1970 Ford Maverick

In 1973, I found myself living at Camp Drum, NY where the US Army had sent me on temporary duty for 8-9 months. I was there with 23 other guys from Fort Dix, NJ and some of them had driven up in their own cars. There was lots to do in that area during off-duty hours so a car would come in handy. I hadn't thought about getting one until our base photographer mentioned that he was selling his 1970 Ford Maverick and that caught my interest.

I remember when the Maverick was introduced in 1969. It was advertised at $1,995 which, even as young person with little money, seemed almost affordable. When one arrived at Queen City Motors, on the corner of Bellflower and E 23rd St. in Long Beach, I stopped in to look at it on my way home from high school. I thought it looked pretty cool and it was the simplest of machines. So, here we are, years later, in late-June 1973, and I bought this 1970 Maverick for, I think, $1,200, got it licensed and insured, and I was no longer stuck on the base.

I was able to to lots of sightseeing that summer now that I had transportation. I made several trips to Alexandria Bay, a tourist town at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. From there is was a short hop across the 1,000 Island Bridge to Kingston, Ontario. I did a day-trip to Montreal, saw Lake Placid, Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagra Falls. Trips to Watertown and Glen Park were made frequently.

My duty assignment there ended in the fall of 1974 and I headed back to Fort Dix, NJ but rather than back to the barracks I had an apartment off-base in Browns Mills, NJ. While back in New Jersey I did quite a few side trips to get more out of that region: Seaside Heights, Atlantic City, Lakehurst, and into Pennsylvania to Philadephia, Valley Forge, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, and Landcaster's Amish country. I also did a few days in Washington, DC. Everything is relatively close together there, within a 2 hour drive. The Maverick always ran great.

In July 1974, I came in to work one day and was informed that our company, in fact our entire battalion, was being dissolved and everyone was being reassigned. I went to the big list, found my service number, read across the sheet, and found that I was headed to Germany, reporting there in about 4-weeks. In the time before I left, I had to get disconnected from everything stateside and then fly to Europe with only my duffle bag. I didn't want to sell the car and, since I wanted to visit family in Southern California before I'd be gone for the next 14-months, I drove that Maverick cross country, about 2,900 miles. Summer, no air conditioning, AM radio. What's not to like? The car ran great the whole way. I have a collection of images shot mostly out the car window of that trip here.

I returned to Southern California in November of 1975. During my absence an "friend" had used the car and had a minor mishap of some kind. Once I got that fixed it was back in shape again. I did an upgrade and added an 8-track player and speakers, my old Craig/Pioneer 3121 that had been stored in my dad's garage. Other than that, the car was just a good driver. It received the occassional tune-up and just kept going.

I took it on a few trips to Death Valley, a great place to go camping over the fall, Thanksgiving holiday. It's cool there and only a 4-hour drive from where I lived. One of my favorite drives there is through Titus Canyon, a winding, narrow, single-lane road, past lots of old mining sites, shown on the right. I made this trip a few times. The road into the canyon indicates that it's a 4-wheel drive region but the Maverick never had a problem through there.

Life for the Maverick wasn't totally with problems though. I was coming home from somewhere late one evening and came upon a traffic accident. The police had the 2-lane street blocked and were letting cars go by a few at a time around the wreckage. When I'd moved to the front of the line, the oncoming car that the police had initially stopped, gassed it, drove past the officer, and sideswiped my car. He kept going so one of the patrol cars took up the chase and came back with him handcuffed in that back seat, arrested for drunk driving. I had a damaged left-rear quarter panel and a bent bumper, as shown in the photo to the right. He had no insurance but when he went to court the judge ordered restitution and he paid for the damage in installments over the next year and half.

In another wreck, and this one was a doozy, I was on my way home from working the nightshift at the photofinishing lab. I approached an intersection, somewhere around Cherry Ave. and Anaheim St., and since I had the green light I proceeded on through. About the time I entered the intersection, a car came through on the right on their red light. I slammed on the brakes and t-boned them. They kept going. I got out and surveyed the damage and found there was a bunch. Add to that I was leaking anti-freeze. About that time I looked down Cherry Ave. and her she comes, driving right past me. I yelled for her to stop but she kept on going. However, I got her plate and, after moving my car out of the street, I walked to a pay phone and called the police and gave them a description and her plate number. A few minutes later a patrol car pulls up. I told him it was a hit and run and he asked if I was covered by insurance. I told I was and he said that since I had insurance and since he was getting off-shift, why not just let my insurance take care of it. OK, whatever.

The story doesn't end there.

I think it was later that day, I get a call from my mother. She said that the police are looking for me and gave me a number to call. (My car registration still showed their address.) I told her about the accident and then called the police. The guy I talked to said he needed me to come down to the station and talk about this hit and run. OK, I'll be there in 15-minutes. When I got to the station they sent me up to one of the upper floors and from there I was taken into one of those interrogation rooms. The detectives came in, asked for my license to verify who I was, and then read me my rights as they tell me I am being accused of hit and run. What?!? Yes, a woman called in a couple hours ago, gave my plate information, and said that I'd run a red light and crashed into her before taking off. No, no, no, that's not how it happened and I explained my side. When I told them that I'd called it in a few minutes after the wreck and a patrol car had shown up, he and his partner looked at each other and then told me to wait. After a bit, they came and said they checked with communications and, yes, I'd called it in a few hours before she did and, yes, I'd talked to the patrol officer, and I was now free to go.

That story doesn't end there.

A few day later, a neighbor calls me up and said that there was a guy in front of our apartment building who wanted to talk to me. My apartment was on a private walkway on the side of the building so it wasn't obvious where my place was if you just showed up at the front. So, I go out to see who it is and it turns out that it's the husband of the woman I was in the wreck with. I thought, uh-oh, this could get ugly, but he wasn't mad at me. He told me that his wife was in trouble with both him and the police for lying about the accident but he didn't have any insurance. The police told I was insured and what he wanted to know was, GET THIS, if I had uninsured motorist coverage that would fix his car for him. NO KIDDING! I tried to explain that uninsured motorist insurance only covers medical and doesn't cover the other party anyway. He seemed a bit disappointed but still wasn't really angry with me and that's how we left it. I don't remember how I went about getting the car fixed but I am pretty sure that I was insured so after deductable it was covered and the car was repaired.

In another adventure, I'd gone to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert and on the way home I was on the transition ramp from the Long Beach Freeway to the San Diego Freeway when the car just started running rough and then quit. I coasted to the shoulder, tried to restart it but it was a no go. I don't remember how I got in touch with my dad but he showed up with a tow strap and we dragged the car to his place. The next day we discovered that the distributor shaft had given up. A trip to the auto parts store provided a new distributor and the car was soon back on the road.

Well into the meantime, I'd left my job at the photo lab and was working at Colley Engineers and Constructors in Gardena. I drove the Maverick on poor weather days but I usually rode my Honda CB750 motorcycle, splitting lanes on the San Diego Freeway on the commute. One day the boss came in my office and gave me keys to a company truck, a Chevy Luv. He said it was a perk and would rather see me coming to work everyday in that than commuting on my Honda CB750 motorcycle. It didn't take long before I figured out that I didn't need the Maverick anymore and sold it to my dad. He was wanting a car project and ended up doing the body work it needed and painting it as well. After a while he sold it but I don't remember where it went.

Yes, me next to the Maverick, 1973.

Parked next to my office at Camp Drum.

It was pretty shiney when I got it in 1973.

August 1973.

A New Jersey ice storm, 1973.

It snowed too, 1974.

Fall of 1975.

Me and my 3 rides, 1978.

The Maverick out there in Death Valley in November 1976.

After the hit and run crash.

Click here to view the gallery of photos from the cross country trip.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Updated March 2021.