Similarly to how many members of society have a soft spot for animals and adopt a furry friend from a shelter, one Kansas City Assembly Plant employee has a weakness too, and it is adopting cars – and lots of them. Mike Dunavin, is a paint repair specialist in the Transit Final department who transferred from the St. Louis Assembly Plant to Kansas City 16 years ago.
After Mike made the move, his coworkers playfully dubbed him with the nickname ‘Maverick Mike’ when they found out about his collection of cars. “They started calling me that when I got the Mavericks and it just stuck ever since,” said Dunavin.
He currently owns three classic Mavericks: two 1970s and a 1972 ‘Grabber’. “The Grabber was an option they made here in KC,” he said. “It has double-scoops in the hood and is a specialty package. It is the most race-oriented one Ford produced actually.”
One of his 1970s Mavericks he utilizes as a drag racing car. “It’s got the fat tires on back and has a 351 cubic inch V8 under the hood,” he said. “The ’72 is a retirement project and is all original right now.”
Aside from the Mavericks, Mike is a car connoisseur in general, owning a total of 17 cars at his home. He has a large 65’ x 100’ garage which houses the majority of his collection, all Fords. One vehicle he claims as his most treasured is a 1969 Mercury Cougar. “That is my baby, my pride and joy,” he said. “It gets a lot of looks. People often complement it, telling me how much of a pretty car it is.” Owning it for almost 28 years, it is one of Dunavin’s most prized possessions. “If I had to whittle down my collection, the ’69 Cougar is by far the one I would choose to keep,” he said.
Mike’s father, Don Dunavin worked for Ford for 30 years spending most of his career in the paint booth, making it arguably another reason the apple did not fall far from the tree. “Back in the day, Ford paid for me to attend an educational program from 1996-1998,” he said. “I went to auto-body school at North County Tech in St. Louis,” he explained. “Doing body and paint work really taught me a lot about patience,” he said. “Paint is certainly an art in the automotive world.”
Among his troupe of vehicles, Dunavin also owns three F-150s, two F-250s and four Mustangs: a 1984 SVO, a 1993 Cobra, a 1995 GT and a 2006 GT, which is his daily driver.
While he acquired a hefty number of cars over time, Mike also adopted three dogs when he was introduced to them by his daughter who is a veterinary technician. And while he never regrets his passion for pets and wheels, he laughingly says, “My dad is always telling me I need to get rid of some dogs and some cars.”