Wayne Cook
August 1, 2009
Photos By: Tracy Stocker

As a kid back in the late '70s, Shawn Simpson of Dundee, Michigan, recalls that his father favored Mavericks for the daily commute and Shawn can remember helping his father work on several of them. It was way back then that he fell in love with these little cars (his words) and from then on he has wanted one. By 1992, Shawn had been looking for a Maverick for a long time. One day his father came home and told Shawn about a Maverick Grabber he had seen in Toledo, Ohio. Together they went to Toledo to check it out. It was a little rough around the edges but complete. The Grabber was a steal for $1,000.

Driving the car home the tired engine began to overheat and at that moment the decision was made to rebuild the engine. While Shawn kept the internals fairly stock, the 302 did get better induction via a Holley four-barrel, Offy aluminum intake, and open-element air cleaner assembly. For better cruising Shawn backed the fresh 302 with a LenTech AOD. Based on Ford's popular four-speed automatic overdrive, the LenTech AOD allows for street cruising with the ability to electrically turn off the overdrive for performance driving. The LenTech feeds the Mav's power to a Currie 9-inch, while Hooker Super Comp headers hang off the small-block and make their way into a pair of Flowmasters.

Under the hood the look on Shawn's car is squared away. The engine should be the epitome of smooth dependability and function. With the headers, four-barrel, and Offy intake the Maverick should scoot just fine.

The original Medium Lime Green Metallic paint was pretty well worn and the car also needed bodywork. Shawn had always loved the eye-catching Grabber colors and at first Grabber Blue was on the top of his list. However, he finally settled on Grabber Green and he hasn't regretted it for one moment. Through a friend, Shawn met paint and body expert Verl Nicholes of Temperance, Michigan. Verl performed the bodywork and then painted his car in the unusual emerald hue. Not only did that early experience with his Dad shape the future of his dream car, but his father has also been there to help with many hours of blood, sweat, and toil to make this Maverick what it is today.

With the drivetrain and exterior handled, Shawn moved indoors, where he upgraded the interior with a two-tone black and gray scheme using a pair of Escort GT bucket seats as the centerpiece of the modifications. A '71 Mustang console was laid mid-ship for classic looks and functionality, while some new tunes, courtesy of an in-dash six-disc CD changer project help on the longer trips. A LeCarra full-wrap leather wheel also helps on those long drives. Sun Pro instruments were added to the dash and column for the nostalgic look and for monitoring Shawn's freshly screwed together small-block.

Shawn says that "Maverick folks are very down to earth and genuine," and that when they see his Maverick at a show or cruise night their memories come flooding back. He recounts that in his travels the restored car has caused many conversations. People interested in his Grabber often have stories to tell about their genuine enthusiasm and affection for these straightforward little cars. Indeed it's sometimes forgotten that the Maverick was tremendously popular and even outsold the Mustang at times. Shawn lives near the Motor City and he says that there's nothing like cruising the Woodward Dream Cruise and hearing people on the side of the road saying, "Look there goes a Maverick!" For Shawn that makes it all worthwhile.

This shot gives us a clear understanding of the Maverick's fundamentally excellent styling. Aside from the four-door version, the fastback roofline was the only body style offered, and the car was so popular when introduced that it turned out to be one of Ford's all-time best sellers. The wheelhouses are larger than we might expect and the 17-inch rolling stock seems perfectly sized for the car. The good-looking Grabber package included the choice of grabber color, special hood, and trim striping. These cars were lightweight and with the right engine they made great pocket-sized muscle cars. Shawn weighed his car and found a 3,000-pound curb weight.

The Details
Shawn Simpson's '72 Maverick Grabber

Engine

  • 302 cubic inch V-8
  • 4.030-inch bore (306ci)
  • 3.00-inch stroke
  • Stock crankshaft
  • Stock connecting rods
  • TRW forged aluminum flat-top pistons
  • Ford iron cylinder heads with 1.94/160-inch valves
  • 68cc combustion chamber volume
  • Offenhauser aluminum intake manifold
  • 600 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor
  • Ford Motorsport air cleaner assembly
  • K&N air filter element
  • Mallory ignition
  • Griffin aluminum radiator

    Transmission

  • LenTech Street Terminator Plus AOD four-speed automatic
  • Aluminum driveshaft

    Rearend

  • Currie 9-inch axle
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • 3.70 gears

    Exhaust

  • Hooker Super Comp headers
  • Stainless steel 2¼-inch exhaust system
  • Flowmaster mufflers

    Suspension

  • Front: Rebuilt factory coil spring with OE-type shocks
  • Rear: Rebuilt factory leaf spring with OE-type shocks

    Brakes

  • Front: Lincoln Versailles disc, 11-inch rotor, single-piston caliper
  • Rear: Explorer disc conversion, single-piston caliper

    Wheels

  • Front: Boyd Coddington two-piece polished Smoothie I, 17x8
  • Rear: Boyd Coddington two-piece polished Smoothie I, 17x8

    Tires

  • Front: Sumitomo HTR 45Z, P235/45ZR17
  • Rear: BFGoodrich Comp T/A, P245/35ZR17

    Interior

  • Gray and black custom interior, '88 Escort GT bucket seats, '71 Mustang console, LeCarra steering wheel, Sun Pro tachometer and engine gauges, Craig stereo with six-disc CD changer, trunk mounted 12-inch subwoofer, Painless wiring harness

    Exterior

  • Grabber Green paint and striping by Verl Nichols, Halogen tri-bar headlights

    Maverick Minutiae

  • The Maverick was developed during the mid-'60s and introduced in April of 1969 as a 1970 model. Production continued until 1977. Ford had economy in mind and the Maverick was designed as a Falcon replacement. At introduction, the base price was $1,995. The 170ci six was standard and the 200ci engine was optional. Then the 250ci six was made available as the largest engine for 1970. Transmission choices were a three-speed manual gearbox or a three-speed automatic. When the 302 became available in 1971, five-lug wheels were included on both the 250ci six and V-8 powered versions. The 302-2V was rated at 210 horsepower. Grabber goodies included the special color choices of Bright Yellow, Grabber Blue, Grabber Green, Grabber Yellow, and Vermillion. Also included were a rear spoiler, blacked out flat hood and taillight panel, blacked out grille, all-vinyl interior, Grabber non-reflective stripes, 14-inch wheels and dual sport mirrors. For 1971 and '72 the Grabber package included the dual nostril hood seen on Shawn's car.

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