With the Bronco and Ranger returning, what other models should Ford revive?
We were absolutely elated when Ford confirmed that both the Bronco and Ranger nameplates would be returning to the US market. The Bronco has been discontinued since 1996, and the Ranger hasn't been sold in the US since 2011. This made us think, what other discontinued Ford models deserve to make a comeback? These are our five favorite picks for names that Ford should bring back in some capacity based on how they would fit in the lineup, how likely a return would be, and what we could envision them becoming today.
People always remember the Chevy El Camino as "that weird pickup car thing," but Ford actually revealed the similarly odd Ranchero two years earlier in 1957. The Ranchero was on sale until 1979 through seven generations, but we think that it deserves an eighth generation. We imagine the car looking a lot like the Australian Ford Falcon Ute, although we really missed an opportunity to get a re-badged version because Falcon production in Australia has already ended. We would love for Ford to make a similar car in the United States, but neither Ford nor GM ever had much interest in selling a ute in the US market. Still, we can dream about having a small and sporty pickup below the new Ranger.
Not many people remember the Ford RS200. The car was originally designed for Group B Rallying, and the rules stipulated that Ford needed to build 200 road-legal versions. The car packed a mid-engine 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with around 250 hp and all-wheel drive. In race-spec, this engine was able to produce well over 800 hp. We would love to see a small mid-engine car bridge the gap between the Shelby GT350 and Ford GT. The car could receive a tuned version of the Focus RS engine with some hybridization. A new car, which we would call the RS400, could be an awesome competitor to models like the Audi R8 and Acura NSX.
The Ford Crown Victoria may seem like an odd car for us to be excited about, seeing as how most people only remember it as either a taxi cab or police vehicle. However, that is exactly why we think that the Crown Vic could be revived today. Self-driving technology could change the way we use cars, and the Crown Vic seems like the perfect badge for an autonomous Ford model. Most people have ridden in the back of a Crown Vic (hopefully not while in cuffs), so wouldn't it be cool if the car didn't need a driver? The taxi industry could become a lot more efficient if the new Crown Victoria could drive itself. Ford is currently working on a self-driving Fusion, but we think that the Crown Vic is a better fit.
The Ford Puma was never sold in the United States, and we lament that fact. The Puma was built by Ford of Europe from 1997 to 2001. The little two-door coupe was based on the Mk 4 Fiesta and was therefore front-wheel drive. We think that Ford could easily bring back this nameplate as a competitor to the Toyota 86, Mazda MX-5 and Fiat 124. The Puma could sit below the Mustang and be based on the current Fiesta ST, which is one of the most fun FWD cars ever produced. That would give the Puma 197 hp with a six-speed manual transmission. That would make it a fantastic entry-level sports car for someone who does not want, or care about, RWD.
The Thunderbird was originally designed as a sporty two-seat convertible that Ford called a "personal luxury vehicle." Unlike the Corvette, the Thunderbird was never marketed as a sports car, and it went through many changes over its 11 generations, which stretched from 1955 to 1997. People have bad memories of the Thunderbird mainly because the last few generations were pretty woeful, and the retro 11th generation from 2002 to 2005 was a big mess. Still, we have always wanted Ford to revive what first made the Thunderbird great: luxury. Today, the car would probably be badged as a Lincoln model, but we would love to see Ford go toe-to-toe with the Mercedes S-Class convertible and upcoming BMW 8 Series.