Recently, a unique photo has been making its way through the Ford community. It’s an odd photo that may catch someone off guard if they are unaware of the situation. Let’s provide some context to this peculiar image of what looks to be a secret underground collection of old Mavericks.
A New Challenge
In the early 1970s, Ford Motor Company found itself facing an unexpected challenge. The Maverick, a compact car designed to be affordable, efficient, and stylish, wasn’t flying off the dealer lots as anticipated. The result was a surplus of unsold Mavericks requiring a storage solution, and Ford came up with a unique one – the Subtropolis caves in Kansas City, Missouri.
Subtropolis, a man-made underground complex of limestone mines covering over 55 million square feet, became the unexpected savior for Ford’s surplus Mavericks. The caves were already home to various businesses that utilized the underground space for storage and other purposes. Ford decided to lease approximately 25 acres of this cavernous complex, turning it into a rather unconventional storage facility.
What made Subtropolis an ideal choice was its natural climate control properties. The caves maintained a steady temperature between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, providing an environment suitable for storing vehicles. The Mavericks were nestled in the depths of the caves, shielded from the elements, and remained there until they could find eager buyers.
The Subtropolis complex itself was a fascinating marvel. A former limestone mine, it had transformed into a bustling commercial hub managed by Hunt Midwest. The sheer size of Subtropolis, boasting 55 million square feet (approximately 1.75 square miles), earned it the title of ‘The largest underground business complex in the world.’ This underground labyrinth wasn’t just a haven for these Ford Mavericks; it hosted a variety of clients, including the United States Postal Service (USPS), which reportedly stored millions of stamps within its depths.
In the depths of Subtropolis, Ford still thrives in an area called ‘Automotive Alley,’ a result of the synergy between Hunt Midwest Business Center (HMBC) and SubTropolis. This $50 million plus venture has not only flourished, but has also become a magnet for Ford Transit and F-150 upfitters in Kansas City. Situated just minutes away from the Ford Claycomo plant, where the F-150 and Transit are produced, Automotive Alley emerges as the premier destination for all Ford Transit and F-150 upfitters, adding a contemporary chapter to the underground cavernous saga.
A Dynamic Underground Ecosystem
As time passed, Subtropolis continued to thrive as a dynamic underground ecosystem. While the Mavericks eventually found new homes and the echoes of their presence faded away, the legacy of Ford’s unconventional storage solution lived on. Car enthusiasts and historians alike marveled at the idea of thousands of unsold cars quietly residing in the cavernous depths for several years, creating a unique chapter in the history of the Ford Maverick.