Which historic car nameplates should, or should not, return?

No vehicle shows the potential of a retired classic nameplate like the new Ford Bronco. Going back next month after a 24-year hiatus, the Bronco 2021 could be 2020’s most anticipated new vehicle reveal, rivaling just another Ford product, the new F-150. Ironically, this same automaker has also shown how to reject a callback by slapping the Mustang name on its Mach-E electric crossover, which even the unenthusiastic public isn’t sure is a good idea.

So considering the possible pitfalls of cashing in on the old glory, what are some classic names that should (or shouldn’t) come back?

I’ll start by volunteering another name from Ford’s portfolio, Thunderbird, which I think should have been used in the crossover we know as the Mustang Mach-E. It would be a fitting allusion to electricity in Ford’s first mass-market electric car and help denote the model as a premium product, one at the top end of Ford’s range. Instead of proverbially hitting a still-living horse trying to stretch the Mustang’s face over a crossover, Ford could have designed it from scratch and set a new design direction for its electrified models, if not its entire lineup.

Nor would it have been to taint a beloved nameplate, as Ford already embarrassed the Thunderbird as early as 1967 with a horrible redesign that never really improved from there. [Ed Note: Has James never seen an early ’90s Thunderbird SC?]

The Mach-E could have been the phoenix moment of the Thunderbird, a rise in the ashes. But instead, we have a crossover called a Mustang, one that evokes a dog that licks its nose more than a pony car. And that, Ford, we won’t let you live badly, even if the Mach-E does the Tesla Model AND what the Bronco could do to the Jeep Wrangler.

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