Not many people remember the Ford Maverick. The Pinto gets remembered, usually not very fondly, as Ford’s attempt to build a compact car. Litigation over gas tank fires gave the Pinto a notoriety that the inoffensive Maverick never had so people remember the Pinto, but the Maverick was really Ford’s first attempt to take on the success of the VW Beetle. While the early 1960s Falcon was part of an industry wide response to VW’s success by offering compact cars, the Maverick was specifically marketed to people considering the Beetle. Maverick literature compared it’s sleek look to the Beetle’s tall 1930s vintage styling. Introduced as a 1969 model, the Maverick was smaller than Chrysler’s Dart/Valiant siblings and Chevy’s Nova. It competed more directly with the VW (and early Japanese imports), while simultaneously being Ford’s competitive offering to people considering the Chrysler and Chevy compacts.
The beginning of the 1970s was the apogee of the muscle car era, and even some of those Darts and Novas had small block V8 engines. Though Ford initially tried to market the Maverick as sporty, offering the Grabber package late in the 1970 model year, the Grabber that year was mostly a trim and appearance package, with a choice of either 200 or 250 CI sixes. Ford realized that they’d have to offer a V8 to give the Maverick some performance credibility so for the 1971 model year, Ford started offering the 302 V8. They also introduced the “Grabber” hood, a distinctive hood with two round nostril looking air scoops flanking the power bulge. Most Maverick Grabbers came in, not surprisingly, Grabber Blue, more familiar to Mustang enthusiasts though the car picture above is in a darker metallic blue. That year Mercury dealers got their own version of the Maverick, reprising the Comet brand, and they also got an equivalent model to the Grabber in the Comet GT. The 1971 Maverick Grabber at the top of this story was at the Mustang Club of Mid Michigan’s 2011 annual meet. The 1971 Comet GT, in Grabber blue, was at the Packard Proving Grounds’ 2011 Spring Open House.