Mavericks are cool. We like to think of them as pure descendants of the original '64 1/2 Mustang-with a dash of Model T austerity thrown in by ol' Henry's ghost. Mavericks follow the same long hood/short trunk ponycar fastback recipe but with a serious no-frills vibe. Best of all, they're small and light. To wit, their 103-inch wheelbase is a whole 5 inches less than the original Mustang's 108-inch span. Our favorites are the '70 to '72 models with their simple chrome bumpers. Naturally, beauty is only skin deep and you'll be doing some open heart surgery-in the form of an engine swap-before any Maverick is up to a car crafter's standards. We're thinking 392-cube Windsor power with good alloy heads and 500 hp on pump gas. Then again, let's not forget the SOHC 427 and Boss 429 Pro Stock Mavericks of Dyno Don Nicholson and Fast Eddie Schartman. Go for it!
It's been more than 30 years since the last Mavericks rolled off the line, and while rust has claimed most of them, we recently spotted this hapless pair at Desert Valley Auto Parts in Phoenix (dvap.com, 800/905-8024). The Grabber Blue '71 packs 302 power and is loaded with A/C and a C4 slushbox. The red '70 is a bare-bones stripper with a 105hp 170 six and three on the tree. The 302 V-8 (210 hp) wasn't offered until 1971, but you could opt for a 200- (120hp) or 250-cube (155hp) six-popper in 1970 for quicker trips to the bingo hall.
In an amazing display of squandered patina, the red stripper still wears its '70-only 13-inch wheels and hubcaps. For '71 and beyond, 14-inch rolling stock was standard issue. We'd keep the cool caps but stick 'em on a set of body-color 15x4 steel wheels up front with 15x8s out back. The blue '71 flaunts an optional deluxe full cover on the front wheel.
Maverick interiors are so basic they lack the customary radio hole. Maverick buyers who ordered tunes got an add-on pod that sat under the dash panel. That vent in the middle of the dash is an A/C outlet, a stout $374 option in 1971.
Though no Mavericks were factory built with 9-inch rear axles (or four-speed transmissions), V-8 cars got the 8-inch axle with five-lug wheels as shown here. It'll withstand about 400 hp in a light car (300 if it's a stick shift). Six-cylinder cars were stuck with the puny 6.75-inch Salisbury-type (bolt-on inspection cover) axle with four-lug wheels. First developed for the '60 Falcon, they'll grenade if thrashed. Nicholson swapped in a Dana 60 to survive seven-grand Pro Stock SOHC clutch dumps.
* The Maverick-based Mercury Comet arrived one year after Maverick's 1970 debut and remained in production until 1977. Both were replaced by the new Fox-body Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr in 1978.
* It's common knowledge that Ford toyed with-but never produced-a four-door Mustang. Maverick (and Comet) scratched the four-door itch with the 1971 introduction of larger sedan models featuring four doors on a stretched 109-inch wheelbase.