“The idea was to unite the passion for the muscle V8 and the power of the 4×4”, said vehicle customizer Rodrigo Otávio Nascimento, from Curitiba (PR), owner of the Ford Maverick Monster, when asked why he gave the Mavecão huge tires and jeep traction.
The Ford Maverick arrived in Brazil in 1973 with the mission to face the Chevrolet Opala. With a look inspired by American muscle cars - the country of origin of its manufacturer -, the model quickly gained space in the market, which was dominated by Volkswagen's air-cooled models.
During its trajectory here, it was equipped with 99 hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines, 112 hp 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines and the famous 197 hp 5.0-liter V8. The latter was intended to contain the offensive of the Dodge imports. And it is precisely he who moves the protagonist of this story.
According to the customizer, the idea for the project came even before purchasing the Ford. The dream of riding a muscle 4×4 came true at the beginning of this century, when, in 2000, Rodrigo acquired the Maverick SL 1976 in red.
The color was the first surprise of the project. “When I bought it it was already red, but I discovered that the original color was yellow,” said the owner. But, as can be seen in the photos kindly provided by Pyetra Nascimento – Rodrigo's daughter -, the red was kept.
At the beginning of the construction of the Mavecão 4×4, Nascimento was only 20 years old and used the techniques learned in 4×4 mechanics, in which he worked during the day, to continue the construction of the jeep at night.
It is common for trail customizations to occur by joining the body of the intended vehicle to a spar chassis structure that already has the manual transmission box with 4×4 and reduced traction.
The reason is simple: robustness. The spar chassis – which is the basis for the construction of medium-sized pickup trucks sold in Brazil – is more “stout” than the monoblock, which makes up the popular models sold in the domestic market. The fact of having the transmission suitable for off-road is the facilitator that reduces the number of adaptations during the manufacturing process.
In the case of Maverick, the customizer kept the structure of the model and made slight adaptations to fit all its items. “It doesn't have a [spar] chassis. I bought the car and, during the restoration, I was acquiring the parts for the transformation. Many other parts I made myself,” he said.
The first stage was the funilaria. Then came the adaptations for the car to receive an engine, gearbox, traction, suspension, steering and protection cage. The latter, according to the owner, is primarily responsible for keeping the car safe and is linked to the entire unibody structure – which is original.
“Everything is interconnected in the inner cage, which served as a substructure to reinforce the car's structure. It's like an internal chassis. From the front, in the fixing of the engine and gearbox, to the rear of the car at the towing point, passing through the entire suspension”, said Rodrigo.
The project's recipe is juicy. It starts with the aforementioned 197 hp V8 engine. This thruster configuration is original to the Mavericks of the time, but the engine of the Maverick Monster 4×4 came from a Ford Landau, which also used the 302 of the so-called American “small blocks”.
It is combined with the five-speed manual transmission of the North American Ford F1000 – with an overdrive system in place of the fifth gear -, which replaces the traditional four-speed manual transmission with floor drive, original to the SL at the time.
The traction and reduced system comes from the Willys family jeeps, but, to allow its activation, Rodrigo manufactured a phalanx.
With that, the old powertrain that made the Maverick accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 11 seconds gave way to brute force. And one of the main signs that muscle has abandoned the tracks to venture off road is the suspension system.
The set with independent front axle and the rigid axle type rear with helical springs gave way to fourlink and leaf-spring systems, respectively. Another change is in the wheel sets, which swapped the traditional 235/60 R14 tires for off-road models with an incredible 35 inches in diameter.
The new sets are attached to Rural Willys' Dana 44 axles, which replaced the Ford originals. And if you think it's over, you're wrong.
Rodrigo also installed a clutch with hydraulic actuator and adapted the Chevrolet Omega's hydraulic steering to lighten all the weight of the project when driving on the trail.
Asked about the difficulties in assembling the project, the owner says that there were no problems, because even though the parts used are from different vehicles, the fitting was done easily.
“Everything fit like a glove. It even looked like the car already had a preparation for such an upgrade, even though I had elaborated and developed all the parts”, said Nascimento.
There were so many changes that the owner got lost in the expense accounts. Asked about the value of the investment, he estimates that “today it would not cost less than R$ 100 thousand”.
The entire construction took 12 years. According to him, the vehicle impressed because, in the first test on land, it did the circuit without problems. “On the first trip, we went to a distant trail and he behaved impressively, without any problem”, he said.
With the vehicle already assembled, plans for the future focus on two issues. The first is the long-awaited regularization, which he has been looking for for a long time, but which has its obstacles because, according to him, the changes made to the Maverick are usually only accepted in pickup trucks.
The next step is… to sell the Monster 4×4. That's right! Eight years after completing the project and using it in his adventures, Rodrigo believes that the time has come to move the Mavecão Lameiro forward.
The order is R$ 120 thousand. And, according to the owner, “the Maverick is in running order. Just accelerate!”