After writing hundreds of car features, you begin to see patterns form. The standard car owner line is "I wanted to build something different" while describing his red '69 small-block Camaro. If you have read this magazine for more than 30 seconds, you know there is nothing more common than a red '69 Camaro. So it was truly refreshing when we discovered Thomas Hackmann's '71 Maverick sitting under the sun at the most recent annual Ford gathering at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. At first glance, it's a nice Maverick with a good stance. Thomas and his wife were out walking the show, so one of Thomas' friends gave us a quick nickel tour revealing an enormous amount of work that wasn't all that obvious unless you are a true fan of Ford's alternative to the Mustang. We had to be parsimonious with our tech notes and hit only the high points of all the stuff Thomas has changed on this little cruiser.
Restraint is not a word you would normally use in a description of this car, yet that word certainly fits. As an example, the fuel filler door looks completely normal in its location on the driver side quarter-panel except that Ford didn't put it there. Thomas said he never liked the way the stock fuel filler worked (located between the taillights), as it either balked or puked fuel nearly every time Thomas filled the tank. So he moved it, using a round fuel door from an '89 Ford Probe. Then Thomas fabbed a custom box to locate the license plate in the old fuel filler location so he could put the exhaust in the center where the license plate used to reside. And while those door handles are Ford issue, they're not OE Maverick; they originally came on a Pinto. The roof driprails are mysteriously missing, the wiper arms are custom fabricated, and the hood hinges are gas operated and were originally used on a Fox-body Mustang. Perhaps more obvious is the front air dam that looks for all the world like a complete custom build with what appears to be hours spent meticulously blending those character lines into the body. That's what we thought until Thomas said, "Actually, that air dam is from Stylin Concepts and is originally for a '97 S-10 pickup. I thought it looked pretty close, and I was amazed at how well it fit." There are probably more than a dozen other subtle tricks that Thomas has performed that we don't have room to describe. We could do one of those "Where's Waldo" games in which you have to name all the body mods. It's doubtful anyone would discover them all, except perhaps the Ford design stylists who originally penned this car.
But the best part of all is that Thomas, his animated wife, Tammy, and son, Zachary, do much more with this car than just take in compliments. Thomas says he built the car to enjoy by taking it on the road, including a 3,000-mile jaunt from the West Coast to the Midwest. The enjoyment includes performance things as well. Powered by Cleveland-headed, 306ci small-block, the Mav has pulled off a 13.60 pass at 101 mph and is capable of a 0.91 g number on the skidpad and a 142-mph top speed. Taking all that in, this may qualify as a watershed statement in the art of building a personal performance car. There's not a chance alive that Thomas will ever have to worry about somebody pulling up alongside him at a show with nearly the same car. Not a chance.
Who: Thomas and Tammy Hackmann
What: '71 Ford Maverick
Engine: The small-block Ford started out innocently enough, with a Scat 4340 steel crank and rod package and a set of 11:1-compression TRW pistons, but Thomas had the block drilled for Cleveland heads and then rounded up a set Australian Cleveland iron castings that were machined for screw-in studs and fitted with Ferrea 2.07/1.65-inch valves lifted with Harland Sharp 1.73:1 rockers and held in place with ARP Boss 302 studs. The cam is a Lunati hydraulic roller with 232/242 degrees of duration and 0.588/0.602-inch lift running Ford Racing hydraulic roller lifters. Edelbrock supplied the E-Boss intake using a 650 vacuum-secondary carburetor. Those are '90s Ford Racing Trans Am stud girdleûstyle valve covers in case you were wondering. Thomas had to make his own 1-7/8-inch equal-length headers and a 2-1/2-inch exhaust system because of the custom front clip and unusual cylinder head combination. The custom exhaust work even included changing the Flowmaster mufflers to create the side in and side out configuration necessary for the center outlet in the rear. He even had to custom fabricate his own 18-gallon aluminum fuel tank both to clear the exhaust and for the new filler location.
Trans: Because the Maverick was always intended as a driver, an overdrive trans was the only intelligent selection, so Thomas went with a T5 five-speed out of a '93 Mustang combined with a Ford Racing pressure plate and clutch and an aluminum flywheel.
Rearend/Rear suspension: Here's where you glance at the rearend expecting the typical 9-inch and are surprised to find a complete Jaguar XJ6 IRS supporting the back of the Maverick. Thomas says he went looking for an IRS package and was surprised at how easily the entire Jag package fit under the Maverick. He did have to reinforce the rear subframe to handle the Jag mounting points. The rear is fitted with a set of 3.73:1 gears and a Type 3 Traction-Lok. The Jag IRS also features inboard rear disc brakes damped with KYB shocks. Thomas also adapted a 5/8-inch-diameter rear sway bar off a '96 Taurus to help the handling.
Front suspension: Since he'd already scoped out the Jag rear, Thomas learned that the same '86 XJ6 sedan front suspension could be easily adapted. One big hint that the front suspension isn't stock is when you notice the original Maverick shock towers are missing. This opens up a lot of room under the hood. The Jag front suspension also features rack-and-pinion steering controlled by a '79 Thunderbird column, a 1-1/8-inch Addco front antiroll bar, and KYB shocks. For brakes, the 11-1/2-inch front Jag rotors remain, but Thomas adapted a set of Mazda RX-7 four-piston calipers.
Wheels/Tires: Since he wanted to maintain the Maverick's Ford flavor, Thomas went with a set of Ford Racing Y2K Cobra R wheels measuring 17 x 9 inches on all four corners with Sumitomo HTR-2 275/40ZR17s in the rear with only slightly smaller 255/40ZR17s in the front.
Bodywork: Here's where Thomas combined his machinist skills with his creative side. We've already covered a couple of ideas, but he also custom fabricated his own grille and incorporated a lighted Ford emblem in the center along with a custom-machined radiator support bracket. That's a functional Cougar Eliminator hoodscoop, and to make the car look lower, he trimmed the fenderwells to line up with the center body line. The Maverick emblems are from an '05 European Ford Maverick called a Ford Escape in the U.S. He also significantly re-arranged the entire rear fascia of the Maverick, moving the plate up where the gas filler formerly resided, created a centered rear exhaust exit, filled in the rear license plate notch, made the custom exhaust bezel, and added a stock Maverick Grabber rear spoiler.
Interior: Thomas said he also wanted to update the dash, and a '95 Thunderbird cluster fit the bill perfectly. He added a MOMO steering wheel and seats out of a '00 Chevy Cavalier. He also added power windows, power door locks, and a complete Sony sound system with 5-inch-front and 6x9-rear Xplod speakers.