The Legendary Ford Thunderbird Could Be Coming Back To Take On The Corvette As An EV

American legacy automaker Ford dabbled with batteries and electric-powered vehicles long before the Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning came to market. The great Henry Ford worked with inventor Thomas Edison to conceptualize one of the first electric vehicle concepts in 1914 (per InsideEVs). The two men intended to mass-produce an electric vehicle that would cost below $500, or just a bit more than the iconic Model T. Ford referred to his EV concept as "the family carriage of the future."

However, something happened along the way. Charles Franklin Kettering filed a patent for an electric self-starter for cars in 1915, and the auto world has never been the same since. Internal-combustion vehicles became easier to use (without the need to hand-crank the engine to life), and Ford had to put his EV project on an indefinite hiatus to focus on growing the fossil-fueled cars we all love and use today.

Ford Thunderbird: The next Blue Oval EV?

Ford briefly resurrected its passion for electric vehicles in the late '60s and '90s. But in January 2021, Ford filed a trademark on the "Thunderbird" moniker with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Could this possibly hint at an incoming EV wearing the "Thunderbird" name? Now that other automakers are looking to the past for their latest EV offerings (think GMC Hummer EV, Mustang Mach-E, Ford Lightning), it's certainly possible.

The classic 1954-1997 Ford Thunderbird was not an electric vehicle, and neither was the short-lived modern Thunderbird that graced the showrooms from 2002 to 2005 (versus the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning EV succeeding its gas-powered predecessor). Conceptualized initially by George Walker and Louis D. Crusoe to go head-on with the first-gen Chevy Corvette, the Thunderbird was to become the sportiest vehicle in Ford's portfolio (per Ford). It debuted in 1954 at the first post-war auto show in Detroit, and Ford quickly sold 14,000 Thunderbirds within the first year of production in 1955, outselling the Chevy Corvette (per History).

According to CarGlancer, there were reports of a Torch Red Chevy Corvette C8 Stingray entering and leaving the Ford Motor Company grounds on Oakwood Boulevard. It's not unusual for automakers to benchmark their creations with competitors, but Ford has no vehicle that directly rivals the Chevy Corvette. Does the patent filing of the Thunderbird name coincide with Ford's benchmarking of the C8 Corvette? The answer is a resounding yes.

In April 2022, General Motors confirmed that an electrified Corvette could debut as early as 2023, and a fully-electric variant could follow soon (per Forbes). Moreover, GM is investing $35 billion to bring electrification to its portfolio by 2035. If everything comes to fruition, the hybrid or battery-electric Corvette will again face the Ford Thunderbird in a sales battle — just like the good old days.