There are a lot of car guys who protect their vehicle from harm, no matter the cost. They are afraid of breaking parts, getting it dirty, or throwing rubber on the quarter panels. Josh Dillon is not one of those guys, and his brutally fast Ford Maverick is all the proof we need. It's bad fast, and it's built on a budget, but our favorite part of the equation is Josh's willingness to simply floor it and hope for the best.
Josh beats on this Maverick with absolutely no remorse. He says, "If it blows up, I'll rebuild it...again." The heart of his build is a big-block Ford with a single turbocharger, and the rest of it is a highly calculated combination of swap-meet parts to support the boost. Josh never set out with a particular budget in mind, but his eternal goal in life is to go fast without spending much money, so his Maverick is a shining example of this approach.
He's gone through a few combinations before getting to this point, one of which included an engine swap from an 1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. He slapped a big turbo on the four-banger and went eight-flat in the eighth-mile, while getting 30 miles per gallon on his daily commute. With intentions of going much faster, he yanked the four-cylinder engine and started cutting on the engine bay until he had enough room to drop in a big-block Ford.
After a few years of working out the bugs, Josh is beating on the Maverick more than ever. It's holding together nicely, considering the budget-built nature and Josh's relentless right foot. On street tires, the turbo big-block offers enough torque to spin the tires at any speed, so he enjoys offering rides to anyone willing to sit in the passenger seat. Traction is a bit better on slicks, but the car is a handful, either way. Track time has been somewhat limited, due to the car's lack of safety equipment, but he's working on making it legal without killing the sleeper vibe.
The car has proven to be reliable on the street, and it survives Josh's commute to work on a regular basis, along with lots of abusive trips down the backroads of Athens, Tennessee. Josh spent less than $8,800 on this project, including the purchase price of the car, so he's having lots of fun without dipping into his children's college funds. The coolest part of the entire project is the fact that Josh built every piece of it at home. He only hired out the machine work on the block, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that this homebuilt street car can bust off a low-11-second quarter-mile pass at the drop of a hat.
Josh is not afraid of a challenge, and he's not afraid to beat the living daylights out of his very sneaky big-block Maverick. It's a budget-built sleeper that still sees plenty of street miles, and Josh rarely takes it easy when he slides behind the wheel. This abusive relationship shows no signs of ending, as Josh continues to tune on the combination and find more areas to improve. It's scary fast and downright dirty, but that's the way Josh likes it.
Who: Josh Dillon
What: 1973 Ford Maverick
Where: Athens, Tennessee
Engine: Josh built the 1974 model 460ci big-block in his home shop, using a stock crankshaft, Scat H-beam rods, and a set of Probe forged dish pistons to provide a boost-friendly 8.3:1 compression ratio. Riverside Machine Shop bored the block 0.030-inch over, making a final displacement of 466 ci. Josh ported the D3VE cylinder heads but kept the stock 2.08- and 1.65-inch valves. The camshaft is a Summit Racing hydraulic flat-tappet with 276/286 degrees advertised duration and 0.503-inch max lift, ground on a 114-degree lobe-separation angle. Chrome-moly pushrods are the only valvetrain modification. Induction consists of an Edelbrock Torker II intake manifold, topped by a Carb Shop 900-cfm blow-through carburetor.
Boost: Big-time horsepower is created by a Borg-Warner S475 turbocharger, which features a 1.1 A/R exhaust housing. The turbo spools quickly and breathes into a cut-down air-to-air intercooler from a diesel truck. The 60mm wastegate and 50mm blow-off valve are eBay items. Josh made all of the turbo mounting brackets and piping. He also plumbed the boost-ready fuel system with a 10-gallon fuel cell, big AN lines, an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump, and a boost-referenced A2000 regulator. He pulls 1.4 degrees of timing per pound of boost added, using a Mallory ignition box, and generally runs 15 pounds of boost with 15 degrees of timing as a safe tune on pump gas.
Transmission: Josh and his father, Craig Dillon, rebuilt the C6 automatic transmission, which came out of the same donor vehicle as the engine. They installed modified pressure plates in the drums to hold more friction and steel, but used all Ford hard parts in the transmission. A Dacco transmission rebuild kit and a Fairbanks Competition shift kit put the finishing touches on the C6. The converter is a Dacco unit, which stalls to 2,500 rpm but has given Josh some problems with slippage on the big end. A tighter converter is coming soon. Amazingly, the Jeep Cherokee driveshaft has survived through all of this.
Chassis: Ford guys have it rough when it comes to stuffing a big-block in a small car. Josh had to completely butcher his engine bay to fit the big-block. He whacked the shock towers and installed a Mustang II front suspension kit, using a crossmember for a 1965–1967 Mustang, big-block springs from a Nova, and a manual steering rack-and-pinion. The front brakes are GM metric discs, and the rear brakes are the stock drums, which are still attached to the stock 8-inch rearend. Josh runs a 3.00 gearset, with the stock 28-spline axles and a cheap mini-spool. The original leaf springs are in place, and Josh never bothered to replace the rear shocks.
Exterior: Josh does bodywork for a living, but he chose to leave the crustiness of his Maverick to enhance the sleeper look, and he also left the 2.3 badges from the car's previous configuration. He likes the look of earlier Mavericks, so he tossed the heavy 1973 bumpers and installed fiberglass 1971–72 bumpers. The hood is gutted to clear the carb hat, but it still doesn't really fit. The car is beat up from years of thrashing, but it definitely adds to the beater mentality.
Interior: Inside, the car is mostly stock. Josh kept all of the interior panels intact, but he fabricated a removable five-point rollbar to sneak by the tech guy at the local dragstrip. Let's just hope the tech guy isn't reading this.
Wheels/Tires: Josh's Maverick rolls on a set of steel wheels, which are part of the car's sneaky attitude. The fronts are 5 inches wide, and the rears are 8-inch OE-style wheels from Coker Tire. The slicks are Mickey Thompson 26x8.5-15, and Josh installed rim screws on the inside bead for another level of sneakiness.
Performance: Josh's Maverick weighs in at 3,270 pounds and really gets wild on the street. At the track, it has run a best of 7.13 at 101 mph in the eighth-mile (bottom 11s about 124 in the quarter!), running 14 pounds of boost on pump gas. Not bad for a homebuilt $8,800 sleeper!
Budget: Lots of money has been spent on trial and error, so Josh's total is a bit higher than you might expect. His total build cost is $8,800, but that includes every bolt, hose clamp, and zip-tie on the entire car. That's a lot of zip-ties.