Cool Car Find: 1970 Ford Maverick

Coke-bottle curves and a 302 V8 made the original Ford Maverick a sales darling. This 1970 example makes the most of that legacy.  

The Mustang’s Little Brother 

1970 Ford Maverick - carsforsale.com

1970 Ford Maverick – carsforsale.com  |  Shop 1970 Ford Maverick on Carsforsale.com

Today’s Cool Car Find is a 1970 Ford Maverick. With its prominent hood scoop, V8 engine, and Mustang-like profile, this vintage Maverick is a far cry from today’s hybrid light pickup version of the same name. Indeed, for those under 40, the original 1970s Ford Maverick is virtually unknown despite it being a best-seller for Ford when it was in production. So, what made the Maverick successful in the first place, and why has it receded into obscurity today?

The Maverick Makes Its Name 

1970 Ford Maverick - carsforsale.com
1970 Ford Maverick - carsforsale.com

The Maverick was developed as Ford’s replacement to the aging Falcon’s compact coupe to stay competitive in that space against encroaching imports from Europe and Asia and to remain in compliance with increasingly stringent safety regulations. The Maverick was in fact build from the Falcon’s chassis and carried over that car’s 170 cu.-in. straight-six engine. Though it featured a shorter 103-inch wheelbase, the new Maverick shared much visually with its big brother Mustang. The typical muscle car proportions of a long hood and a short deck were truncated in the case of the Maverick to a short hood and short deck. But with its fastback rear end, the Maverick’s profile had it looking for all the world like a tastefully snub-nosed Mustang.

In addition to the Falcon’s 170 I-6, the Maverick ran a 200 cu.-in. straight-six with 120 horsepower, and later in 1970 a new 250 cu.-in. Thriftpower I-6 arrived with 145 horsepower. Color options were not only plentiful, but many carried fun, puny titles like “Thanks Vermillion,” “Anti-Establish Mint,” “Original Cinnamon,” and “Freudian Gilt.” The 1970 Maverick was priced to move at just $1,995, and move it did, selling an impressive 579,000 units in its debut year.

Year-Over-Year 

Ford Maverick Grabber - dave_7 on wikimedia.org
Ford Maverick Grabber - dave_7 on wikimedia.org

The Maverick evolved a good deal over its run. In 1971, the Maverick was given a new “Grabber” performance trim that paired a set of sporty-looking dual hood scoops (’71 and ‘72 Grabbers only) with a new 302 Winsor V8 with 210 horsepower. A badge-swapped version, the Mercury Comet, was also introduced.

The following year, the 302 was made optional for all trims as were power disc brakes. 1972 saw the one-year-only “Spirit” trim which gave the Maverick a two-tone white and blue paint scheme with US flag badging on the rear quarter panels. This trim was done in conjunction with the Olympics that year and was shared with the Pinto and Mustang as well. A LDO (luxury décor option) was also offered which got you plush carpeting, reclining bucket seats, radial tires with paint matching wheel covers, faux wood interior trim, and a vinyl roof.

1970 Ford Maverick - carsforsale.com
1970 Ford Maverick - carsforsale.com

Power decreased for the 302 in 1973 to 135 horsepower in the name of efficiency. Larger bumpers were added for 1974 to meet the federal standards, along with minor trim changes. The addition of a catalytic converter in 1975 further diminished the 302’s output 129 horsepower. The Stallion trim package replaced the Grabber for 1976.

The Maverick was long in the tooth by 1977, its final model year, as the car had been intended as a stop gap model with a projected life cycle of five years. The better-than-expected sales for the Maverick allowed it to hang around a few years extra before finally being replaced by the Ford Fairmont, a clear aesthetic step downward.

The combination of good looks and affordability made the Maverick a success in its day. The fact that the Mustang and Mustang II cast such a long historical shadow probably has a lot to do with the Maverick’s lack of renown today.

This Cool Car 

1970 Ford Maverick - carsforsale.com

1970 Ford Maverick – carsforsale.com  |  Shop 1970 Ford Maverick on Carsforsale.com

Our Cool Car Find, a 1970 Ford Maverick, is an eye-catching iteration with an aftermarket hood scoop that’s much bigger than the subtle ones featured on the Grabber trim. The seller lists mechanical upgrades like a Brawler four-barrel carb, Hooker competition headers, a Cobra intake, and 180-cc Flotech heads. The 302 small-block V8 is paired with a three-speed automatic transmission that’s been given a B&M ratchet shifter. The combination of Mustang-like profile and obscure front end make this 1970 Ford Maverick an uncanny, head-turning mini-muscle car. It’s listed for a very reasonable $32,000.

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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