The Ford Maverick Might Launch A Custom Mini-Truck Revolution
Over the past decade the pickup market has shifted its focus away from the street scene, turning from performance trucks to the off-road world with an ever-increasing spread of trail-ready editions and rugged options packages. This has occurred with both mid-size pickups as well as their full-size brethren, with monsters like the Ram TRX and the Ford Raptor setting the tone.
Photo: Kenneth McCay
Surprisingly, however, one of the most hyped pickup debuts in recent years has little to do with any tough truck persona. The Ford Maverick compact is the first truly small truck since the demise of the original Ford Ranger ten years ago, and it rides onto the scene boasting about its fuel mileage and its modest proportions rather than its ability to churn through mud or climb a rocky trail. Despite walking a different path, it's been a fantastic sales success for the Blue Oval, outpacing the newer, larger Ranger and drawing in buyers who may have never previously considered a truck.
All this enthusiasm for the Maverick has us wondering: are we about to see a mini-truck revolution? There's already evidence that Ford's small pickup play has struck a chord with customizers eager to make a return to the low-and-slow trucks that were once so popular in the '90s and early 2000s.
Small Trucks, Big Impact
Mini trucks grew out of car customization culture, with a focus on esthetics and personal expression rather than all-out performance. At the beginning of the '90s, compact pickups were plentiful and cheap, with brands like Toyota, Isuzu, Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan all putting out popular choices that could be had as stripped-down single cabs that served as the perfect canvas for paint, body, and suspension mods.
These were on top of older models like the Chevrolet Luv truck and the Datsun pickup that were still floating around at bargain prices.
Trucks had appeal beyond their affordability. With their wide-open beds, it was easy to install hydraulics or air pumps to create trick suspensions, and likewise, fender cutting and tubbing made it relatively simple for talented fabricators to drop these vehicles to the pavement. Tilt beds weren't uncommon (thanks to basic body-on-frame platforms), and slab sides were also ideal for applying wild paint jobs and eye-catching decals, two areas where '90s flavor really made a mark among customizers.
Maverick Mini Truck Redux
How does the Ford Maverick fit into all of this? Although its unibody design makes it unlikely any beds will be spinning, its sub-$20k purchase price (for base models) and its car-like platform have already proven attractive to more than a few creative minds—especially considering that its optional EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder drivetrain is common enough on the market in other models, giving the pickup a bit of a boost when it comes to aftermarket parts availability.
Photo: Kenneth McCay
Seeking to break free from the dominance of off-road trucks, these shops and individuals have turned towards mini-truck heritage, building a number of slammed Maverick models that nod towards their forbearers with bright, splashy graphics as well as custom air rides. The best way to stand out from the crowd is to do something different, and judging by the attention that some of these Maverick builds have received over the past 12 months, it's mission accomplished.
Kenneth McCay's bagged Maverick XL features a Chassis Tech suspension setup, 20-inch rims and tires, and a 35-inch ragtop sunroof.
The bed has been stuffed with Alpine Audio gear, and the truck's EcoBoost engine soundtrack has been improved by way of less restrictive exhaust. It's all tied together with rainbow tribal graphics that brighten up the factory silver paintwork.
In late 2021, a more modest but equally slick Maverick made waves at SEMA. The Tucci Concept Maverick's flared fenders, coil-over drop, and blocky white wheels combine with flared fenders and spoilers front and rear to smooth out the pickup's lines.
The truck (which Tucci Hot Rods also gifted with a Borla center exit exhaust) was such a star in Las Vegas that Ford Performance awarded it best at its booth.
More Mini-Mavericks On The Horizon?
What does the future hold for Ford Maverick mini-truckin'? It's clear that unlike larger mid-size options from Ford (the Ranger), Nissan (the Frontier), and Toyota (the Tacoma), the Maverick's proportions have already attracted significant organic interest from the hot rod crowd. With deliveries set to increase throughout the year as manufacturing ramps up, it's a safe bet that SEMA 2022 will see a larger contingent of street-oriented Maverick builds seeking to push the limits of what's possible with Ford's latest pickup.
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