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1970 Ford Maverick - Street Strip Build

Updated on August 23, 2017

The Maverick-True Shorthorn Ford Musscle

Known for having an additional 18 inches of parking space over other American automobiles of its time, the Ford Maverick was clearly one of a kind. The 200 CID inline 6 was the standard engine of the Ford Maverick for most of its lifecycle. However, in order to keep up with muscle car demands, during 1971 a Ford 302 small block became an option. Conveniently these cars proved to be just the right size for such an engine.

In his teenage years the Mad Scientist could be found in a friend's garage with his mother's Maverick swapping out engines overnight in order to make it to the races for the weekend. Well, up until she found out what he was doing with her car that is.IAs with most individuals life happened and the Mad Scientist had to sell his cars, engines, parts, and other toys in order to take care of his family. As of July 2012, the Mad Scientist was given an opportunity to get back into building racing powered Ford 302 Cars with his son and his 1984 Mercury Capri. However, it was not until later that year (August 2012) he was able to acquire the car he wished he never sold. Thanks to some help from his daughter in law and some new technology (Craigslist), the Mad Scientist was able to purchase his very own 1970 Ford Maverick for $1000!

1970 Ford Maverick

A brief History of this car

The original owner was clearly going for a specific look when they owned the car. If you are familiar with Mavericks you may notice the awkward looking side-pipes, fake fender louvers, and strange round taillight sockets. Inside the car there was even a Cobra snake decal on the highly uncommon glove box.

However, according to the previous owner the car saw some hard times during its life. This particular 1970 Ford Maverick seemed to be attracted to water as it went diving in an Ohio flood some thirty years ago. After the waters receded the car was pulled from the swamp mud and placed in a barn to sit for some year. Later the car was sold in a property auction and then later acquired by none other than the Mad Scientist. When we first saw the car the exterior looked manageable. However after a closer inspection we came to realize that the entire car seemed to be completely covered in a ¼ inch of dried mud. Conveniently the mud seemed to preserve the metal of the car as opposed to destroying it over the years. We finally came to conclude that there would be very minimal body work needed to repair the car.

The 1970 Maverick Starting Point

The 1970 Maverick Starting Point
The 1970 Maverick Starting Point

Original 200 CID I6 in the 70's Maverick

Original 200 CID I6 in the 70's Maverick
Original 200 CID I6 in the 70's Maverick
1970 Ford Maverick Parts
1970 Ford Maverick Parts

1970 Ford Maverick Square One

Initial Steps

The day after picking up any car to be worked on is usually the most interesting. Why? It is because it is the first day you actually get to dig into what you have got. (Hopefully without disappointment) As mentioned earlier, this particular 1970s Ford Maverick has been known for its fair share of deep sea diving during an Ohio flood some years ago. Although the body seemed to be in great condition, we still needed to remove about a quarter inch of swamp mud that lined pretty much the entire interior of the car. The Mad Scientist and I started by removed a great deal of various additional Maverick engine and body parts found in the trunk along with removing the split bench seat and rear seat. The Mad Scientist then tried to suck the mud out of the car with the shop vac. As it just so happens, this decision was not one of his best. The shop vac turned the mud into powder and blasted it out of the rear vent causing a swamp mud tornado!

After unintentionally sucking down some Ohio swamp mud the Mad Scientist and I decided to break out the Big Guns! With the car still on the trailer, we drove it down to the local car wash and the crap out of the car with some high pressure soapy water. No stone on this car went un-turned. Not only was the outside of the car sprayed, but the engine compartment, under carrage, inner trunk, inner door, and even floorboards where sprayed. Unfortunately we did somehow find a way to miss the inside of the glove box. (not sure how that happened)

At the Car Wash!

At the Car Wash!
At the Car Wash!
Maverick Doing Wheelie
Maverick Doing Wheelie

1970 Ford Maverick Purpose

Why build a Ford Maverick

The purpose for building this 1970 Ford Maverick is simple. Although the car itself holds no sentimental value the Mad Scientist's experiences within one do. So what I and the Mad Scientist are trying to do is swap the original 200 CID I6 commonly found in our 1970 Maverick for a slightly scaled up Ford 302.

Why would we even ask.

The answer is simple. Outside of clear mechanical issues with the original motor We want to go FAST. If you have checked out the 84 Mercury Capri - Foxbody Project page you may already know our ulterior motives. With some significant upgrades to the axle, transmission, and motor we are looking to have both the 84 Capri and this 1970 Ford Maverick pull some Wicked wheel stands.

'70 Ford Maverick Goal A Wicked Wheel Stand!

The 1970 Maverick Powerplant

The 1970 Maverick Powerplant
The 1970 Maverick Powerplant
Pulling the old I6 and tranny
Pulling the old I6 and tranny

I6 to v8 Engine Swap

More Muscle for the Maverick

After spending a significant amount of time pulling motors out of my car, we were able to quickly pull the 200 CID I6 out of the 70's Maverick. The car originally had a manual transmission (3-on-the-Tree). Not something that you see anymore. Or at least I never saw-for that matter.

Regardless, the engine and transmission was pulled in about an hour while the car sat in the driveway.

The only real pieces of the car that gave us any problems were the Shelby Cobra side-pipes add-ons that were previously attached to the car. The side-pipes made getting under the car-even with a jack-fairly difficult. Regardless everything else seemed to come apart with relative ease.

Unlike pulling the motor from my Capri, the motor in the Maverick was pretty much devoid of any fluids except those trapped in the transmission and axle. Therefore there was no need to place any fluid catching devices under the car when pulling out the old block.

1970 Maverick Parts Search

Differences between 70's and 80's part hunting

When the 1970 Ford Maverick finally rolled into the garage to be worked on it came with a little relief that it would not be outside all winter. The Mad Scientist and I were able to quickly tear down the car for easy improvement, and modification assessment. Although hammering dents and welding metal was easy the real difficult part was finding parts!

Most of the parts to be used in the 1970 Maverick street strip build was acquired as used products. For any of you that don't know what that means, it means there was junk yard hopping to be done. Arguably one of the most interesting car parts shopping experience of my life included wading through waist high weeds in order to get to-literally-a half buried car in which the Mad Scientist had to decide on what parts he wanted from it. Not to mention battling a heard of sheep in order to prevent them from leaving a confined area while I exited the yard. If I had known what I was in for I would have brought a high powered lawn mower, a foghorn, and means for unburying the donor car. Interestingly enough the Mad Scientist came out with a completely useful 8" Ford posi axle. Other parts hunting endeavors included getting lost in a relatively close proximity to a destination address to pick up motors, transmissions, and even Tenzo Racing bucket seats.

The Mad Scientist's methods for parts acquisition differ from mine as I would likely wait until I had enough money to purchase a single item and have it deliver directly to my door. The benefits to obtaining parts is that they are generally guaranteed to work the first time, no need to wade through weeds (or anything else for that matter), potentially increased performance. However, what the Mad Scientist's methods lack is significantly made up for in price. As of January 16, 2013, the Mad Scientist's 1970 Maverick is nearly complete, and he has only spent $3,000 (which includes the price of the car)! That is right, the Mad Scientist has a completely solid car, Ford 302 sb engine, C4 Transmission, 8" Ford posi axle, and custom interior for less than $5,000!

Whose method do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below.


Ford Maverick Taillight Conversion

Swapping out Maverick tail lights

One of the first modifications done to the Ford Maverick was to remove the pre-modified rear can tail lights. Although the Mad Scientist and I some ideas as to what the previous owners were going for with these it was a look we did not want. So they had to go. The intent of removing the can-lights was to hopefully replace them with the original Maverick tail lights. However, after removing the cans we realized that it would be far more work to rebuild the body to fit the smaller tail lights. So, we had to make a decision. The decision was to go full custom. This means that we would be finishing off the car with items that would fit best. So instead of putting original 1970s Maverick tail lights into the rear, the rear can-light receptacles were replaced with Ford Torino tail lights.

Lots of people argue that the teardrop Torino tail lights don't fit or are simply unlikeable. On the other hand, several Maverick owners in Brazil and Portugal found a way to make the conversion quite tasteful. However for the Mad Scientist and I, the Torino tail lights fit the car quite well.

A More Modified Maverick - Modifying the 1970 Ford Maverick Ground Pounder

Automobiles of all shapes and sizes are no stranger to light and heavy modifications. However, regardless of the owners disposition on such modifications there always seems to be a hand full of people that simply don't share the same tastes. Some people like square headlights others like round and some like stock looks where others prefer large spoilers and hood scoops. So, where do find yourself.

If faced with the same decision...

Would you modify the Maverick of try to keep it stock looking?

Ford Super Swap
Ford Super Swap

Maverick - Hard Parts

SuperSwap for Ford Parts

Looking for Maverick parts and pieces can be rather tricky because the cars and parts are simply not made any more. With limited resources for building up the Maverick, the Mad Scientist and I decided to take a trip to Ohio during the United Ford Owners SuperSwap in Columbus, OH (2012).

Unfortunately we were unable to attend the meet until the final day (Sunday), but we were able to leave Columbus with some much needed parts for making the build a little easier. I was able to pick up a TFI distributor for my 302, but more importantly the Mad Scientist was able to come across a set of tail lights, a bumper, and a Maverick parts catalogue. If you are into fast ford or if you are just looking for some ford parts for your project, I would recommend stopping by the annual United Ford Owners SuperSwap in Ohio if you are in the area.

1970 Ford Maverick Tools - Maintinance and Repair

It use to be said that Ford Mavericks where sold with a set of wrenches in the glove box, and that those wrenches where all you needed to fix most anything on the entire car. After tearing most of the Mad Scientist's 1970 Ford Maverick apart myself I can see the validity in that statement. Although not the best garage in the world, the B3R garage is stocked with enough tools to work on most any late model automobile. However, when working on the '70s Maverick it seemed as though I was using the same three wrenches for almost everything. So, if you find yourself interested or in the process of working on a Ford Maverick feel free to put any and all of those weird metric tools on a back shelf somewhere. All you will need is a few standard wrench sizes.


Axels an inch apart

Acquiring an ideal axle for the 70's Maverick

When it comes to building a street/strip car from scratch there are several aspects to consider. One such aspect is how much money you are willing to pour into the project. With financial capital issues pressing the importance of this particular car build, the Mad Scientist was more than willing to swing for an older, and used rear axle rather than forking over the funds for a new one. After meeting some interesting characters with scrap yards of their own at a local parts swap meet, the Mad Scientist was able to come across a (less than perfect) parts donor car. The car was a 1971 Ford Grabber. Talk about convenient. Although the car was almost half buried in the earth, the questionable parts quality was well worth the price (Should anything be usable).

The Mad Scientist seemed to have hit some luck when he soon discovered that a Ford 8"-Five lug Rear axle was pulled out from under the old Maverick. Even better yet, after my brother (Mr. Bowtie) checked it out we discovered that it was a posi track 8".

The Mad Scientist took it upon himself to completely tear down the axle and rebuild it entirely with new parts. Unfortunately due to limited funds, the axle will be rebuild with its original drum brakes. The Mad Scientist even went so far as to paint the rear axle Ford Blue to match the rest of the suspension on his 1970 Ford Maverick.

The 8" Ford Rear Axle will replace the original puny 7" for rear axle that was originally bolted up to the I6.

Crush Washers

Be sure to use NEW (One Time Use ) Crush Washers when putting any Ford axle back together, and not just any old washer lying around.

The New 8" Ford Axle

The New 8" Ford Axle
The New 8" Ford Axle

A Set of Wheels for the Maverick - 15"x7" and 15"x 10.5"

The Mad Scientist's Ford Maverick was in desperate need of a way to wheel it around after the new 8" rear end was installed. Fortunatly, he was in some luck when an individual selling us the Maverick's motor and transmission mentioned that he only had a set of two 10" Cragar rims in his scrap pile. This naturally spiked my interest and I had him show them to me. The wheels were in good shape. There was no bends, holes, or curb rash! However, the chrome was chipped in various places and beginning to show signs of rust. So, I had the Mad Scientist throw the rims in the back of the truck as well. Heck the guy showing them to us was simply going to take them to a scrap yard. After a few months of neglect in the back of the truck, the Mad Scientist finally took the rims out, masked them, sanded them, and gave them a fresh coat of paint.

Building a Better Block Plate - If you can't buy it Fabricate it!

1970 Ford Maverick Block Plate
1970 Ford Maverick Block Plate

I would not go so far as to call the Mad Scientist "cheap", but he definitely prefers to fully utilize what is on hand before having to buy new. That being said, the Mad Scientist's 1970 Ford Maverick is being built almost entirely on used parts and anything else simply lying around the garage at the time. One of the first issues we had was that the Mad Scientist was in possession of a C4 transmission with larger removable bellhousing than what could be used for his available torque converter.

We eventually came to believe that the only remedy for this issue was to simply fork out a few hundred dollars and buy an appropriate torque converter. However, a few hours of digging through spare parts we were able to come up with an alternative. The alternative was to swap the bellhousing on the transmission with a smaller (useable) bellhousing, and cut down the larger bellhousing block plate. Essentially a block pate is no more than a simple washer placed between the engine block and transmission bellhousing. Within an hour we were able to swap out some parts, and do a little measuring, cutting, and grinding. Finally we ended up with a completely useable transmission & bellhousing, torque converter, and block plate that the 1970s Ford Maverick can use.

If you want to see the steps involved with cutting down a block plate check out the process at B3R Garage.

Holley 750 CFM Street/Strip Carburetor - On the Mad Scientist's Wish List

The Holley 0-76750BL carburetor is on the Mad Scientist's wish list. Years ago the Mad Scientist was well aquainted with the Holley carburetors he put on his small block fords. However, the first firing of his like-new 1970 Ford Maverick required a parts from several different carburetors and Holley rebuild kit. All of the pieces of the FrankienCab fit together quite nicely, but upgrade would be wonderful. So, the Holley 0-76750 carburetor is likely in the cross-hairs of one of the next big purchases for the Mad Scientist's 1970 Ford Maverick.

Holley 0-76750BL 750 CFM Ultra Double Pumper Four Barrel Street/Strip Carburetor - Blue
Holley 0-76750BL 750 CFM Ultra Double Pumper Four Barrel Street/Strip Carburetor - Blue

It is the Ideal Carburetor of the Mad Scientist's 1970 Ford Maverick. It matches the cars Ford 302 SB and automatic transmission and the color matches the car!


The 1970 Maverick Takes its First Breath - Finally getting to turn the key

It has taken about four or five weekends over the period of a three months to get to this point. The Mad Scientist and I have finally been able to shave the Maverick's Shock towers, fabricated a block plate and have raised the intermediate motor mount locations in order to utilized truck motor mounts in the Maverick. A Holley carburetor was thrown together from several different carbs around the garage. Although the car is still lacking a few major components (radiator, alternator, fuel cell/tank) it can now turn over on its own for the very first time. We simply connected the input and output tranny lines with a rubber hose, and dropped a fuel line from the pump into a 5 gallon gas can. This was the end result. It turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

Primering the Maverick - Pumping out two coat of primer in a weekend.

Due to unexpected event in life, the getting the Mad Scientist’s Maverick to a point where it could get prepared for primer and paint took a little longer than expected. However, we were able to eventually get it done. As with the 1984 Capri, unfortunately we do not have access to a quality paint booth. So, we decided to do the painting outside. Who knew? Check out the video above to watch the Mad Scientist bust out functional garage paint job in fast forward!

The Ford Maverick Gets Painted From Bumper to Bumper - Getting a new Coat of Blue

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Mad Scientist spent a weekend spraying his 1970 Ford Maverick with primer and a bright blue paint. We think it turned out okay.This is what the paint job looked like when all the pieces where finally bolted back on the car.
The Mad Scientist spent a weekend spraying his 1970 Ford Maverick with primer and a bright blue paint. We think it turned out okay.
The Mad Scientist spent a weekend spraying his 1970 Ford Maverick with primer and a bright blue paint. We think it turned out okay.
This is what the paint job looked like when all the pieces where finally bolted back on the car.
This is what the paint job looked like when all the pieces where finally bolted back on the car.

The 1970 Maverick fully assembled - The Mad Scientist on the Road

For a while now the Mad Scientist has been driving his 1970 Ford Maverick all over(With the exception of when we had some snow on the ground). So far the Maverick has put on quite a few miles going from place to place showing those who have contributed parts to the project what the final result looks and drives like.

The Maverick has even made it to a few family reunions in the past year. Surprisingly enough, the public seems to have a significant reaction when the Mad Scientist pulls up into an auto parts store. The Mad Scientist has gone from having individuals place offers on the Maverick in parking lots to posing in front of his ride for a photo shoot. on more than one occasion we have parked the car and watched other motorists "Stop paying attention to the road!". So, with all due respect, if you are interested in the Mad Scientist's Maverick by-all-means pull up into a parking lot and feel free to look, take pictures, or ask question, but if you intend to drive on by please pay attention to what is in front of you.

Turning the wheels - It's just a 302

Usually the Mad Scientist is a punctual person. However, since he has been driving his 1970 Maverick around he has been becoming a little less punctual on more than one occasion. Going for rides with the Mad Scientist has shown me how much the public is still interested in awesome muscle cars. We have been stopped on more than one occasion and asked if others could get their picture taken with the Maverick along with having to answer a long line of interesting questions about the car. The Mad Scientist was even offered several thousand dollars for the Maverick just after we had finished rebuilding it. Needless to say, the Maverick is still in our possession. Regardless, the Mad Scientist just wanted to show everyone that his Maverick can do every bit of what he said it would without having to visit every small corner of the world in a weekend. So, check it out and tell us what you think.

The Mad Scientist is still looking forward to converting the stock drum break system into a Willwood disk break system in order to lighten up the car a few hundred pounds.

If you like Ford Mavericks as much as we do be sure to like, tweet, +1, and/or pin it.

If you have any Maverick or Engine swap questions be sure to post them below. The Mad Scientist and I don't have all of the Answers but we might have yours.

Periodically I will be adding short videos of the '70 Ford Maverick being worked on that include body work, primer, painting, engine work, first fire, Dyno testing, and hopefully Drag launching.

Comments, Questions, and/or Suggestions - Feel Free to chime in!

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    • PurpleTurtle LM profile imageAUTHOR

      PurpleTurtle LM 

      4 years ago

      @linda-benavidez-12: Currently it is still a 4-lug with drum brakes all around. The Mad Scientist is looking into converting to disks, but we have not got around to it just yet.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      have you done any thing to the front end or are you still running the 4 lug set up with drum brakes?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @anonymous: the 302 bell housing has a 5 1/4 inch bolt pattern on top two bolt holes. and 6 inch wide on the six cyl . starter is located down low on 302 and up high on +6 if you have a 70 with automatic and its stock its most likely a c3 and not a c4 . is it pan fill or a case fill??? and is it a pump mount bellhousing or a case mount ????

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Would my c4 automatic transmission in my 1970 maverick work if I wanted to fit a 302 in it? What bell housing specific s do y'all have for me?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Would my c4 automatic transmission in my 1970 maverick work if I wanted to put a 302 in it? What bell housing specifics do y'all have for me?

    • PurpleTurtle LM profile imageAUTHOR

      PurpleTurtle LM 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: With as much trouble as the previous car gave us, it was very relaxing to smack the Mad Scientist's 70's Maverick fenders with a hammer a few times. In fact, the day we took the front fenders off the car bit me and took some skin off my knuckle! So smacking the 1970 Ford Maverick around is probably more deserving than I let on. However, the car is coming along, and with everything we do we find a way to make it a little more custom than the original. So, keep an eye on this page if you are interested in how the car is coming along from time to time. We are shooting for having the car derivable by the end of March. That does not leave us much time as we are usually waiting on income, parts, or both. (Take that Television Show deadlines!)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Looks like a lot of fun and work.Will be looking for more pictures


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