When the Ford Thunderbird launched for the 1955 model year, it did so as a sporty, two-seat convertible that served as a direct Chevrolet Corvette rival, albeit one that was marketed as a more upscale alternative. That soon changed, however, as the Thunderbird gained another row of seating in 1958 and proceeded to grow in size in subsequent years. The long-running model was ultimately discontinued after ten generations, only to return as a retro two-seat convertible in 2002 before it bowed again following the 2005 model year. Now, sources familiar with the matter have told Ford Authority that the Ford Thunderbird is once again being considered for a comeback.
This time around, Ford is considering reviving the Thunderbird as a somewhat indirect Corvette rival. The new T-Bird would reportedly be more of a grand touring coupe, though it wouldn’t boast a mid-engine layout like the current-gen C8 Corvette, and as such, wouldn’t exactly be a direct competitor to its original rival.
As Ford Authority reported in January of 2021, Ford filed to trademark “Thunderbird” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office last year, signaling a potential return for the beloved model. Such a comeback would be the latest in a long line of them, as The Blue Oval just resurrected the Ford Bronco, as well as the Ford Maverick – albeit as a compact pickup, not a passenger car like the original.
Additionally, in June 2021, Ford Authority spies spotted Ford benchmarking a C8 Corvette Stingray, which raised a lot of eyebrows. Presumably, Ford was benchmarking the C8 against the the Ford Mustang GT500 – its closest Blue Oval rival – but it’s also possible that this was being done with an eye toward building a more suitable competitor, such as a new Thunderbird.
Sales Numbers - Premium Sports Cars - 2021 - USA
|MODEL||YTD 21 / YTD 20||YTD 21||YTD 20||YTD 21 SHARE||YTD 20 SHARE|
|MERCEDES-BENZ AMG GT||-10.86%||3,110||3,489||6%||8%|
Currently, the C8 Corvette remains in high demand since its launch in 2019 for the 2020 model year, and it dominates the premium sports car segment after finishing with a 63 percent market share last year. There’s certainly room for competition in this segment – particularly for vehicles that represent a great value, like the Corvette, which is precisely what a new Thunderbird could be.
SOURCE: FORD AUTHORITY