The Ford Mustang, as most anyone will tell you, isn’t really a sportscar; it’s a pony car. That’s an essentially American class of sporty compact car largely defined by the Mustang and other cheap, sporty two-door coupes of its ilk – the Plymouth Barracuda, Chevrolet Camaro, and AMC Javelin, for instance.
The Chevrolet Corvette, meanwhile, is decidedly a sportscar, and while Ford and General Motors tend to compete head-to-head in just about every other class in America – small cars, crossovers, SUVs, full-size (and now mid-size) trucks, etc. – Ford doesn’t have a direct answer to the Chevrolet Corvette. In fact, just about the only “true” sportscar that the Blue Oval produces today is the Ford GT, which costs an eye-watering $450k+, requires prospective buyers to undergo a strict screening process, and isn’t actually built by Ford at all. It’s built by Canadian outfit Multimatic.
So why, then, doesn’t Ford produce a two-seater sportscar to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette? In fact, for many decades, the automaker sort of did: the Ford Thunderbird. It and the Corvette started from a similar point when both cars launched in the 1950s, but over time, the Corvette doubled down on its sporting aspirations while the Thunderbird set about morphing into even more of a “personal luxury car.” Ford’s path paid off in the showroom, although today, it could be argued that the “Thunderbird” name enjoys just a fraction of the cachet had by “Corvette”.
The reasons Ford doesn’t introduce a Chevrolet Corvette competitor today probably have to do with the fact that it would likely be a low- or no-profit vehicle; because its existing performance cars already fill the halo vehicle role adequately; and because the Corvette enjoys the sort of celebrity that would be very hard to match.
As for what happened with Ford’s original Corvette competitor, the Thunderbird, check out the video above from Donut Media for a brief history lesson.