On The Road With Johnny B ..A Young Man Finds Freedom In A Ford Maverick
I never had a chance. As young child to keep me busy my Mom would put Matchbox Cars in my crib. She would tell me in later years that I didn’t stop playing with cars for hours. Funny I still play with cars. Being old car addicted has no cure nor do I seek one. As my teenage years approached I discovered Car and Driver Magazine. In the early 1970′s stories from Brock Yates and David E Davis filled my skull with adventures of fast cars and Cannonball Runs. I still call those days “The Glory Years” of car magazines. When I was 14 years old my father’s friend Randy showed up in our driveway with a spanking new Triumph TR6. My jaw dropped with car lust. I never had a chance. As my driving years came closer..you could drive at 16 then. It was time to plan out my first car. After a summer of washing pots at a steamy Italian Restaurant I saved up $500.00 to purchase a 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster Convertible.
I had great intentions with the drop top Stovebolt Chevy but empty pockets soon halted my grand plans. My first car I actually drove places was a torn and worn 1971 Ford Maverick Two Sport Roof. Sport Roof in Ford talk means a fastback. The Ford Maverick was introduced in 1969 as the replace for the aging Falcon. Oddly most of the mechanical working were tried and true Falcon bits. Being of sound body but not of sound mind I chose a $200.00 special with more rot than the Titanic. Being able to see the ground was kinda fun while driving till I hit a huge puddle and soaked myself. I guess that’s why God invented sheet metal and rivets.
The 200 inline 6 ran good but used a little oil. By a little I mean I could go crop dusting with it. A mixture of 50 weight oil and STP seem to do the proper clogging to stop some of the crop dusting. From the go the Maverick was made to be basic transportation. By basic we mean..no glove box, no power steering or brakes and heat that made Ice Station Zebra seem warm. The interior looked live a Wild Boar had chewed on it. A visit to STM Auto Parts and a purchase of fake fur seat covers fixed the problem, giving the Maverick the proper Huggy Bear treatment.
Despite having holes in the floor, an interior that looked like a brothel and more plastic in it than a Bayliner the Maverick was a young mans transport to new and wonderful places. Even with the sheet metal floor flapping in the wind I was cruising in style. In my mind I was David E Davis on a story for Car and Driver. Long before people cruised the Cyber Highway pubescent lads drove to points of interests and passions. Not that I drove the Maverick to Alaska or anything but it opened up me to new places just a few miles from my home. The Maverick would start, run, drive, kinda stop and would fly 4 feet up in the air when launched off Croatan Hill.
I went to my first drive in movie with a girl in it. My first prom. My first traffic ticket. My first burnout. My first breakup. My first getting back together after a break up. My first getting lost in New York City. My first sunset and sunrise all in the same evening. Funny how old cars become part of the memory of your life. My family had three Mavericks over a 10 year span. All of the wonderful and horrible all at once. My Dad drove my Ole Maverick for another 5 years after I let her go. He used it as a car and dog kennel. Pouring 50w oil and STP in it till the ravages of an extra cold winter took its and the sheet metal floor collapsed on The Long Island Expressway. This crazy sickness I have with old cars has transported my life to people and places that I thank God for everyday. All of this started with a blue Ford Maverick with holes in the floor. As my friend Anna says “You have a problem” ..When it comes to old cars and grand stories I truly do have a problem..I guess I never had a chance.