Curbside Classic: 1973 Ford Maverick – Taking A Gapp Year

As someone who will be celebrating his seventeenth thirtieth birthday this year, it’s a gut punch to think that somewhere, floating in some dimension over half a life ago, are my college years.  This is not a tale of “newfound freedom” or “education” or anything so banal; it is a tale of Mavericks.  Like many young adults in that transitional time in their lives, I had to examine who I was and what I wanted to be; and like many who try on different personas, I debated whether or not I was a Maverick man.  It was a short-lived phase, but one that was formative to the man I became, and I find myself looking back fondly on those “Maverick months.”

It was 1996.  The internet was in its dial-up infancy, and the familiar buzzes and bings had a Pavlovian effect on my impressionable youth.  Therefore, when my parents were gone to work and I had an open day from class, I would steal upstairs to the family desktop and log in to our AOL account for some nefarious browsing.  Day after day I found myself searching for websites about 1970s Mavericks and Comets.  To this day, I haven’t told anyone this story, but I came very close to becoming a Maverick addict.

In fact, I still can’t look at the brochure for the 1973 models without feeling a pang of anxiety, wondering if someone would come home and find me debating whether I liked the Grabber stripe package on the 1971 or 1973 model better.

One thing I never considered, even in that heightened state, was the possibility of buying a four-door Maverick.  Back then, a little less confident in myself than I am today, I felt that the proportions weren’t quite right and that even a man in the throes of learning had to have some shame.  I couldn’t turn my parents’ computer room into a den of iniquity; I was already pushing some boundaries that would have been unheard of even months before.

Nevertheless, exactly when my dalliance with Ford’s “first-to-the ’70s” compact ended is lost to the vagaries of time, but this Maverick stirred those memories last September in a car show parking lot.  Parked with the windows down, the Maverick invited me to snap a few quick pictures while dodging traffic.  Standing nearby were my wife and parents, and I had to hide some of those illicit feelings that had bubbled forth from the hidden springs of my youth.  In fact, I felt more than a little concern for this car’s absent owner.  Had they become victims of solitary internet searches?  Was an intervention in order?  Was another person ruined by young lust?

Not a chance.  This Maverick is the perfect daily-driver old car.  It’s in great “well-used” shape and has a nice, familiar Maverick interior – ’70s approved with the controls centered around the driver in front of a slippery vinyl bench seat with no rips or tears.  The drink caddy and fountain drinks could belong to a teenage couple or a couple of 40-year-olds.  I don’t even think this one has a radio, but the underdash gauges give me a sense of kinship with the owner.  They obviously know enough about engines to care what they’re up to, and they drive the car enough not to care what people think about underdash gauges.

Another fun fact about Maverick sedans has not escaped this owner’s internet research (see the bumper sticker in the rear window): The famous Pro Stock racing duo of Gapp and Roush campaigned a Maverick sedan named the “Tijuana Taxi” in the 1970s, a time when racers were trying out Vegas, Colts, Pintos, Dusters, and Mavericks in an attempt to better their speedy competition.  It made for some interesting combinations.

Who knows, maybe someday, the owner of our featured Maverick will take their addiction to the next level and create a screaming, Cleveland-powered tribute to this transitional time in drag racing history.  But I hope not.

It’s too perfect as a driver as it is, and I hope the owner is proud to have it.  College teaches a person many things, and most of those things are unrelated to majors and minors.  Like most schooling, college is simply a funnel into adulthood, teaching students how to socialize and interact with others at least well enough to hold down a job somewhere.  Whether this Maverick owner went to college or not is impossible to determine, but it’s possible that a covert internet dalliance led them down a path I avoided.  At least for now.