The Ford Maverick is a compact pickup truck launched by the Ford Motor Company for the 2022 model year. But the nameplate was originally affixed to a compact car that was built from 1970 to 1977. Ford resurrected the name for the new model and the rest is history.(1) Speaking of history, we will look at the compact Maverick sedan that once battled in a segment eventually overtaken by the Japanese manufacturers.
Laying the Foundation
Before we dissect the model at hand we will look at the reasoning behind the Ford Maverick in the first place. In the late 1960s, the market was still dominated by domestic manufacturers. But the first Japanese importers, namely Toyota and Datsun, were making inroads. Those models were less costly than the domestics and had a better reputation for build quality. Still, models such as the Chevrolet Nova and the Plymouth Valiant held sway. As for Ford, the Falcon was its entry, but sales were on a steady decline as the decade marched on.
A new model was needed and that brought forth the Ford Maverick. Initially offered as a two-door coupe, the 1970 Maverick was based on the bones of the Falcon. Nevertheless, a new name was chosen with styling reminiscent of the muscle cars of that era, particularly with its long hood, fastback roofline, and short rear deck. An immediate hit, the Maverick’s first-year sales rivaled the Mustang’s on its debut. Soon, a four-door model rolled out and Mercury Comet twin followed.
Ford Maverick Overview
Like its predecessor, the Ford Falcon, as well as its successor, the Ford Fairmount, the 1970-1977 Maverick is front-engine, rear-wheel drive. It was built for eight years under one generation and seats five.
The two-door model sits on a 103-inch wheelbase, while the four-door model has 109 inches between the front and rear wheels. Its overall length is 179.4 inches for the two-door, then stretched to 187 inches in later years. The four-door model is 193.9 inches long. The Maverick measures 70.5 inches wide and up to 53.5 inches tall. It weighs approximately 2,500 pounds. If the Maverick was built today, it would rival some midsize models.
In an era where the V8 engine still ruled, the Maverick got by with two fewer cylinders. At least initially. Specifically, Ford demonstrated its love for the inline 6-cylinder engine, offering three choices that first model year. The first two engines displaced 2.8 and 3.3 liters respectively. Later in the model year, a 4.1-liter straight-six was added. Manual and automatic transmission choices were available.
Despite the thrifty engine choices, Ford did add a 5.0-liter V8 engine beginning in the second model year. This engine made 210 horsepower and was available in eye-catching Grabber trims. A rear spoiler and a dual-dome hood aligned closely with the larger muscle cars still on the market. If you are a car collector, these are the most describable models.
Maverick Cost and Availability
Like the Ford Mustang, the Maverick was introduced months ahead of the traditional September/October model year release. Indeed, Ford chose April 17, which was the fifth anniversary of the Mustang’s introduction for rolling out the Maverick. And like the Mustang, some call the early models 1969 ½, but they were registered as 1970 models.
Ford set a starting price of $1,995(3) for its new compact, a very competitive price point that was just $500 above the base Volkswagen Beetle. Various engine and package upgrades added to the cost, but even a well-equipped model could be had for under $3,000, at least early on.
Ford sold more than 1.8 million units across eight years for a vehicle that was not originally supposed to last that long. Indeed, in 1975, Ford added the Granada, another front-engine, rear-wheel-drive model.(4) However, the gas crisis of 1973 and tougher emissions meant customers were wanting something smaller. Instead of discounting the Maverick, Ford kept it in production for three years, while readying its direct replacement, the Fairmount. Thus, Ford had a 1-2 punch in the segment with the Maverick serving as the budget model and the Granada the premium sedan. That arrangement continued into the 1980s with the Fairmount and Granada (later the LTD) holding influence.
The 1970s saw Japanese manufacturers making inroads with their small cars. The Maverick faced off against the Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, and Datsun 510, which were slightly smaller models that were priced lower and more efficient. From the domestics, the Maverick battled the AMC Concord, Chevrolet Nova, Pontiac Ventura, Oldsmobile Omega, Buick Apollo, Dodge Dart, and the Plymouth Valiant.
The Ford Maverick of the 1970s is by no means a memorable model, although in Grabber guise and with its many wild color choices, it has its place in automotive history. The two-door model is similar to a muscle car layout, thus with a V8 engine under the hood, it presents a decent alternative to the Mustang II and Torino.
Few young people know of the original Maverick, therefore with the moniker affixed to the compact truck beginning in 2022, it is given a second lease on life, some 45 years later. There is nothing that the two models have in common, although Ford certainly hopes that much of the sales success of the original Maverick carries forward to the new model.
(1) Katz, J. F. (2019, December 12). Maverick turns 50. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://performance.ford.com/enthusiasts/newsroom/2019/12/maverick-50th.html
(2) Ernst, Kurt. “Hemmings Find of the Day – 1971 Mercury Comet” Hemmings.com, 14 Oct. 2014, https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2014/10/14/hemmings-find-of-the-day-1971-mercury-comet. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.
(3) 1970 Ford Maverick 2 Door Sedan Prices, Values & Maverick 2 Door Sedan Price Specs. (n.d.). NADAguides. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://www.nadaguides.com/Cars/1970/Ford/Maverick/2-Door-Sedan/Values
(4) Tahaney, E. (2020, October 30). A Brief History of the Ford Granada and Its Delusions of Grandeur. MotorTrend. https://www.motortrend.com/vehicle-genres/ford-granada-history/ Accessed January 24, 2022.
Bull-Doser, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (Ford Maverick Grabber)
By https://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/ – https://www.flickr.com/photos/73029069@N00/9462381338/in/photolist-fqabiQ-fpUVwX-fpUVEe-fqab8E-fpUVAr-fqab4f-8QQftx-bLpuLF-qcSB7W-miqHLi-2kX9bP-bqE7CK-5evsX1-a1VnRd-k8Bj3x-aBGuYN-87ZyoQ-5xDe43, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38493580 (four-door)
By https://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/ – https://www.flickr.com/photos/73029069@N00/9462383648/in/photolist-fqabZE-fqabpo-fqabiQ-fpUVwX-fpUVEe-fqab8E-fpUVAr-fqab4f-8QQftx-bLpuLF-qcSB7W-miqHLi-2kX9bP-bqE7CK-5evsX1-a1VnRd-k8Bj3x-aBGuYN-87ZyoQ-5xDe43, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38493674 (interior)
By Christopher Michel – Maverick, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37115391(logo)