Jim Smart
June 1, 2005

The Mustang made all kinds of sales records obsolete in the '60s: one million units in the first two model years; two million by mid-year 1968, despite a Ford-crippling UAW strike. impressive by anyone's sales' standards, but did you know the '70 Ford Maverick-introduced on the Mustang's fifth anniversary, April 17, 1969-blew past the Mustang's sales successes, beating the '65 Mustang's sales numbers at 578,914 units in the same 18-month period. Ford introduced the Maverick as "The First Car of the '70s at '60s Prices." The Maverick's phenomenal success wasn't a flash in the pan; it continued for five years. Sales began to decline in 1976 when the Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch consumed a significant percentage of Maverick sales.

The all-new Falcon replacement sold so well because it was everything the Falcon was in 1960-only more affordable and certainly nicer. Base sticker price for the '70 Maverick with a six and a column stick-shift was a checkbook-cracking $1,995. Perfect as a second car, or for all those baby boomers heading off to college who wanted something larger and cheaper than a Volkswagon Beetle. The new Maverick was unbeatable because it was such a simple car, just like the Falcon was ten years earlier. People loved it for that and its slippery styling on a 103-inch wheelbase. It was easy to drive and park, and with the 170 and 200ci sixes, it was fuel stingy to boot. It was likely the greatest automotive bargain of the 20th century.

For all the tomatoes, broken bottles, and raspberries the Maverick gets from the same crowd that bashes the Mustang II and Pinto, it sold extraordinarily well throughout its seven model-year production run in the U.S. By the time production ended in 1977, Ford had sold more than 2.5 million Mavericks. Someone out there certainly liked them.

You would expect Derrick Yee to be driving a late-model Mustang. He just doesn't look the Maverick type. But Derrick is "maverick" in spirit. He marches to his own beat, committed to cruising in something that attracted him from the start. He loves the Ford Maverick, and makes no apologies for it.

Look what Derrick has done to this thrifty '73 Ford sedan rocketship. Just for fun, a custom-built 302-inch mill with '66 289 heads fitted with 1.94/1.60-inch valves and 53cc chambers. On top, Comp Cams 1.6:1 roller rockers motivated by an aggressive Lunati hydraulic camshaft. Forged JE 8.5:1 pistons squeeze the mixture carefully because we're dealing with small chambers in the vintage Mustang heads. We're also dealing with nitrous and the potential for supercharging later on. Derrick had to carefully consider every aspect of his engine's architecture, including fuel delivery, spark timing, and compression.

Derrick went with a pinch of overkill to help keep things safe: a 750-cfm double-pumper Holley on top of a Holley 174 Power Charger super charger manifold, just to make sure the 302 stays well fed while under the gun of nitrous-oxide. A Mallory 140 fuel pump and regulator keep the Holley supplied under the most demanding conditions. Derrick trusted no less than MSD to provide the high-energy spark-MSD's Blaster coil to blaze a thundering void through the gasoline and nitrous mixture. Mallory's time-proven Unilite distributor, coupled with MSD's BTM ignition controller, gets the job done reliably. Taylor 8mm ignition wires route high-energy current to the spark plugs. Derrick also placed his trust in the NX Nitrous Express Phase 3 twin-plate system with an automatic bottle opener. No thinking required, and certainly no waiting. Cool comes from a Griffin aluminum radiator, a 160-degree thermostat, Cool-Flex hoses, and an electric cooling fan. Hedman headers give way to 211/42-inch pipes all the way to the tailpanel. Magnaflow XL performance mufflers deliver a throaty persona.

A powerful 302 needs a driveline that can stand up to the punishment of nitrous power. In the tunnel is a C4 Select-Shift transmission working hand-in-hand with a 3.50:1 9-inch-large bearing housing fitted with 31-spline Moser axles and 3-inch screw-in studs. In the middle, a nodular iron chunk with a Traction-Lok differential takes anything Derrick can toss at it. A Continental 10-inch torque converter multiplies the twist with a 2,800-rpm stall speed. Art Carr gears improve the hole shot.

Down under, Derrick needed a chassis that would compliment the powertrain. A relatively stock suspension system is fitted with polyurethane bushings and KYB gas shocks. A 1-inch front sway bar with polyurethane bushings controls body roll. TMC 620 coils control the action in front.

Wilwood binders are exactly what you would expect from Derrick, who is as disciplined in his chassis logic as he is with the engine and driveline. Those are cross-drilled Wilwood Dynalite Pro-Series 11.75-inch front disc brakes. In back, the same thing, with a Wilwood Pro-Series parking brake kit. Derrick has thought of everything.

On the ground, Bridgestone Potenza 245/40/17s in front, wrapped around 17x7-inch Boyd Coddington Dictators. In back, 255/45/18 (yes, 18 and loving it) on 18x8-inch Dictators. Derrick had to roll the fender lips to clear the Potenzas.

Inside, strict attention to detail-Cobra Daytona seats wrapped in rich leather with Sparco four-point harnesses for safety. Derrick upholstered the rear seat the same way for uniformity. That's a Dino leather-wrapped steering wheel. Auto Meter instrumentation provides important information. A Panasonic CQ-CC8400U system with a removable face-plate feeds the thunder to CJ-DA6910 6x9-inch and CJ-DA1000 4-inch two-way speakers. Auto Custom carpet provided the thick, plush carpeting. Billet window cranks compliment the Maverick's otherwise utilitarian door panels.

We like the Hella H4 headlamp conversions with Koito White Beam H4 lamps and the smoked taillights. APR carbon fiber mirrors look sharp and functional, as does the custom carbon-fiber hood.

Derrick has answered the Maverick challenge respectfully and with precision. This is an exercise in how to build a restomod that isn't mainstream, yet it is something you'd be proud to own. Derrick demonstrates to most of us that you can build wonderful imagination into just about anything, and keep the populous coming back for more-just like Ford did in 1970.