Regarding the quote in the title: it was too long to put the whole thing up there, but here’s the full opening sentence from R&T’s review of the new Maverick: “Seriously now, if the Ford Motor Company really thinks that their new Maverick is going to instantly render the imported economy sedan unnecessary for the American driver, they’ve got to be out of their minds.” Of course they were absolutely right, R&T, that is, as the Maverick had effectively zero impact on the imports, whose market share increased strongly during the Maverick’s great first extended model year (1970: 579k sales).
So where did all those sales come from? And more to the point here, what was it like to drive? Note: I had a lot of seat time in these, as I was a car jockey at a Ford dealer at the time. So my own impressions are going to only amplify R&T’s.
R&T points out that other than relatively peppy performance with the optional 200 CID six, “it has almost none of the virtues that are common to the best of the economy imports available to the U.S. buyer.”
The first thing was its styling, which of course was very American, with that “fat-hipped look” that was the hot new thing. In my CC of the Maverick, I called it “a recycled Falcon in hip-hugger bell-bottoms”, or something lie that. Of course the tiny tires hiding under those large bulging fenders didn’t exactly help, even if they were the optional 6.45 – 14 tires instead of the really pathetic 6.00 – 13s that were standard. And which made the Maverick look really bad.
“The first thing you will notice on getting into the Maverick is how bad the front bench seat is“. True that; a dreadful slab of a thing, that drops you down low into the dreary dark interior of these caves. Lee Iaccoca was determined not to repeat the mistake of the 1960 Falcon, by making the Maverick look stylish; in essence it was a low-end Mustang. But it would have greatly benefited from the original Mustang’s bucket seats and floor shift for the manual three-speed, as that (not tested here) had a miserable column shifter. Did Ford think that Maverick buyers were really going to be having three adults sit in that narrow front bench seat? They really were out of their minds, given that essentially every import sedan had buckets and a floor shift.
It all added up to a big mistake: reinforcing the idea that cheap American cars have to be drab and uncomfortable. That’s precisely what appealed about imports, going back to the ’50s: they were cheerful, with nicely trimmed interiors and exterior trim and such.
The optional 120 (gross) hp 200 CID (3.3 L) six was teamed with the optional three-speed automatic, a very recommendable upgrade over the base 170 six and three-on-the-tree, which only reinforced that drab, uncomfortable, crude image of cheap American cars. The 200 six was of course much bigger than anything in imports, and it ran and pulled well enough. R&T must have gotten a good one, because found most of the ones that came off the transporters to be pretty mediocre-running, but then I was a 17 at the time, and my standards were a bit higher. It was pedal-to-the-metal pretty much all the time.
R&T car did the 0-60 in 14.5 seconds, which was pretty decent for a six cylinder American cars, although not really outstanding either. The 302 V8 came along in the winter of 1969-1970, and I had a lot of fun with the first one that showed up at Towson Ford.
So much for the good stuff. The steering was abysmally slow, with 5.2 turns lock-to-lock. This utterly destroyed any sense of genuine pleasure in piloting a Maverick, most especially so in comparison to all those imports with their quick, accurate and light steering. “...far clumsier than it should be and light years behind its imported competitors.” And likely quicker power steering was not even available, at the time, anyway. Eventually it had to be offered.
Not surprisingly, the all-drum brakes weren’t much better either.
The Maverick hung on well enough in fast bends. Plenty of understeer to keep things predictable in quick corners, if one’s hands were able to keep up with the slow steering. When I was driving these, the new 1971 Pinto was already out, and in comparison to that, the Maverick felt really dull, slow and clumsy on the winding road I was able to take all the 1971 Fords on between the showroom and the remote body shop. The Pinto, especially the early ones with the 2.0 four and stick shift, was a veritable sports car in comparison.
The ride was of course”smooth and soft. The shock absorbers were watery on rebound and with four people in the car it tends to bottom over even moderate-sized dips and bumps.”
“The driving position, because of the poor bench seat, is back-breaking but the optional individual seats would no doubt help in that respect.” Yes, as already previously mentioned. Visibility was deemed “poor” because of both the crappy seating position and the high hood line as well as the small rear windows. The trunk was small, pony-car sized. Again, the imports were held up for their better space utilization.
Another failing versus the imports was economy, as the six and automatic were thirsty. Average fuel consumption was a mediocre 20.5 mpg.
The Maverick in essence was of course a smaller American car, but with few if any of the advantages of that smaller size. It was essentially a 1960 Falcon, but with less interior room, or a 1965 Mustang without its charms and nice interior. “Compared to the leading import economy sedans, it isn’t even in the same ballpark in such things as agility, braking, handling and fuel economy.”
So who was buying all those Mavericks? The US economy was heading down in 1969, and that clearly was a factor. Imports and compacts were booming. The Maverick rode that wave, and undoubtedly like the 1960 Falcon, cannibalized some of those sales from the big Fords, which were down over 160k in 1970, as well as the Mustang, which was down over 110k in that year.
R&T assumed that it was essentially similar to the 1960 Falcon, in that its sales boomlet was by folks who didn’t really care much about the dynamic qualities and just wanted a cheap American car, no matter how dull. True that.
My CC on the Maverick:
Curbside Classic: Ford Maverick – The Simple(ton) Machine
Not so much from the imports. VW had its best year ever in the USA in ’70, selling 500,000 Beetles.
Japanese cars were making inroads by then, too. Toyota and Datsun vehicles were rapidly improving, establishing a reputation for quality.
Notably, 1970 was the last year that English Fords were sold in the USA. By then, the Cortina was the sole offering, and it couldn’t compete on size and price with the Maverick, and there were quality issues.
The Maverick probably cannibalized sales from larger, low-end Ford cars.The 701/2 Falcon, a de-contented Torino, comes to mind.Also, Mustang sales crashed in ’70. Could this have been, related to Maverick sales?,
We had a neighbor who bought one. It was an ok car, but not outstanding. By the mid-1970’s, it was not competitive with the better Japanese cars. They gradually built larger cars that were fielded by then. By the time thst the Maverick was discontinued at the end of the ’77 model year, it was obsolete.
It sold well in its first few years, as it was the right car at the right time. The Pinto sold well for the same reason.
I had a used ’73, in that bright blue which seemed to be on every other Maverick. It replaced a 1969 Cutlass 350 which I had loved. The Maverick I hated, for all the reasons described in the article. I had no say, though; because I was in college and drove what the family passed down. I considered myself lucky to have paid-for wheels of any kind.
Upon graduation I bought myself a new ’79 Vette in an attempt to purge the Maverick experience. Being the depth of the malaise Vettes it was nothing special, but at least it looked good and was light years ahead of the Maverick performance wise; although that was a low bar. In 1986 I bought a Civic Si and never looked back at Detroit’s wares.
A 1970 Maverick w/ the 200 and manual trans was our family’s first 2nd car, beating out a 4-door ’68 Thunderbird, a box-shape Volvo, and what else I don’t recall. It was used with low miles. Depressingly cheap and dreary, so much so that it’s colored my impression of Fords ever since.
Its successor was a ’69 Cutlass S with around 120,000 miles and a low price. Light years better car than the Maverick.
So your experience was somewhat the reverse of mine. Come to think of it, my ’69 Cutlass was an S also! I would have preferred a three on the tree in the maverick.
I’m not at all surprised the Cutlass was a better car all around but it’s not even in the same class as the maverick. The Maverick was a compact, economy car built to a price while the Cutlass was one of GMs premier mid-sized cars that had been around since 1964 (in mid-sized form, body on frame) and they had several years to refine it so that the generation 1968-1972 were extremely nice cars.
All true. But still at the time, a used Cutlass with over 100,000 miles cost less and was a better car than a Maverick with 30,000 miles.
Alan, I’m thinking that a COAL series, or even just a single post, of what went through your mind as you went from a ’69 350 Cutlass -to- a ’73 Maverick, -to- a ’79 Corvette -to- a ’86 Civic Si would make for enjoyable reading.
This sounds a lot like “History Of The [Automotive] World”, part 2.
Im guessing they drove much like a crossply tyred Falcon of that era from how the road test reads, imports were what VWs and Japanese products, well Japanese cars came in for lots of criticism for numb dead steering and poor handling VWs had very direct steering compared to most other efforts, Of course the Japanese improved their game eventually and Beetles went away and all of them used less fuel not that it mattered then petrol was cheap.
“…petrol was cheap.” Until1973, that is, when the OPEC nations turned off the oil tap because of American support for Israel in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War! Then you couldn’t give away big cars, when gasoline in the USA went from $0.30 per gallon to over $1.00 per gallon! I got my driver’s license in 1976, so I remember the lines around the block at every gas station, with fillips only allowed on odd or even days, depending on the last digit of your license plate number, and colored flags to denote a gas station’s fuel state! A Green flag meant that the station had gas for everyone, a Yellow flag meant that the station was running low, and would only sell gas to emergency vehicles (police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks and DPW). A Red flag meant “no gas here, we’re all out”!
It is interesting that the test makes nary a mention of the Falcon, in time-honored journalistic method of writing about the many improvements of the new model vs. last year’s (after leaving the impression last year that it had been wonderful). I spent wheeltime in a very late (early 70) Falcon and also in a relatively early (72) Maverick. The Falcon felt almost luxurious in that comparison.
This makes me think of an alternative history where Ford never built the Maverick, but kept making improvements to the Falcon line the way Chrysler and GM did with their respective A and X body cars. Some modest upgrades to the dash and interior of the Falcon would have allowed the well-amortized car to sell quite inexpensively, and it would have been a better alternative to the Valiant/Nova than the Maverick was.
Be interesting to see a review of how it compared to the Valiant (and Nova). My bias suggests a Valiant would be better (certainly in the visibility department).
The Mopar was a better car in every way possible (in my opinion).
Not just your opinion, mine also! Probably also the opinion of anyone with an IQ that exceeds room temperature, LOL!
“It is interesting that the test makes nary a mention of the Falcon, in time-honored journalistic method of writing about the many improvements of the new model vs. last year’s (after leaving the impression last year that it had been wonderful).”
Haha, yes. Every review of any generation of Jeep Wrangler, Porsche 911, and Chevy Corvette always includes (via copy and paste of the last “all-new” test of whichever of these vehicles it was) definitive praise for finally making it perfectly livable on the public road as compared to the oxcart that it just replaced, finally completely taming any semblance of lift-throttle oversteer compared to the deathtrap it replaced, and finally removing all traces of the prior model’s simply unacceptable constant and numerous creaks and rattles, respectively, leaving the reader to scramble for the prior version’s test and verify that the exact same things were said before. And before. And before…But you still won’t read about the inseam measurement used for the front seat setting when the tester declares the back seat roomy and spacious with plenty of legroom. 🙂
That always amused me in Mustang reviews, each refresh since the SN95 reviewers note the rich new dash has replaced the previous too plasticy dash.
That bring another point. Why Ford didn’t shipped the Falcon tooling to Brazil back then? It would have fit the Brazilian line-up better than the Maverick between the Corcel and the local Galaxie.
To think then Argentina menaged to build the original Falcon to the early 1990s and Ford Australia menaged to keep the 1966 Falcon body known as Falcon XY until 1972 with a luxury variant named…Fairmont.
I wonder why the Maverick, which R/T did not like, was photographed with two high quality airplanes – Beechcraft Duke and Stinson Reliant. To get their message across the Maverick could have been parked near something much more plebian.
Yeah but you’re an airplane guy. To most, perhaps including the photographer, those are just small, cramped, noisy, and devoid of the luxuries of a passenger bus, er, jet.
Jim – There’s a Venn diagram that would show a big section of people who are both airplane and car fans. A lot of airplane people seem to be here too. As a youngster I read both R/T and Flying magazines so I’m in that section of the Venn. I’d have put that Maverick near a Piper Tri-Pacer or an Ercoupe – planes with both limited ability and comfort.
The Maverick was an analogue of the Fairchild PT-19, that is, the one with two open cockpits.
Chrysler expended this effort to trash the Maverick, in a video many of you have probably seen already. 1970 Duster vs. 1970 Maverick.
I think it would have been more effective had it been an actual film as opposed to a sequence of stills. They called the Maverick “stubby”.
The Maverick was a tidy size of a car, but we were not ready yet for such a downsized ride. Dusters and Novas were more of the ilk people wanted then.
While I’m sold – give me the Duster!
i had 2 mavericks and a 72 duster. mopar better all around. 3 on the floor slant 6. loved that car. sold it to a freind who drove it to san diago. he was inthe navy sub service. after deployment he returned to the parking lot. car was on blocks, stripped of everything.
And here another video, featuring this time, 1971 models.
“Hey, she’s cute. Looks barely old enough to drive.”
-1971 Sales Dude
“The plaid bench seats are as colorful as they are uncomfortable”
Granted the 200 six and 3 speed automatic transmission was more peppy than the gutless 144 six and 2 speed auto tranny powertrain in my 1960 Falcon; but a less comfortable car than the Falcon the Maverick was based on in every other way possible.
In terms of styling alone, I have always liked the looks of the 1970-1972 Maverick two door. It’s a good looking car to me. I never drove one even though my grandmother had a 1970 for years (before I got my driver license) and she loved it. Of course, she was an older lady as a grandmother and those types usually don’t have as many complaints about performance as the young bucks do.
A bit over $19k inflation adjusted. Anyone know how much off sticker these typically sold for?
Probably close to sticker in its first year, given the huge demand. Generally cars weren’t discounted as heavily as they would be in later decades.
Dealer cost was $1648. Most options, I have the list, were 10% dealer cost under their MSRP., Including 2% holdback. So there wasn’t a lot of profit to discount from
Given the equipment, Maverick must’ve been built to a pretty firm target price, no?
I remember seeing that red car with “Maverick – $1995” everywhere – on billboards, most memorably. (They had a similar format with tan Pintos at $1899 the next fall.)
Considering the high production numbers of the Maverick, I’ve often wondered, where did they all go?? The survival rate was dismal
Good point! I think because they were cheap, economy cars to begin with, people drove them as such and drove them into the ground. Seeing a nice one at a local cars and coffee show is always a treat now.
I wonder how many used ones went on to short but eventful second careers as hot rods. When the Maverick came out, the buff books immediately noted that you could stuff in bigger engines and various Mustang bits to produce something lighter and faster than a Mustang or Torino. (A 351C engine and a load of Mustang heavy-duty parts in a two-year-old Maverick would have been formidable if crude.)
I have a few of these cars, but my nicest one has moved on to a new owner:
i had a couple of mavericks, cheap wheels while i was making my way. my 72 rusted bad in buffalo. one day on the ny thruway i heard popping sounds from the front end. control was getting bad. i got off an exit, drove to a junkyard. left the car there, took off the plates and took the bus home.
There were a decent number of them here ten or so years ago, but since then they’ve all gone AWOL.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that most of them were devoured by road salt here in New England, or pretty much anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, for that matter!
Not as popular for ‘hot rodding’ or with teens/20s as many used Mustangs or Torinos that were still cheap to get in 70s/80s. And of course, beat out by Nova/Dart/Duster. Not all high selling cars were ‘saved’ in a barn.
They had an “old folks’ and ‘cheapskate’ image. Car for a middle aged teacher or custodian at a school. One of my 8th grade teachers had a 1970, then got a 1977, new.
Now, younger car fans see them as small RWD car with room for a v8 and then want to buy one for a resto-mod. A little late, though.
A friend’s parents had a Maverick, which I remember driving once in maybe 1976. The most overwhelming memory was the poor visibility over the steering wheel, dash and hood, probably exacerbated by an already sagged-out bench seat. Tall gearing required careful clutch action to start on a steep grade, the three-on-the-tree was sloppy, etc etc. Compared to my sister’s Cortina it was awful.
I took my driver’s test in Mom’s example in 1976, and my Dad had brackets made to raise the bench seat and move it forward, so I could drive it without putting pillows behind my back and under my butt (I was all of 4’11” tall at the time), LOL! It almost stopped my driver’s license road test dead in its tracks though. My Dad had an aftermarket AM-FM radio installed under the dash, in addition to the stock AM-only unit) so the combination of the raised seat and the radio left very little room for the examiner to get his foot over to the brakes, if necessary. He threatened to cancel my road test, until he saw the crestfallen look on my face, like a lost puppy, and took pity on me. He said: “Well, if you don’t mind a few mashed toes, I think I can do it” (cue the sun bursting through clouds and a choir of angels here)! I aced my road test, and as we came to the end of the test, he said: “Pull it over here.” I saw a fire hydrant, and suspecting a trap (I had been told that some examiners, to trap the unwary, would issue illegal commands, to see if the applicant would obey), replied: “But it’s fire hydrant, sir!” He said: “Don’t worry about it!”, and signed my “pink slip” temporary license on the spot! Success! Success!
Once went on a 700 mile road trip with a friend in his Maverick. Name was so appropriate. Everything was cheap and uncomfortable. Seats were low(legs straight out) with virtually no padding and no ability to adjust other than back and forward, rough ride even on interstate, no AC .with windows open so noisy could barely hear conversation or cheap one speaker AM radio! Could not wait to get home! 🐦CHEAP 🐦 CHEAP 🐦 CHEAP. What a🦃 turkey! 🤮.
This article should be Exhibit A as to why Ford was right to choose the Pinto over the Maverick as the starting point for the Mustang II. This is referencing the rack-and-pinion steering, responsiveness, and tossability of the early 2.0L Pintos with a manual.
I was thinking this as well. For all its other faults, the original Pinto was maybe the first U.S. Ford product that actually dispensed with the conventional wisdom that even small cars needed to ride like they came from the “extra soft” end of the mattress outlet store, with six turns of the wheel from lock to lock for minimal parking effort.
The problem with that is that the MII gained so much weight its handling ended up being mediocre at best. It got very poor marks for its handling in the reviews. It was not like the original Pinto anymore. But then the Pinto underwent the same transformation itself; only the early ones were really snappy handlers.
The Capri is what the MII should have been based on, if anything, but without the weight gain.
I had a 73 4 door Maverick with a 302 V8! I thought I was a badass. It would do 80 in a 1/4 mile I could get it to 120. Surprised I made it out of my teens
I really can’t think of any Ford prior to the debut in the mid 90’s of the Duratec V6 that I would want with anything less than a V8. The fours (2.3L OHC, the CVH family, the 2.3 OHV), the inline sixes, and the Vulcan V6 were all weak and unrefined, and the 3.8L V6 had its issues.
I had a well worn 1967 Mustang 200 CID 3 speed floor shift. I needed a reliable car for work and college. My summer job was relief manager at 5 Howard Johnson’s up and down Cape Cod. I went to school in NC. Being loyal to Warren- Faulk Ford in Bennettsville SC my Dad and I looked over the possibilities. The Maverick was the cheapest offering the 200 CID, automatic, an AM radio and a small console and some “bright work” $2395 plus tax and license. We also springing for a dealer installed dash mount a/c unit. It served me well as I drove the dog snot out of it. It was a copper tone with a black vinyl top. My Dad lost everything and gave up two Mark IIIs and was relegated to the Maverick for a while when enlisted in the Air Force in 1971. In December I got an incentive hop to Dobbins ARB Ga and caught a Trailways bus to Monroe NC where my Dad had resettled. I then drove the Maverick from Monroe to Sacramento CA in 2.5 days reaching epic speeds in the car. I lost 3 dog dish hubcaps along the way. I was one of the few E-3s with a car! In 1973 I traded her in for a new 1973 Dodge Challenger (318 V8 was all I could afford). I have to say the Maverick was a trusty stead. I got commissioned a few years later and was able to move up the car food chain. I look at the rare Maverick and smile.
Wonder Car My wife’s family had an Army green one of these when I met her. The only option it had was an AM radio so I am fairly certain it had the small six engine. Performance with three on the tree was acceptable at best. Her family bought it because they had to have a reliable and cheap second car for her father to use to commute to work. When I met her the car was over 10 years old. It had survived her father and three different daughters and never gave an significant trouble. While it had all the faults mentioned and I thought it was disgusting you really did not have to worry about it getting you from point A to point B. Because it was “The car that would not die” the family referred to it as the Wonder Car.
I had a 72 Maverick (my dad won it in a poker game) with the 170cid/3sp (on the tree) from 1975 to 1980. All in all it was basic transportation. My dad put radials on it for a better ride (and cornering). I put that car through hell and back. It was trashed and thrashed, but never gave up. After 275K miles and leaking oil from every cylinder (plus an orifice or two) I sold it for $200. The ONLY maintenance was oil changes, plugs and freeze out plugs. Not bad for a Ford.
Never a fan of these. Not much better than a Pinto, worse than a Duster, Valiant or Dart, worse than a Nova. Really, not a good car. I was surprised several months ago to read here that the Maverick had some kind of reliability going in its favor. That was really the first time I read anything positive about the Maverick.
My aunt had one and it was a very uninspiring car. By 1974 is had those tremendously huge bumpers on it, making what looked like a passable car into a really sad looking car. The original bumpers were nicely done, so those huge bumpers were not a good thing.
Bumper itself is big, but what really surprises me is how far out from the body of the car they were required to mount.
Wow, 53 years ago separate the Orange 1970 Ford Maverick Grabber 200 c.i.d, 3 speed auto, A/C equipped, that my Dad bought, from the present, but the memory of the “back-breaking”, “ball busting” front bench seat lives on as seemingly just experienced yesterday. Shortly after buying that Maverick, really not that bad of a commuter car, but with the worst front seat imaginable, my Dad just couldn’t face sitting in that front seat any longer than his few weeks of ownership.
After being told by the Ford dealer that there was nothing to do about the “vertical metal bar” in the left side of the seat back destroying his back’s composure short of using a recommended, but equally useless, aftermarket supplementary back cushion. First he tried to offer the “newer car” to my mother in place of her much loved 1965 200 cid six with auto, but she was quick to appreciate that her Mustang’s car’s seats were definitely the more comfortable, so no luck fooling her. Then he offered the woeful Maverick to my aunt, but she, like my mother, wasn’t fooled either (women do talk with each other, so I learned). Eventually he offered the now non-driven Maverick to me, abandoned to sit on the driveway, for free (my mother was the force behind that lesson), I accepted, but with the condition that I could/or would be able to sell /trade the car in. He was so frustrated with the seat discomfort of the Maverick, that it became mine, briefly, before it lead to my eventual trade for/purchase of an orphan Opel GT at the local Buick dealer…that’s another story.
My chastened Dad, having learned his lesson about comfort, then acquired a really beautiful, supremely comfortable, but not new, 1969 Olds Toronado, which he and my Mom dearly came to love. A lesson about comfort, and not saving a few dollars on a new car purchase was learned, orchestrated and co-ordinated by my Mom, it seemed.
So every time I hear the name Ford Maverick, I really remember that sad 1970 car that my Dad bought as having the worst, most uncomfortable car seats that we all ever experienced. Yes, a profound level of cheapness and discomfort ultimately sabotaging the ownership experience. I always pay attention to car seats for comfort before ever signing on the dotted-line of purchase. So I obviously learned a lesson too.
If there were justice in the world, the Falcon platform would have ENDED the Ford Motor Company.
Junk from front to back, side to side, and top to bottom.
Chrysler had unibodies, but they had enough brains to put the front springs on the lower control arms instead of destroying the engine compartment by having gargantuan “inner fenders” to make room for the springs on the upper control arms. Don’t get me started on the control arm bushing problems, ball-joint problems, or the general flimsiness of the entire suspension system.
“Don’t get me started on the control arm bushing problems, ball-joint problems, or the general flimsiness of the entire suspension system.”
Problems that were even worse if you bought one with the heavier optional 302 V8 that was offered starting in 1971.
Don’t get me started on the “permanently lubricated” chassis components that weren’t! Once the factory original parts failed, about six (6) months after the warranty had expired, if my memory serves, the replacement ball joints, tie rod ends and control arm bushings all came with grease fittings. The problem was that to grease the control arm bushings, you had to jack up the car and remove the front wheels! My Dad cut holes into the shock towers with an acetylene torch to access the grease fittings on the control arm bushings!
The Maverick, with its conventional long-hood, short-deck styling, was pleasant and unoffensive, but the design, a twice recycled Falcon, was already feeling its age. Its cheap interior, with acres of painted metal and hard plastic, was inferior to its domestic competition (GM X-Bodies, and Mopar A-Bodies), let alone the imports! The Maverick didn’t even provide a proper glove compartment, just a cheap plastic shelf with a vinyl pouch for your owner’s manual and legal documents (registration & insurance card). The four-wheel drum brakes, without power assist, were totally devoid of feel, took forever to dry out when wet, with a high pedal and requiring significantly higher pedal effort than the competition. Ditto the recirculating-ball power steering, which while commendably light, also had almost no road feel whatsoever. The handling was also substandard, with copious amounts of body roll and a harsh, jouncy ride, that offered neither softness or responsiveness. It beat walking, but only just barely. Even Ford’s subcompact Pinto offered a superior ride and handling experience for less money.
Our family’s 1972 four-door example was originally equipped with the Ford 250 cubic-inch I6, the next step up the engine option ladder before the V8, but with the increasing bite of the then new EPA emission controls, there was almost no difference in power output over the older 200 cubic-inch plant. To sum up, much like twice-reheated leftover pizza, the Maverick was a barely palatable dish, preferable only to going without food or wheels at all!
My third-grade teacher, whom I had a massive crush on, had one of these in pale green. Therefore, akin to worshipping the ground someone walks on, I adored her car as well.
Coincidentally or not, my first car was a 1974 Mercury Comet. Lemme tell ya, anything and everything Paul and this R&T article has to say about these cars is 100% accurate. Still, whenever I see one, I get a flutter of butterflies in my tummy. 🙂
Love does strange things to people, LOL!
That reminds me of my fourth grade teacher who I also adored. Her early 1970 Maverick was just as pretty to me as she was, and I have adored Mavericks ever after. I have 3 well-preserved ones now in my collection now.
I say again, love does strange things to people, LOL!
What propped up Maverick & Comet numbers were the Luxury Decor options introduced in ’72 and the gas crisis of ’73.
My Dad had a ’74 Comet 4 door with the 302 V8. Ok on interior space and strong A/C, but handling and braking were God awful. Made me leery of Ford till I got a ’05 Escape which I truly enjoyed.
70 Maverick 200 std . Best car I ever owned. Towed 3100 lb U-Haul from Sacramento to St. Louis and no problems. Other than usual maintenance, not so much as a light bulb failure in 100,000 miles. Simple, cheap transportation.
Are you sure we’re talking about the same car? Ours ate one (1) transmission, two (2) engines and God knows how many other parts before its second engine finally put the damn thing out of its misery, by committing suicide when it threw a connecting rod at a red light! At that point, my Dad had had enough, and it went away on a trailer, never to return. The guy who bought it from him gave him $500 for it, but I think that by then, my Dad would have PAID the guy $500 to get rid of it!
Robert, I detest the tumble home styling of these cars, but your statement about “…by committing suicide when it threw a connecting rod at a red light!” made me laugh out loud. Outstanding! Thank you very much.
Regarding the bench seat, they appealed to WWII Generation and elder buyers of the time, think Lee Iacocca’s peers. Bucket seats were for “kids”. And, there were some older drivers then, who could not deal with floor shifters, was “too distracting”, of all things.
Mav was aimed at average buyers, and as a Falcon replacement. But a bit too cheap and seen to younger folks in 70s/80s as nerd-mobile. And for sure it is not a “muscle car” as some young Gen-Z You Tubers claim.
I think the notion that these are a “muscle car” to younger generations has to do with the fact that many of the few that have managed to survive this long, are now sporting V8’s that have more beans than the top 302 option did when these were new. And even the smogger 302 in these morphed into the vaunted 5.0 (score one for the marketing team) that came in so many Fox Body Mustangs. Either way, Mavericks are an acceptable ingredient to use in the typical big engine into a smaller car performance recipe.
It’s pretty much the same thing as not knowing that there were 4 door and station wagon Chevelles and Novas, and not all of them were muscle cars. You’d hardly know it going to a car show today. I think everybody knows the Vega started life with a tinfoil engine, but I’ve only seen one still motivated by its 2300 in the last 20 years; it came smoking into the gas station I was filling up at, the driver purchased 2 quarts of gas station priced oil, dumped them in, and left.
I was born a couple years before the start of the so called “millennial generation”, and I much prefer a bench seat in most vehicles. It allows you to seat at least one other person (we used to double date in my older Chevy truck, actually seating four across), and allows you to slide across the seat if you need to reach something or get out of the opposite door. The bucket seats and monstrous console in my 4th gen Firebird made it awkward and nearly impossible to even touch the person in the passenger seat.
Was at NIU in northern IL in the early ’80’s, a guy that was in my dorm had a Willys Wagon that somehow made the trip out to campus but didn’t go anywhere. He was interested in a trade for a daily driver, and I found a ’72 Maverick, med green with black, decent body, black interior, was a better one as it had power disc & A/C, but had a dead 302. I just happened to have a ’68 302 out of a Mercury Cougar, so I bought the Maverick for $300 & swapped engines. The one weird thing was that the cooling fan pushed the air forward, not pull it backwards. Never had any overheating issues, so after a drive or two, headed for Dekalb. He loved it, and I got the wagon. I crossed my fingers that it would hold together, and for the next 2 yrs til graduation, it did OK.
I think you got the better end of the deal, LOL!
My dad picked up a client in his beloved Maverick, un-air-conditioned, hot summer day as much as they exist in Chicago. Client told him he was fired if he ever did that again. Dad had a Caprice within a few weeks.
I’ve shared on this blog before that I had a 1974 Ford Maverick with a 250 I6 that I modified with a 289 V8.
When I went to buy this car, the choices were this and a 1975 318 V8 Duster. This was in 1981 when gasoline went well over $1/gallon. I thought the 250 would be better on fuel. But, due to the addition of the safety and smog equipment added to the car, the fuel mileage was abysmal, at least for a six.
The 289 was able to move the portly Maverick far more easily than the strangled 250. The fuel mileage was better, too.
All of the criticisms leveled at the 1970 Maverick held true for the 1974 version I drove. There were some admirable things about the Maverick that I liked. The car was small, which was great in city driving. The handling wasn’t fantastic, but it was acceptable. I was more familiar with the handling of a RWD car, too. I didn’t mind that it was fairly basic, in fact, I still rather like a fairly basic car to this day.
In hindsight, I wished I would have bought the Duster instead.
Before my Mom bought the cursed Maverick to replace her ’61 Buck Special with the 215 cubic-inch aluminum V8, she test drove a brand new Dodge Dart with the 318 V8 and air conditioning (luxury, luxury!). My thirteen year-old self advocated for the Dart, but Mom and Dad thought the Dart was too expensive, so they bought the 1972 Maverick, a dealer demonstrator, instead. The demo Mac was sold to us by the dealer that was also selling company cars to my Dad’s firm, hence the link. The dealer kept postponing delivery of the new company cars, using various excuses, until my Dad got mad at him and cancelled his order! The order was for a brand-new 1973 T-Bird, therefore the dealer wasn’t too happy, so the Maverick turned out to be the perfect revenge, LOL! We never even got an owner’s manual for the damn thing!
Just an FYI, the company cars were a fleet buy of six (6) T-Birds, so I’m sure that my Dad’s company was getting a rock bottom price. My Dad’s theory was that the dealer was taking the cars meant to fill his company’s order, and selling them to customers with deeper pockets that were paying more for the cars. Dad got tired of being put off, and cancelled his order. We never found out if any of the other cars were finally delivered, my Dad quit when he found out that the owner of the company was using company money to buy new sails for his sailboat, so Dad ratted him out to the IRS and got fired for it.
I think one of the things that would really improve the performance of the Maverick would be power steering. Any car of the size and weight of the Maverick needs power steering, and should be available even if it’s only offered as an option.
Our 1972, four-door example came with power steering (it was available as an option). Yes, it lightened steering effort, at the expense of anesthetizing what little road feel remained in the ponderously slow recirculating-ball steering! These were compact economy cars, available at a rock bottom price for a new car. As a consequence of this, they were lightly optioned, if optioned at all. Other than power steering, the only options on our example were the automatic transmission and the AM radio. While somewhat rare, I have seen bare-bones examples without a radio and “sporting” a “three-on-the-tree” manual gearbox.
Just another misleading story. There is no mention of the maverick Graber. I owned a 7up bottle green 71 Graber in the early 80’s. The 302 was far from a slouch the car looked and drove awesomely. If your going to post a story get the facts right.
Note that the review in R&T was in the September, 1969 issue, just as the new 1970 models were hitting dealer’s showrooms. The “Grabber” edition wouldn’t make its appearance until the following year, the 1971 model year. Note also that the Grabber edition was primarily a tape and graphics package, and could be ordered with the base 170 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine. The hood scoops in the Grabber edition were non-functional, and even if the optional 302 V8 was ordered, it was only the two-barrel version, not the more powerful version with the four-barrel carburetor offered in the Mustang, possibly to avoid cannibalizing sales from the more expensive and more profitable Mustang.
Bought a yellow 2 dr 70 Maverick in 72 with 24k on it for $1400, 200 ci 3 on tree . Was owned by young lady, had trouble right off , put in cheap floor shift also didn’t want to downshift from 2nd down to 1st, always thought the girl messed something up. Anyway had car and drove it til 03. Sure through time had 2 valve jobs , 2 clutches, 2 starters , 2 altrnators,alternators, pump, radiator,brakes But I could repair most of those things myself. The only other thing Ford put in two leaf springs and I pulled both a small both a small utility trailer as well as tent trailer at times, so added both helper springs and rear air shocks.
I thought the 2 dr looked good sort of fastback almost. Good car , got you from point A to point B depending and fairly decent gas milage. My opinion a great car for its time, had about 200k when I finally parked it. Sure I had to put time ,parts and money in it, but didn’t have a car payment for 30 years.
Some people REALLY know how to squeeze the penny until “Honest Abe” screams, LOL!
In high school, I bought a ‘70 Maverick for $25 with a blown 6 cylinder. My best friend helped me drop a 289 V8 into it which was a very easy swap. Of course oversized wheels and tires were added. That car was very quick, outrunning a ‘67 Chevelle 327,4 speed in the 1/4 mile. A car is what you make of it!
Throw a stroker crank, some fresh pistons and con rods into it and, presto! it’s now a 302 (5.0L)! If you bore it out a bit, you might turn it into a 351! Even with a slightly less aggressive bore, it can become a 347!
That solves the power equation, now if you just could fix the brakes, steering and flaccid suspension, you might have a decent car! The problem is, you might spend several times the original purchase price to fix what Ford should have built correctly in the first place, and still be left with a fifty (50) year-old car with subpar space utilization, a cheap, plastic-y interior and crappy seats. I can make anything look good if I spend $100k and hire Dave Kindig or Chip Foose to do the work, but the question then becomes: Why would you want to?