Chevrolet should be worried.
At the 1954 Detroit Auto Show, Ford lifted the lid on a two-seater convertible that, to this day, is much loved by enthusiasts and collectors alike. Introduced as the Thunderbird, the gorgeous styling and V8 powertrains brought many into Dearborn's fold and, interestingly, the Blue Oval's offering outsold the Corvette of the day by thousands.
Cut to 2022 and things couldn't be more different. The new Corvette Stingray is in high demand (even the drop-top is posting remarkable sales figures) and it's only set to skyrocket with the arrival of the high-performance Z06. Over at Ford, the Thunderbird is all but forgotten. Last seen in 2005 when the brand tried (halfheartedly) to revive the iconic nameplate, many thought we'd seen the last of it.
However, that may change soon. According to new reports,a return is in the cards, with Ford considering a new Thunderbird as a Corvette rival of sorts. While it wouldn't boast a mid-engined layout, it would indirectly rival the Corvette as a halo grand tourer.
Last year, we unearthed something to suggest this. Ford filed the name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in January 2021, piquing our interest and sending our imagination into overdrive. At the time, we suggested the nomenclature may return as an all-electric sports car. That's still a strong possibility, especially as GM has said the Corvette will be offered as a fully-electric variant too.
We wouldn't be surprised if the Thunderbird name does make a comeback. After all, Ford has a rich history of bringing back iconic badges, such as the Bronco and Maverick nameplates. Currently, Ford has not got a vehicle to rival the Corvette (the Mustang is as good as it gets) but the introduction of another passenger car will go against the company's current direction - SUVs, crossovers, and trucks are the way forward (for the Blue Oval, at least).
Certainly, if the Thunderbird does return in the future, it's highly unlikely that it will sport a roaring V6 or V8 engine. An electric Thunderbird could do well, especially if it's positioned as a luxurious personal luxury coupe. Then again, Ford could do what it did with the Mustang and create a spin-off electric car, in the style of the Mustang Mach-E.
A potential Thunderbird Mach-E could be positioned above the aforementioned electric crossover and take on the likes of the Tesla Model X and Cadillac Lyriq. Hopefully, it will retain the retro styling cues that made past models so aesthetically appealing.
If Ford is serious about this, we'll likely see the arrival of an exciting concept car soon. The company's design guru said he wants to see the return of radical concept cars, especially as we head into the electrified era. We sincerely hope the Thunderbird returns and, if so, makes a splash as a sleekly-styled riposte to the all-dominating Corvette.