The days of the personal luxury car might be over, but with Ford's flagship, the GT supercar still in production until sometime in 2022, there's one car that Ford might actually bring back. It could bear the Thunderbird name, although it would enjoy a different lifestyle than either of the other cars carrying the name. Both the first-generation T-Bird and the eleventh-generation with the retro style were a mix of sporty and classy, with quite a few powerful V8 engines to choose from; but the next T-Bird, if it decides to come back, will take a different route.
If the Ford Thunderbird comes back, it will likely become a high-performance grand tourer. To state my predictions, it will likely come standard as a two-seat convertible (as did the first-generation model), but it could do so along with a no-cost two-seat coupe variant. The Thunderbird could underpin a Lincoln model with more practical variants, such as a 2+2 coupe and its convertible equivalent, and even a four-door coupe and/or sedan. No kidding, there was in fact a four-door Thunderbird, which was produced only in the model's fifth generation with Lincoln Continental-style suicide doors.
The Ford brand may have edged out all of the cars except for the Mustang pony/muscle car and the GT supercar. But that won't stop the brand from reviving the Thunderbird, which could slot in-between with the muscle car and the supercar that it might replace. It will likely use the same front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (FR) layout as all Thunderbirds have. Or, Ford could move the engine a little back, making for an FMR layout, or a front-mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. Many grand tourers carry the latter layout to ensure better balance towards the rear wheels.
The Ford Thunderbird was not only a sports car (first and eleventh generations), but also a midsize and later full-size car (second through tenth generations). All generations had V8 engines either as standard or optional, although quite a few had V6 engines. This is why when the Thunderbird name makes a return, it could spawn as many variants as possible, especially when rebadged as Lincolns. As Ford already is going towards the fully electric route, who knows when there will be an electric CUV/SUV carrying the Thunderbird name? An electric SUV that could even replace the full-size, body-on-frame Expedition?!
Anyways, back to the sports car revival. The Ford Thunderbird will likely carry twin-turbocharged V6 and V8 engines. A mid-level Thunderbird will likely take on cars like the recently-launched McLaren GT and Ferrari Roma, as well as the Aston Martin DB11, while an even more extreme T-Bird will battle with ultimate GTs such as the Ferrari 812 and Aston Martin DBS. For the North American market, the engine options could include a 700-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 and a 1,000-horsepower, 5.2-liter V8. For the European market, the options could expand to a 3.0 V6 with 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, as well as a detuned 3.5 V6 with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft.
The 700-hp V6 T-Bird could accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.5sec and hit a maximum speed of 195mph, while the 1000-hp V8 T-Bird could sprint to 60 in just 3.3sec and top 200mph. Transmission options should include a 10-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual. The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 muscle car and the Ford GT supercar both come with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, but big power should make up for the T-Bird's more traditional gearboxes, as it will be designed more for comfort rather than for speed.
The Ford Thunderbird will likely cost $80,000 for the 700hp V6 variant and $130,000 for the 1000hp V8 variant, making it the most powerful car in its segment. It should continue where the Dodge Viper and Cadillac XLR-V left off, by being America's top-dog, front-engine, two-seater brute, combining the agility of a Viper and the comfort of an XLR-V! The Chevrolet Corvette is now a mid-engine supercar, although it is not as expensive as the Ford GT. The Thunderbird will be America's next monster, soon to be.
The 2023 Ford Thunderbird's Likely Market Competitors
The McLaren GT is powered by a 612-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Satisfies comfort in a supercar body and even seats four!
The Ferrari Roma is powered by a 612-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V8. A Portofino dressed in coupe variant with performance on par with a 458 Speciale.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
The Ferrari 812 Superfast and GTS are powered by a 789-horsepower, 6.5-liter V12. Actually, it is a direct competitor to the Lamborghini Aventador, but that car has a mid-engine, all-wheel-drive configuration. It is among the quickest of front-engine cars, hitting 62 mph in just 2.9 seconds.
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera and Aston Martin DB11 V12
You get a twin-turbo V8 or as much as three of the twin-turbo V12 options in the DB Series. The entry-level DB11 gets a 503-hp 4.0L, while the mid-level version gets a 600-hp 5.2L, with the AMR and the DBS Superleggera/Volante producing 630 and 715 hp, respectively. The Shelby GT500 Mustang can keep up with the DBS Superleggera, but it isn't as sexy or luxurious.
These are the predicted market rivals to the upcoming Thunderbird - if it comes out.