My First Maverick!

In April of 1969, when I was a senior at Olympus High School in Salt Lake County, Utah, the younger brother of my debate partner purchased a Maverick.  The car was solid red, had the baseline upholstery, rubber floor mats, 13" wheels and tires, and a 170 cid with a three-speed.  No radio, no stainless exterior trim, no options, period. 

This car was an instant hit at Olympus High.  Many of my friends and I had noticed the magazine and television advertisements (links to adverts, still to be scanned), and we were just entranced by the car.  The Maverick had a natural appeal it was sort of a fastback, it was a fresh shape,  the father of a friend told us that the Maverick was basically a Mustang underneath, and it was NEW!  And the advert campaign was funky and off the wall.  All of these elements combined to gain our collective attention and great interest.  Well, Rick's red Maverick (I later went to law school with Rick) was just the ticket to get us all involved in Rick's car.  We all got a ride, and it wasn't long before he started to modify it.  If my memory isn't failing me, he added some aftermarket wheels and tires, a radio, and a low restriction muffler.  It was still slow as a stone at rest, but it was so utterly cool!   As I left school every day, I would always walk by the car to check it out.  It just glistened in the late Spring sunlight.

 I worked that summer, driving my mother's mint low-mileage 1960 Thunderbird as necessary. As more and more Mavericks were sold (remember that the first year run exceeded the Mustang), I checked out the various versions I saw running around.  Some were kept strictly stock by their owners; others were modified, often substantially.  Each version that I saw was noted and catalogued; I would spend time writing down color, equipment and modification schemes as the months rolled toward the early Fall of 1969. 

I started my 6-year university career at the University of Utah in mid-September of 1969.  Each day, I drove the carefully maintained '60 T-Bird and though the car was cool (I have since done a complete restoration for my mother), I dreamed of Mavericks.  And the magazines were even covering the cars, often specifically mentioning suggested modifications to improve the appearance and performance.

My thoughts seemed to be inordinately focused on Mavericks even though I had a beautiful girlfriend and I was doing exceptionally well in my classes. My father and I started to talk about getting me a car because he was concerned with my carefully choreographed exhortations, of course! that I was just wearing out my mother's Thunderbird.  Sometime in mid-November of 1969, he suggested, a bit coyly, that I should drive by Petty Ford in the Salt Lake berg of Sugarhouse and check out the Mavericks.  Petty Ford was an old and venerable dealership and well known in those days.  One day, after classes, I dropped by the dealership and talked with a salesman about Mavericks.  He showed me a red one, a cinnamon one, a white one, and an awful mint green version.  He also showed me a top of the line model that was featured on the showroom floor; painted Jade Green and featuring the Accent Group (14" wheels with full hubcaps, upgraded upholstery, a radio, carpeting, stainless moldings on the door window frames and rear quarter windows), the earth-tone  Blazer seat trim , it also had the largest engine then offered the 200 six cylinder. Of course, this Maverick (VIN: OK91T192500)  was well-waxed, and it just looked great.  My father, Dean L. Gustavson, FAIA,  is an architect, and he had taught me about proper color choice and other aesthetic matters.   So, naturally, I preferred the Black Jade (later renamed Dark Ivy Green Metallic) car.  The salesman and I talked price and other details and I left, hyperventilating.  I reported to my father that night who asked about what I thought about the car.  Barely concealing my interest, I described the car in detail and told my dad and mom about this 'wonderful car' at Petty Ford. 

Well, adroitly, he dropped the subject after that, though I continued to visit the dealership no less than once a week.  Every time, that Black Jade car was still there, though the other Mavericks seemed to come and go; the green Maverick just wasn't selling.  Since I heard no more from my father, I thought that the hope for the car was just a dream and not one that would be realized.  By that time, I was deeply involved in my studies and I was determined to maintain excellent grades.

An examination of the documents shows that my father purchased the car on December 10, 1969.  If so, I wasn't aware of it.  Convinced, as I was, that the injunctions of my father to 'check out the Mavericks' was a mere academic or esthetic task, but not a practical one, I doubt that I checked back at the dealership very often -- if at all -- after my first visit there.  Puzzled by this time, I recently asked my father (Thanksgiving weekend, 1999) about this time and he told me that he did, in fact, buy the car on December 10, but left it at the dealership until just a day or so before Christmas that year.  Apparently, he struck an arrangement with the dealership to use their showroom as a storage facility because he had no place to park the car, and he was intent on presenting it to me as a surprise on Christmas morning. 

He and my mother, Barbara, did a fine job of hiding their decision, at least for the most part.  However, I 'sensed' that something was up so  I took my  cousin, Craig Stoll, who lived right next door, into my confidence as my memory serves me about the whole matter.  He and I assembled in our minds a hundred scenarios, each attempting to make sense of what my father had told me.  My mother was stoic about things, disclaiming any knowledge of the entire matter; still, she has a provocative sparkle in her eye and that convinced me, more than my father's protestations of innocence, that something was afoot.  I must have driven Craig nuts as I talked with him incessantly to him about that  Black Jade Maverick with the earth-tone Blazer seat trim and the stainless moldings.   After adding up all the gauzy evidence,  I came to the conclusion that my parents had purchased the car but where had they stashed it?  Craig and I considered every possibility and drove around, incessantly, in his mint 348-powered '58 Chevy Impala checking out the homes of my parents' friends, family members and employees.  Not more than a couple of days before Christmas, we happened upon the home of Spencer Smith, one of my father's most trusted employees.  There, in his carport, was a car covered up with a blanket or a sheet, or something.  Of course, it would have been gauche and well as illegal just to stride across and his yard and, with verve and daring, pull off the cover.  Well, we wanted to, but we didn't do it.  It just all seemed so tantalizing but equally implausible.  I just forced the issue from my mind, bought my Christmas presents for friends and family, and dreamed about the damned car.  I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I was going nuts.

On Christmas morning, when my family opened the gifts, there was just a single box under the tree for me.  Candidly, I didn't think much of that fact.  But when I opened up the box, there was a set of keys - Ford keys!  My mother was, no doubt, at the core of this subterfuge, because it was exquisitely planned.  I tore out of the front room of our home, slammed open the front door moving so fast that I cut across the snowy front yard,  and ran to the carport.  There was that very same Black Jade Maverick, sitting there with a ribbon around it.  Against the hard evidence, and beyond belief, there it was.  I opened up the door, started the motor, let it idle while I opened up the hood to stare at the sweet 200 six that just purred.  

My parents, and brother and sister, followed me to the carport but at a more leisurely pace.  My mother later remarked that she was concerned for my health, since I was so excited.  Well, I was okay, of course, but I'll never forget that day.  Later, my father gave me the purchase receipt -- this car had been acquired for $2,309.27 including tax, dealer prep and licensing fee.  It wasn't a bad deal for such a well-equipped Maverick.

Later that day, I took the car out to show my friends, some relatives, and my girlfriend who just didn't appreciate or understand my passionate interest in the car.  Nevertheless, I had my first car and I was in love!  In the days that followed, I treated the car to several coats of wax, applied Scotchguard to the seats, and other examples of my attentiveness.  Wow!  In fact, my maintenance schedule was detailed and almost obsessive.

At some point in the first few months, I did some investigation into the production schedule of the car.  The VIN plate revealed that the car was built in the Kansas City plant (alongside the Torinos); the only other Maverick production site was in the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Window, Ontario, Canada.  My car, of course, had the 200 six, and was the 92,500th car made in Kansas City in the 1970 model year.  While there is no apparent way to trace the actual production date at this point, my Black Jade Maverick was built sometime before August of 1969 because the 8/69 factory brochure no longer shows the package tray-mounted  ignition bezel.  This means, inferentially, that my car had been produced something in the first five months of production; however, it is unlikely if the indicated date of the 8/69 brochure corresponded directly with the actual production schedule for the car. 

It wasn't long before I started to modify the car, however.  I was never one to leave things alone, and this already cool car could be made better through some modifications.  No one around me (except my cousin, Craig Stoll, who lived next door) understood my interest in customizing the car, but that was okay.  Nevertheless, I had to "package" the changes to my father as improvements.

The first changes were pinstripping (in white, can you believe it?), the removal of the hub caps, the addition of chrome trim rings, gold-painted brake drums front and rear, and a '3.5 Litre" notation on the front fender (stencil onto white vinyl, then cut out), just below the "Maverick" nameplate.  (Photo One) .   I also painted the air cleaner and the valve cover in gold metalflake, using Cal Custom's spray can lacquer. (Photo 8A) Finally, I added wheel lip moldings to all four corners, with the rocker panel molding waiting until several years in the future. (Photo Two)   And it was waxed time and time again, and washed several times each week because of the heavy use of salt by the Utah Department of Highways.  (Photo Two-A).

In the late summer of 1970, I marked off a round shape on the passenger side of the rear valence that corresponded with the centerline of the exhaust pipe from the muffler.  I had read all of the customizing books, and I was convinced that I could create a flared exhaust opening in the rear pan.   So, I pulled the rear valence off the car, cut out the shape with tinsnips, and soldered a piece of precut .050 brass around the inside radius using an industrial soldering iron and acid core solder.  I shaped the solder with a round file, washed down the area with DuPont Metal Prep, primed it and painted the entire valence with specially-matched DuPont acrylic lacquer.  I reinstalled the valence after a few days' work, and then I was off to Master Muffler for the installation of a glass-pak muffler with a chrome extension.  The entire project took around three days and not much more than $35.00. My first custom bodywork on a Maverick had occurred!

 After that, more changes were in order.  A friend, a professional mechanic, and I decided that we should remove the cylinder head because the lifters were making some noise (for reasons that just baffled me because I had treated the engine so well).  We discovered that a valve spring had broken, so we had a reputable machine shop go through the head: we did a three-angle valve job, we planned the head around .030, and the shop owner did a little porting and polishing.  We painted the head to match the engine (by this time painted black) and Bill Holmied and I bolted everything back together.  We changed the plugs, advanced the timing, and replaced the small Ford carb with a slightly larger Holley one-barrel. I also added a Cal Custom tubular front grille (Photo 6A) that I purchased through JC Whitney.   Well, the car ran a lot better and accelerated smartly (or so I thought).  And it sounded cool! 

 Following this operation, I modified the exhaust system again, and flared out the valence again to accompany a dual-pipe Monza style exhaust set up.  A turbo muffler was now installed along with a new exhaust system (a larger diameter).  I also purchased a set of Appliance-brand 14 by 6" chrome slotted wheels along with the widest top-of-the-line Firestone performance radials that could be had (radials were then fairly new, in 1971). (Photo 4) .  I also installed Monroe 500 shocks (with the large 1" piston shafts) that really helped handling.  At the same time, I painted the entire lower part of the car (below the character line, including the front and rear valences), using 1972 Medium Metallic Lime this was done in lacquer directly over the carefully sanded original factory acrylic enamel.(Photo 8) .   I did the work myself and it looked great!  Finally, I also added a steering column mounted tach, and a set of aftermarket gauges.  At this point, I was back to hyperventilating because my Maverick had custom wheels, custom gauges, (Photo 7) , custom body work, custom paint, and a (mildly) souped-up motor!  It didn't matter that the new V8 Mavericks could dust me easily they didn't have what I had!   And I was happy!  (Photo 6)

 At this point, I was deeply involved with school so I limited my further work on the car to maintaining all that I had done.  I ran into across a couple of other Maverick owners at the University of Utah, and we spent some time together working on our cars and driving them together.  As I graduated from undergraduate work, I fell in love with Janet Daly who would shortly become my wife.  My thoughts naturally turned in another direction, though Janet understood my passion for this mechanical object. 

The summer after my first year of law school, I decided to repaint the car the original jade black enamel was getting thin in places after a lot of waxing and six years of sun exposure.  I took the car apart that summer, block-sanded the car (there was no body damage or rust to worry about), and friend of mine and I repainted the car, using a clear coat of the catalyzed acrylic enamel.  (Photo 9).   The paint scheme differed this time, though the same basic colors were retained. Importantly, I added the Grabber trunk and quarter panel spoilers for the first time I tried to find a Grabber hood in the junkyard but all that I found were in terrible condition and a new one was well beyond my financial ability.   The drive train was in great shape, though I replaced the clutch with a high-performance unit, moved the shifter to the floor and purchased another set of radials, this time from Goodyear.  (Photo 10).  After the paint had thoroughly cured, I lightly sanded the finish with 3-M 1200 grit paper and then buffed it out.  It looked great, and this paint job lasted for years through the birth of my first child and son (Eric, who's now 23).   (Photo 11)

On the way to work in 1982, I was involved in a fairly serious accident on I-15 in Salt Lake County.  As I was exciting the freeway, some jerk in a Scout International ran into the back of me.  The hit was hard enough, and hurt my neck (which is now afflicted with arthritis).  The insurance company settled with me, and my bodyman friend George Layton took the car to his shop and did his best to straighten the car.  The rear end was pulled out, and he added Mercury Bobcat taillights, (Photo 13), molded on the quarter panel pot metal spoiler extensions, duplicated the trunk spoiler with sheetmetal and added a Comet GT hood scoop (which looked just AWFUL). (Photo 15).  He also followed my direction and added a sunken antenna to the right rear quarter panel. (Photo 12).  The car now had its third paint job, again in the same basic colors and scheme.  The car had around 90K miles on it in the mid-eighties, and I kept the car until 1983 at which point I sold it to a friend for about half of what the car cost originally it was just too rusty, and the effects of the heartbreaking accident had really taken a toll on the car.  I stripped off the chrome wheels, the tach, and the gauge set and my friend took the car. (Photo 14) The car was sold on August 30, 1983. The car had been mine for 14 wonderful and occasionally frustrating years. 

Though that car is gone, I'll remember it also.  That first Maverick also triggered what has amounted to a lifelong interest in Mavericks which continues to this day. I vowed in 1983 to get another early model just like my first car and build a duplicate.   Starting in 1985, I started to devote a lot of money to purchasing pickup truck loads of Maverick trim parts that I could locate through Ford and other dealers, like Green Sales.  I now have many set of NOS trim and related parts.   Mavericks ubber alles!

Maybe one day, I'll clone my first car.  Hmmm  . . .    In 1996, I located an 85,630 mile 200 6/3-speed Maverick built on May 11, 1969 in the Kansas City Ford plant! Hmmmm . . .

 

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