The Ford Motor Company is the oldest automaker in the world and has achieved astounding success. When the company was on a tremendous growth spur for decades, part of the reason for that success was the unique automotive designs. Cars like the Model T and the Mustang defined generations of drivers. Ford understood what it took to be a dominant force in the automotive industry. Other companies like AMC have come and gone but the ‘blue oval’ is still here.
Yet there have also been quite a few failures at the Blue Oval. These were cars that didn’t quite cut the mustard, but Ford tried to push them onto consumers anyway. The Ford Pinto comes to mind. The second-generation Ford Explorer was also marred in controversy. That controversy alone cost the company over a billion dollars in settlements and tarnished the reputation of the Explorer brand. Some of these failures were extremely costly and damaging, so we looked back at the less-than-successful cars and trucks that could have potentially put the blue oval out of business for good.
Ford Thunderbird (1955-1957)
Where do we begin with the Thunderbird? It wasn’t necessarily a bad car, but it was a huge gamble for Ford. The company spent millions of dollars developing a car to compete against the Corvette. The problem with the first generation of the Thunderbird is that it wasn’t a direct competitor to the Corvette. The Corvette was built for speed while the Thunderbird was built for comfort and luxury (via The Motor Digest).
Still, the Thunderbird would be one of the most popular cars at Ford. The styling resonated with a new generation of buyers who wanted something different. The Thunderbird did gain the following in the automotive world, but the car was a major gamble for Ford. Whenever an automaker embarks on a completely new product, there are a lot of risks involved to follow.