Nearly Ready to Go: 1971 Ford Maverick, 302CID V8

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Ford launched its subcompact Maverick for model year 1970, capturing buyers who wanted sporty looks in an economy car. Once the Falcon shifted to an intermediate platform, the Maverick became the de facto compact option. It was never meant to be a muscle car: the largest engine available was a detuned 302 cu. in. V8, and only starting in 1971. Otherwise, buyers made do with one of three in-line sixes. That didn’t restrain sales – more than 570,000 were sold in the model’s inaugural year. The Grabber trim package added sizzle to the compact starting in ’71. Grabbers offered the 302 as an option, along with bucket seats, a floor shift, a spoiler, and a dual hood scoop. Tony Primo found this tidy Maverick for us – thanks, Tony!

Once the factory gave buyers a 302, it was a short leap to similar swaps away from those six-cylinder engines. Many a mundane Maverick has seen its original powerplant removed in favor of … more! Today’s 1971 Maverick has a 302 V8, headers and a dual exhaust, an automatic with overdrive, and an 8″ Trac-Lok rear end with 3.90:1 gears. That differential might have to come out, however, because the pinion nut was never preloaded properly. A front disc brake conversion tames the V8’s power. Underhood cooling should be no problem with that oversized aluminum radiator and its electric fan.

The seller notes that the seats need to be refurbished “eventually” –  the driver’s seat cushion is collapsed, and the upholstery is worn. The headliner is said to be in good shape. I like the clean layout of this cabin, though I’m not a fan of the Hurst shifter. True to ’70s style, Ford offered tartan plaid interiors in blue, nugget, red or white – groovy!

The long hood/short deck style arrived when Ford’s Mustang debuted, defining the “pony car”. That formula was copied mercilessly by Ford itself as well as every other manufacturer on the planet. The compact Maverick carried off the design well, and it came in a variety of cleverly named colors like “Establish Mint”, “Hulla Blue”, and “Original Cinnamon”, among others. This Maverick is for sale here on craigslist for $10,500; it’s located in Pegram, Tennessee. With only seven photos to peruse in the advertisement, either a phone call to solicit more information or an on-site visit is a must. As to value, Mavericks have long suffered a hangover from their “economy car” niche. This Grabber wanna-be sold for $9250 – a bargain if it’s half the car it seems to be; Hagerty posits that a “good” example with a 170 cu. in. six-cylinder is worth just under $10k. What price do you think it will take to find this one a new garage?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bud Lee

    I too hate the look of a bulky aftermarket shifter in anything. I would have just left it on the column.

    Like 19
    • Marko

      Technically they did leave it on the column. The shift lever is still there.

      Would be a lot of fun telling people it was Ford’s answer to the Rambler-AMC Twin Stick transmission.

      I am really liking this Maverick, with it’s combo of a nice color, and the styled wheels. Great car for the money.

      Like 13
  2. LCL

    Ah but ’tis a manly shifter.
    Alternately, to amuse my children (and myself) I replaced the plastic end of the shifter in my 84 Escort with a plastic sphere for a Jeep, which perfectly secured a Winnie the Pooh head that came off a no-tears shampoo bottle. The things we do for our kids.

    Like 17
  3. Steve

    The Maverick always reminded me of a 1951 Henry J.

    Like 6
    • LCL

      Dejan Vu all over again!
      When my father first saw a Maverick he said it looked just like the Henry J.
      Well, two makes it true.

      Like 6
    • Terrry

      They were both cheaply made, but for different reasons, and unlike the Maverick, the Henry J performed well for what it was.

      Like 2
      • Big C

        Were you frightened by someone driving a Ford, when you were a kid?

        Like 13
      • al

        bought a new 1970 maverick 200 ci 6 with 3 on the tree if performed well for what it was I had just bought first house and second child on the way and had to trade my 1968 Torino gt 390 4 speed for something more economy it later became a second car to a country squire keep it 10 years not one problem it was one of the first ones made had key on dash after jan 1970 they moved key to steering column

        Like 1
  4. Paul Hughes

    My first new car was a yellow 73 Maverick with the 6 cylinder. It actually had some power to it for that motor. I am very interested in this one, but the dual shifters got to go!

    Like 3
  5. joe

    Bench seat with auto on the floor and column ??? It’s amazing what can be done on a 3 day weekend with several 30 packs of your favorite brew .

    Like 7
  6. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    The Grabbers get the attention. But this Maverick looks good, with the aftermarket wheels and not much else changed (on the exterior). It illustrates the clean, sporty styling. I too think the floor shifter looks like overkill. Reasonable upgrades, otherwise.

    Like 10
  7. NoHope4This1

    I remember a Saturday morning growing up listening to the local AM radio station and they were on location at the local Ford dealer broadcasting live as the first Ford Mavericks were coming off the trucks and being “blown out” at an introductory sale. They had free hot dogs,pop and chips for all, games for the kids and you could take a brand new Maverick home equipped with AM radio, heater/defroster, vinyl roof and white wall tires for $1,995.99 (did not include title tax,and license.

    Like 4
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      That is exactly the price I saw quoted in research I conducted for this article! You remembered well!

      Like 4
    • Bfrench

      We bought one on that first day! $1995. It was only the eighth one sold in Massachusetts. Our first-ever new car. Gulf Stream Aqua.
      It was really sharp! It began to rust through in five years.

      Like 2
    • Bunky

      I remember Seattle Ford dealer advertising “New 1970 Maverick for $1970!”. Next year it was “New 1971 Pinto for $1971!” Talk about shrink-flation!

      By the way the color is callled Antiestablish Mint, thank you very much. Peace ✌🏻

      Like 1
      • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

        Anti-Establish Mint was a cool color, but methinks the featured car is Lime Gold. I remember Anti-Establish Mint as being a brighter, grassier green color. In any case, lots of people had Mavericks, and while they were simple, basic cars, many people got good use out of them.

        Like 1
  8. Rumpledoorskin

    Seems trapped in the danger zone between “works” and “done.”

    Like 1
  9. BrianT BrianTMember

    I like it, nice looking and plenty of power without being radical. I would connect the original shifter. Oh, fairly priced.

    Like 2
  10. Fox owner

    Like this Maverick but how do you change the spark plugs? Looks pretty tight under that hood. I remember when we were in high school, six of us driving around in a Maverick like this, and two of my friends were pretty big boys.

    Like 2
    • Big C

      There is one way to alleviate that tight engine bay. It’s called a Mustang II front suspension!

      Like 1
    • scottymac

      Holesaw the inner fenders!

      Like 0
  11. bill tebbutt

    Tip out back seat windows. Could we have those back please?

    Like 4
  12. Joe Haska

    I like it! To answer your question if I could buy it I would just call the seller and say I will take it for your number.

    Like 2
  13. ClassicP

    Maverick never did anything for me when you think of all the cars before 71’ like Grand Prix, GTO, 442, Chevelle and so on. But I’m digging this one probably because it was washed and the tires are wide and give the car a muscular look without emblems and trim it’s perfect.

    Like 0
  14. Robert Gunn

    I often see comments about getting the spark plugs out and back in on numerous cars, the majority of them can be done by changing whatever ratchet and extensions you are using to 1/4″ drive. Try it some day, you might be surprised. JS

    Like 2
    • al

      lol except on my 1950 Ford flathead v8 I just used a adjable wrench and wire brush to clean them then regap good for another 2500 miles or if I had the extra money got them sandblast for .10 cents each those where the days

      Like 1

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