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Ford Thunderbird could be revived as coupe grand tourer - report

The Thunderbird could rise from the ashes like another mythical bird, serving as a new halo model for the Ford brand.

William Stopford
William Stopford
Journalist
Published

The Ford Thunderbird could fly again.

Sources familiar with the matter told Ford Authority the famous nameplate is being considered for a comeback.

This time around, it would reportedly be an indirect rival to the Chevrolet Corvette, albeit without a mid-engine layout.

With production of the GT ending, the Thunderbird would in theory serve as a new halo model for the brand.

Ford already filed a trademark for the Thunderbird name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office last year, and the company has said it’s open to reviving more famous nameplates from its past.

It’s already done so over the past couple of years, dusting off the Puma, Bronco and Maverick nameplates.

It’s unclear what would power a revived Thunderbird.

While the Corvette still offers a good old-fashioned naturally-aspirated V8, Chevrolet is getting ready to launch electrified and full electric variants of its sports car.

Ford Authority reports the Blue Oval brand has been spied benchmarking a C8 Corvette Stingray, initially speculating it was benchmarking it against the Shelby GT500.

Interestingly, the report doesn’t point to the name being dusted off for yet another SUV, a fate that has befallen the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, upcoming Opel Manta, and Ford’s own Puma.

The revival of a famous coupe/convertible also stands in contrast with Ford’s decision in North America to cull its passenger car line-up, excluding the Mustang.

Over the past five years, Ford has axed the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus in North America, though the Fusion is rumoured to be returning as a crossover and the Taurus name lives on as a rebadged Chinese Mondeo for the Middle East.

The first Thunderbird was conceived as a response to the first Corvette, arriving two years later and also featuring a convertible body with two seats. It ended up outselling the Chevy.

But while the Corvette has followed the same basic concept for decades – a two-door sports coupe or convertible – the Thunderbird quickly diverged from its Chevy rival.

It gained a second row of seats and the option of a coupe body style with its 1958 redesign, and became more of a personal luxury car.

The convertible died with the fifth generation model in 1967, which offered an unpopular four-door hardtop sedan body style with suicide doors.

From 1972 onwards, the Thunderbird was offered exclusively as a two-door coupe.

The 1977 redesign saw its base price slashed and its sales soar, while it shrunk considerably with the unpopular 1980 model and was then one of the first Ford models to feature the brand’s new aerodynamic design language in 1983.

The 1989 ‘MN-12’ redesign was benchmarked against the BMW 6 Series and achieved critical acclaim, but a market shifting from coupes to SUVs saw it discontinued in 1997 along with its Mercury Cougar counterpart.

Ford resurrected the Thunderbird as a convertible in 2002, tapping into the demand for retro styling with an exterior design strongly reminiscent of the initial 1955 model. But though it shared its platform with the capable Jaguar S-Type and Lincoln LS, initial demand faded and it was retired in 2005.

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William Stopford
William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel (remember that?), briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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