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FORDMUSCLE.com
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Ford Maverick of Brazil
Ford of Brazil was in a tight spot in 1970. The Corcel was one of the most popular cars then. It also built the most prestigious and luxurious Brazilian car, the Ford Galaxie, made as a 4-door only. Though the Galaxie was V8 powered, it was just to big to create much excitement in stock form. The mid-range sedan at the time was the ancient Ford Aero, in fact it was a modified version of the Aero-Eagle that Kaiser-Willys had started building in the USA way back in 1954. Needless to say, Ford was looking to replace the aging model and I could see why.


Meanwhile, Chevrolet of Brazil had been making the Opala since 1968 and it was proving to be very popular in both the 2-door and 4-door models. There was however an opportunity here since the largest motor available was the 250 cubic inch I-6. By comparison, this was large for the Brazilian market but Ford new a small block V8 would really make an impact.

As an admirerer of musclecars with swoopy body styles, the Opala is one of the more sexy vehicles you'll see frequently in Brazil. I found the one pictured here in a wrecking yard although there are many on the road. The Opala body style has changed only slighty since 1968. In 1970, Ford was ready to answer to the Opala.

Through a consumer study, select Ford customers were invited to banquet hall where there were four cars, all painted in white and with all badges removed. In attendence were the German Ford Taunus (not Taurus), the Chevrolet Opala, the Ford Corcel, and the American Ford Maverick. Consumers were given a form with critical marketing questions. Once tabulated, the winner was... the Ford Taunus! As I mentioned earlier, Brazilians have long favored compact economical cars because of gas prices being twice the american price. For this reason, the Taunus was chosen by the majority of the costumers surveyed. That was bad news for Ford. The early seventies were the "economic miracle" years for Brazil and all automakers were preparing new models for the upcoming 1973 Sao Paulo Auto Show and Ford couldn't be left behind. The Taunus meant many problems for Ford. Production of the 2.3 OHC four was slated for 1975, until then there was no Ford engine made in Brazil that could fit the chassis. Besides that, its' independent rear suspension with coil springs would demand a high tooling investment. However, the Maverick could utilize the ancient Aero Willys 3.0 liter six-cylinder and its live rear axle. As a result, the top brass at Ford of Brazil decided to go ahead with the Maverick. So much for expensive consumer surveys.

After some last minute modifications the Maverick was launched at the 1973 Sao Paulo Auto Show in May, as a 1974 model. It looked nearly identical to the 1970 American model with contoured bumpers. The bumpers weren't changed for the whole production run since Brazil never passed bumper laws. Mavericks were available in three models: the base Maverick Super had the 3.0 six, a four speed manual with column shifter and a bench seat. The Super Luxo was basically the same, but with more chrome, separated bucket seats, pile carpeting and an AM radio. But the one to remember and revere was the Maverick GT. It came with the 302, 4-speed manual, stiffened suspension, and 14x6 wheels with D70 Wide Ovals. The only options available on the GT were metallic paint and power assisted steering. Outwardly it was distinguished by black stripes on its sides, the "302 V8" inscripted in them, rectangular driving lights in front of the grille and matte black paint on the top of the hood bulge.


The V8 engine was also optional on the Super Luxo, and with it a host of other options were available, like the recirculating ball steering, a choice of either the four-on-the-floor or three-speed column shifter manuals and the GT suspension. Also available on the Super Luxo V8 were power steering and a three-speed auto. The V8 engine came from the factory with the Motorcraft carb, a low 7.5:1 compression ratio (Brazilian gas was awful back then), a single exhaust and a tall 3.08 rear end. Even so, the most respected car magazine in Brazil tested a GT and clocked it at 11.5 seconds in 0-to-60 acceleration and a 111 mph top speed. In '73 and '74 the GT would reign as the fastest production car in Brazil.


The Maverick sold well on its first two years, it was bigger than the average Brazilian car and Ford directed its marketing to the 30 to 40 year old male who wanted comfortable and prestigious personal transportation, much like the Thunderbird or the Monte Carlo here in the US. Most units sold were 2-door Super Luxos. Ford of Brazil quietly discontinued the Maverick in 1979, leaving all Brazilian Ford performance fans orphans. The Maverick is a legend there today.

Conclusion
Today, most cars in Brazil have four cylinder engines in the 1.0 to 2.0 liter range. This is the reason why V8 Mavericks are considered true Brazilian musclecars. A true testament to the legendary status of these cars in Brazil was the fact that my my teenage cousins knew so much about them. During my trip we were determined to find one on the road but had no such luck, reminding me that collectors in Brazil are a rare breed. As American Ford hobbyists we should pay special respect to the Brazilain Ford enthusiast who is tapping all available resources to keep their classic Ford on the road. It's not until you travel abroad do you realize the resources we have available to us as hobbysits here in the United States. So next time you find a Brazilian Maverick owner looking for help in the FM forums be sure to offer whatever advice you can.

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Man with Horns.
In Brazil bull horns are not a symbol of virility as in they are here in the United States. Instead, a "man with horns" in Brazil is a man who's been betrayed by his wife, the same going for women. Obviously, Ford removed the horns from all Maverick badges to avoid any cultural misinterpretation. Ford pulled the horns from the fender badges even though you can still see that the "V" was looking to accomodate something.


Footnote: A Brazilian might get a real laugh watching an American Football game, especially the Minnesota Vikings, whose fans often parade around in Helmets with horns. Perhaps, the Viking fan pictured below was recently "betrayed" by his wife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Ford Maverick of Brazil (1996). by Erensto Franzen


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