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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1973 Ford Maverick

The 1973 Ford Maverick four-door sedan rode a wheelbase 
stretched  by 152 millimetres (six inches). With a six-cylinder engine the Maverick 
sold for $2,739 in Canada. 

North America’s compact car wars heated up considerably for the 1970 selling season as American Motors and Ford unleashed the next generation of domestically built small cars. Ford would replace the venerable Falcon in the North American market with its compact Maverick. The western-themed name was chosen to reflect on and hopefully cash in on the company's runaway success with Mustang

American Motors introduced the Hornet for the 1970 

selling season. Its target competition was Ford's new 
compact Maverick and a legion of imports.

American Motors dropped a cool $40 million for the Rambler's replacement--the car that started the compact craze in 1950. Even the Rambler name disappeared as the last of the independent automakers updated its stodgy image. Marketing dipped into the corporate name bin to borrow the Hornet name from the Hudson side of the AMC family as it launched its “little rich car”.

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Ford's Maverick bowed to the public as being “simply wonderful and wonderfully simple.” This time around the domestic automakers were not doing battle against each other as much as they were poised to fight imports.  General Motors fielded its faithful Chevrolet Nova  and would add its all-new Vega in 1971. Chrysler would stand firm with its tried-and-true Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart offerings. 

Maverick publicity made good use of humour; the 

compact was billed as 'running competition around the herd
of foreign cars' and promised to 'steer clear' of costly prices
and upkeep.

Built in Ford’s St. Thomas, Ontario facility, Maverick was launched on April 17, 1969—the fifth anniversary of the wildly successful Mustang. Maverick carefully followed the successful trail blazed for the compact Ford Falcon a decade earlier. Maverick was perky and pert. 

Consumers liked the long hood, short rear deck fastback styling and bought 19,104 of them in calendar year 1969—all of them being 1970 models. Despite its mid-year entry, Maverick took honours as the 11th best selling nameplate in the country.  Production of Mavericks accounted for 17.7 percent of all the cars built by Ford of Canada that year. Maverick sales were pure gravy when added to the 11,367 Ford Cortinas imported from the UK and 6,601 Ford Falcons that also went home with buyers. 

The imported Ford Cortina was popular with Canadians.

The story was much the same in 1970.  The venerable Falcon was finally phased out and Maverick stood alone in its place. Production hit 178,825 units and Mavericks were being shipped to the US as fast as the wranglers could lasso the newborn Fords, round them up and load the frisky critters into the CN car carriers waiting at the factory rail siding. Domestic sales for the Maverick and Falcon models hit 23,053 units for the model year, knocking out the full-sized Dodge lineup to claim eighth place in national sales. British-sourced Ford Cortinas did their part by snagging 10,111 sales, too.

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1971 Chevrolet Vega came in four versions. The Notchback
Coupe is shown.

When the 1971 selling season opened all eyes were on the new kids in the corral. The sharp looking Chevrolet Vega would take 15th place and the innocent, chubby-cheeked Ford Pinto would finish in 12th place. With that kind of competition it was no surprise that Maverick dropped in sales. It settled in at 21st place with 13,606 sales but the pot was sweetened with 11,616 sales of the cloned Mercury Comet.
1971 Mercury Comet was a kissin' cousin to the Ford Maverick.

Combined sales gave the two-birds-one-stone compact from St. Thomas a satisfying eighth place on the chart right behind the Plymouth Valiant. Late entry of the newest Ford Cortina from Britain saw a sales drop to 6,867 units.

Labour troubles at Ford in the UK caused Cortina sales to drop sharply in Canada in 1971.

Small cars were hotter than an egg fried on a Saskatoon sidewalk in July. The big Canada-wide winner for 1971 was Toyota in second place with 50,080 sales—only 192 units less than first place full-sized Chevrolet!  Datsun placed fourth with 45,100 sales, eclipsing Volkswagen in the Number Five spot with 30,435 sales to its credit. Plymouth Valiant was Number Seven and its Dodge Dart kin was Number Nine.

For 1972, the Ford Maverick was given a 2 768-millimetre (109-inch) wheelbased four-door sedan. It was one of Ford’s best ideas in a long time. Maverick rebounded to take 15,207 sales. Mercury’s Comet brought 13,747 more while the smartly styled Ford Cortina added another 10,028 to the total. The subcompact Ford Pinto grabbed 22,556 sales. The boys in Oakville were on a roll.

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When the doors opened for the 1973 selling season, the Maverick was in its fourth year without a major restyle. Fans noted the flatter, energy-absorbing front safety bumper. Not noticeable were the steel girders welded into the doors for safety. The Grabber option package was new that year, available with a six- or eight-cylinder mill under the hood. 

The Grabber package was new for the 1973 Ford Maverick. 
It listed for $2,806 with the six-cylinder engine and $$2,955 
with the V-8 stuffed under the hood.

Solidly established in the market, Maverick wordsmiths could do little more than announce the obvious--the car was “building on success.” Content with refinements, the compact boasted the latest in safety features, the brightest colours and latest interior fabrics.  The men of Maverick tripped over themselves to offer a fresh grille treatment that featured new parking lamps. The bright drip rail and wheel lip mouldings got attention, as did the now colour-keyed carpeting and the two-spoke steering wheel. Seats were blessed with revamped padding, and ticker backs. Soundproofing was upgraded. Door handles were improved. Attention to detail was proof that the company was in harmony with the buying public.

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Instrument panel of the 1973 Ford Maverick was simple.
Note the Euro-style under-the-dash parcel shelf. 

To dress up Maverick in its best Sunday-go-to-meeting finery, Ford stylists dreamt up the Luxury D├ęcor Option with “glove-soft" all vinyl trim, reclining front seats, plush cut-pile carpets, colour-keyed wheel covers and an Odense grained vinyl roof in Black, White or Green and Orange for the Grabber. 
The 1973 Ford Maverick offered upscale 

cloth and vinyl upholstery or extra-cost all-vinyl 
seating with luxurious pleats.

The list of  Maverick options was practically as long as the Trans-Canada Highway. Included were the SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic transmission, SelectAire conditioner, tinted glass and power steering. There was a string of radios, including an AM-FM stereo unit. Dress items extended to metallic glow paints, a spare tire lock, a centre-mounted, lockable storage Consolette with an electric clock, a leather-wrapped deluxe steering wheel, a 4-litre (250 CID) six or the 5-litre (302 CID) V-8 engines, heavy duty suspension, and rubber bumper guards, to name but a few.

  The least expensive Ford Maverick in 1973 carried a 
sticker price of $2,603 f.o.b. Oakville, Ontario.

Oakville would end the year in pretty good shape. Total sales for the Blue Oval added up to 225,838 units—some 20,000 more than 1972. Maverick would take 14th place in domestic sales with 22,599 units delivered. Mercury Comet would park itself in the 18th spot with 20,294 sales and in its final year in Canada, the British-sourced Ford Cortina added 6,619 sales. 

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  Copyright James C. Mays 2007 All rights reserved.

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