The Corvette is unrivaled. Sure, there are faster cars, and there are cheaper cars, but there are no cars that can stand toe to toe with America’s sports car for the same price.
Apparently, that doesn’t sit well with Ford. They were recently seen testing a variety of cars on their personal track, and the rumors have been running wild. Namely, thanks to a late-night trademark filing, we could be seeing the return of an old friend.
The Corvette Has No Competition
Let’s start by backing up the outrageous claim we opened with. The C8 has some really impressive numbers. It’s got nearly 500 horses under the… Trunk lid. That’s enough to propel the car to sixty in under three seconds.
That’s fast. However, it’s not exactly uniquely fast. Lots of cars nowadays are that motivated. What sets the Corvette apart is its incredibly low price tag of 60 grand.
But, surely there is something close. Like the M3, or the Z, or…
Everyone’s favorite pig snout is fast. There is no doubt about that. It’s got near enough the same power figures, and with an MSRP of $70,000, it’s pretty close in value too.
However, the pig analogies don’t end at the nose with the new M since it weighs a hefty 3990 pounds. That’s half a ton heavier than the C8, meaning that in the real world, the Corvette has no issue walking away from the BMW.
Ok, but there is a new kid on the block. Well, an old kid that reinvented themselves.
The Nissan Z
We don’t make any secret that we are excited about the new Z. It’s got 400 horsepower. It looks awesome. And it’s sold with a manual, so it’s already got a leg up over the Chevy.
Plus, rumor says it’ll be $40,000. That does make it an amazing performance bargain, and honestly, it’d be hard to say that the Corvette is a better value.
However, people shopping for something as fast as a Corvette aren’t going to be lured to the much slower Nissan just because it’s a good deal, and likewise people who are looking for the cheapest performance car they can get aren’t going to be looking at the C8. Both are amazing cars, but they are not competitors.
So what does Chevrolet think is a competitor for the Corvette? It’s the Porsche 911, a car that has been compared to the Corvette by auto journalists since the 80s. That isn’t without merit; Chevy has a collection of Porsches for their own testing.
Are the two really competitors, though? On a track, absolutely. Off the track, though, the 911 is $40,000 more. And that’s pretty much the rest of the story because everything else that’s in the C8 territory is a lot more expensive.
If we look at a list of Nurburgring times, we can see a handful of cars that are faster than the C8.
The Porsche 918. The Ferrari 488. The Mclaren 720S.
The cheapest of those beautiful offerings is the 488 at $330,000. You could buy each of your friends a Corvette for the same price and have the best track day parties ever.
Outside of the Corvette, there is an ancient rivalry between Chevrolet and their American counterpart. Maybe they have something to say.
An Age-Old Rivalry
The company, of course, is Ford. Even though the blue oval is mostly concerned with destroying historic monickers and making really expensive trucks, they have continued to improve the Mustang GT.
Their latest offering is called the GT500, and it is proper fast.
It’s pretty easy to call the GT500 the ultimate Mustang. It’s the fastest Mustang ever built, and it handles beautifully. It can even outrun the new C8 on a long track, and with 700+ horsepower, it’s a truly incredible feat of engineering.
It also costs ten thousand dollars more. That’s not a small amount of money, but it does mean that people will be cross-shopping the Corvette with this Mustang.
So is it a competitor?
Right now, yes. It is. However, the Mustang is reaching the end of its development. The S550 platform has been around forever, and they are reaching the peak of what the platform is capable of. Frankly, it would be more surprising if it wasn’t incredibly fast.
The C8 is at the very beginning of its development. They have only just announced the Z06, and the ZR1 is nothing but a rumor. For reference, the C7 ZR1 is faster than the GT500, and the Corvette race car that the Z06 is based on is faster than the C7. There is zero reasons to think that Chevy isn’t going to pull far away from Ford in the next 3 years.
Unless you want to talk about the real fastest Ford.
Which is a car that costs half a million dollars, and really isn’t that much faster. We are back to the problem of comparing an approachable everyman car to an unobtainable supercar.
Ford used to bring it, though. In fact, in the 50s, Ford was winning the American Sports Car battle.
The Original Corvette Rival
The year was 1953, and Chevy had just released a car that would become synonymous with their brand. The Corvette.
And it sucked. It had this terrible little inline-six called the “Blue Flame,” and they couldn’t move them off the lot. For some reason, Ford saw that attempt by their rival at building a sports car as threatening and got to work on a little car called the Thunderbird.
The Thunderbird’s History
When it was launched, the Thunderbird had two seats, a nice V8 under the hood, and some very swanky touches of luxury. It was a great car. Is a great car, actually, the first-gen T-birds are still everywhere at car shows and cruise nights.
People loved it, too. There were 20 Thunderbirds sold for every one Corvette. Not only did Ford make a Corvette rival, but they also made a Corvette KILLER.
Then, as is what happens with many things in life, corporate got involved and ruined everything.
The Thunderbird Gets Giant and Slow
Ford execs in the mid-50s could only see one thing: money. Specifically, they saw that their bigger cars were selling better than their smaller cars, so they wanted the Thunderbird to be a big car.
So that’s what happened. The cool American sports car became a big, bloated boat of a vehicle. By the 60s, it was a four-seater that could barely get out of its own way. By 1975 the Corvette killing sportscar from Ford was actually bigger and slower than the new Ford Explorer.
In the 80s it got weird, and in the 90s it was clear that Ford had no idea what to do with the Thunderbird. They did supercharge it and mate it to a six-speed for a bit, but ultimately the T-bird ended production in the late 90s.
Only to come back during the retro revival of the 2000s! In 2002 the new “Baby Bird” was born. Loosely based on the SN95 Mustang, the new Thunderbird was…
Pretty much a total snore. It looked ok if you are into that, but mostly it was just an alternative PT Cruiser. The performance on the road was only matched by its sales performance, so in 2005 it was axed. This time, presumably, for good.
Could The Thunderbird Be Returning?
Or was it?
Because early 2022 Ford decided to re-file for the Thunderbird trademark. This wouldn’t be the first time they brought back an old monicker in a new form. The Maverick is a fantastic vehicle, and everyone has very strong opinions about the Mach E.
So what is Ford thinking with the Thunderbird? Maybe another electric? It already has “thunder” in the name, after all. That’s an easy sell.
We would be content to leave the speculation at that, except for one thing. While Ford was filing the paperwork for their trademark, they were also playing around with the new Corvette.
Ford Gets Caught Testing the C8
There’s this thing that auto companies do called benchmarking. It’s where they nab a car that everyone knows is good, and then have their engineers put it through its paces.
Usually, it’s because they are trying to build something to compete against it. Chevrolet famously had a couple of 911 GT3s when they were testing the C8, and we all saw where that went.
Ford was recently caught with a couple of C8s at their testing facilities. It’s of course only speculation on our part, but there is a real chance that Ford is developing a Corvette competitor.
When you pair that with the fact that they just re-upped the legal work for their original Corvette competitor, well… We may very well see a new American sports car.
Electrics Are All the Rage
The big question will be whether or not it’s an EV.
We think the answer is “probably.”
The Corvette is built with batteries in mind, so we know an electric Vette is coming. The Taycan is outselling the 911. People are still willing to die for Tesla.
It would be frankly stupid for Ford NOT to make a fast EV.
Especially since they have teased a Mustang race car that isn’t an EV, so chances are good that they will need something to fill the performance electric gap.
That something might as well be one of the most iconic cars of all time.
For more, or if you’d rather hear Brad talk about this instead of reading it, head to Ideal Cars on YouTube.
Or learn more about the awesome Corvette Z06 that’s on the horizon by heading here.