because the car didn’t really inspire any kind of swift driving. Oh well, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Maverick; lots of good memories for such a simple, humble car.
That third image, with the charcoal grey pro-touring Maverick, shows a very beautiful car. I love all that has been done to it, it looks amazing. At first i was wondering where those taillights came from, as they don’t look like any Maverick taillights that I’ve seen in the US. Found out about the refresh with the new taillights later in the life of the Brazil Maverick.
Thank you for sharing this history of the Brazilian Mav.
Well, my brother in law will be proud. Thanks.
That “Brazilian Mav” in the lead pic looks like our “71” model. It was a “302”. Too light in back, come winter time. (cue the sand bags)
The seat ,position holder, would never stay locked in place, rolled in seat tracks when accelerating/slowing. “Grrr”.
Great article; just one correction. The Ford Consul/Granada was the direct competitor to the Opel Rekord/Commodore.
The earlier “big” Taunus had been, before Ford Europe unified their German and UK lines.