TBT: The Original Maverick, Ford’s Popular ‘Simple Machine’

Following the introduction of the all-new Ford Maverick pickup, we’re taking a look back at the original iteration of the nameplate. What started out as a sporty, two-door sedan rose to popularity in the 1970s and was later repurposed for small Ford brand SUVs in markets outside the U.S. Now, Maverick is the latest addition to the Built Ford Tough lineup of Ford trucks.

With imports claiming an ever-increasing share of U.S. auto sales in the 1950s and ’60s, Ford launched the original Maverick in 1969. The car quickly earned the nickname “Ford’s Simple Machine” for its reliability, dependability, economic practicality and ease of repair.

The original Maverick, like the all-new Maverick, came at a budget-friendly starting price. At just $1,995, one Ford executive said “Never before has the American public been offered so great an automotive value at such low cost.” With a long hood and a short deck, it had a sporty flair, with a clean, swept-back appearance. The Maverick design was “proof that a small, inexpensive car can be beautiful,” it was said.

The 105-horsepower Maverick was also said to have “peppy performance,” while achieving more than 22 mpg at a time when fuel economy was a priority. Maverick also introduced new colors that played on its nonconformist ethos, such as Freudian Gilt and Anti Establish-Mint.

Similar to Mustang, Falcon and Fairlane before it, the Ford Maverick entered what was considered a “ready market,” with no immediate domestic competition. Production costs were kept down by parts-sharing to the greatest extent possible, including an engine sourced from the aforementioned cars, plus elimination of extras. The company’s use of early computer technology on an unprecedented scale is also said to have reduced costs.

A media blitz in support of the Maverick launch included dedicated prime-time TV spots, appearances at college spring break destinations and an introduction for reporters in “Mavericktown,” staged in an Arizona desert. The response from customers was immediate, with more than 2.7 million people visiting Ford showrooms in the week after the car’s introduction. Maverick had what was considered at the time Ford’s “most successful introductory quarter,” with sales higher than Mustang or Falcon.

Ford sold more than 100,000 Mavericks in the first three months and 340,000 in the first year, not too far off debut sales of Falcon and Mustang. No production delays were reported, but dealers ran 60 to 90 days behind and were often left without display models due to shortages. Ford ultimately sold nearly 2.1 million Mavericks over nine years before the car was discontinued in 1977.

A Grabber package, featuring a specially painted black hood and racing stripes, as well as a rear spoiler and wood grain steering wheel, was added in the second model year. A four-door model followed in 1971, accounting for 40% of sales by 1975, while a luxury décor model was added in 1972.

In addition to growing competition from smaller imports, there was also increasing public and government scrutiny of safety and fuel economy standards, as well as emissions. Maverick was the first Ford vehicle to meet the stringent emission control standards of the 1970s.   

Built in St. Thomas, Ontario, and Kansas City, then later Wayne Assembly Plant in Michigan, the original Maverick was in production through 1977. Share your memories of the original car below in the comments.

View More

Maverick production numbers

Model Years 1970-1977 (introduced April, 1969)

  • 1969: 127,833*
  • 1970: 451,081
  • 1971: 271,897
  • 1972: 254,964
  • 1973: 291,675
  • 1974: 301,048
  • 1975: 162,572
  • 1976: 139,687
  • 1977: 98,506

(*1970 models produced in 1969.)