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1975-1979 Chrysler Cordoba

1975 Cordoba Style

The 1975 Cordoba style appeared to the thirty-somethings of the time, for whom the Cordoba was conceived. What they wanted was the comfort and ambiance of a traditional big car, plus at least the perception of greater operating economy in a fashionably smaller, lighter package.

Whatever we may think now of 1970s tastes, the Cordoba was right on target for its intended audience. Indeed, early consumer research showed that people viewed it as "substantial looking," "strong and protective," and, perhaps most tellingly, "a car for a successful person."

Alas, the Cordoba was also contemporary in skimping on back-seat space. However, it boasted the industry's longest doors -- a massive 58.5 inches -- which at least helped rear entry/exit, though it did nothing for any passenger in tight parking places.

But in the 1970s, such practical matters took a back seat to image, and the Cordoba had plenty of "visual dimension." For starters, there were three available wheel treatments: standard stainless-steel covers with "doubloon" centers, optional wire-wheel covers, and handsome urethane road wheels.

Buyers could also opt for a "halo" vinyl roof covering the entire top or a trendy, retrograde "Landau" style on just the rear third. Paint colors numbered 20, of which 13 were metallics. Interior options began with front buckets, genuine "Corinthian leather" in a choice of six colors, brocade upholstery in five hues, or the de rigueur velour in four.

Also optional was what Chrysler claimed as the industry's first Jacquard print upholstery. Dubbed "Castillian," this giant stride in fabric technology came only in a red/silver pattern.

Of course, expected extras like power windows and door locks were also on the list, but some features were newly promoted to suit the sober new post-energy-crisis market mentality. For instance, automatic speed control, once a mere luxury, was now a "help to better fuel economy."

In the same vein was "Fuel Pacer," an optional warning light in the left fender-tip turn-signal indicator that glowed reprovingly if you tread too heavily on the accelerator.

Yet despite that big 400 V-8 option, the Cordoba made no gesture toward "performance." Nor was it a "handler" even by 1975 Detroit standards, though it was competent despite the ultra-soft suspension settings specified to give the all-important "big-car ride."

Credit torsionbar front suspension, now dubbed "Torsion Quiet Ride" and a Highland Park staple since 1957, but also standard radial tires, which helped mileage as well as readability.

The Cordoba will be forever remembered as the car that made "fine Corinthian leather" a national catch-phrase, thanks to the efforts of Mexican-born television/film star Ricardo Montalban, who promoted the car in TV commercials starting in early 1975.

Ever black-tie attired, Montalban appeared in suitably upscale settings (like those in Cordoba print ads) to extol the hide upholstery and other features with an elegant accent that could make even "Chrysler" sound exotic. It was a highly effective campaign, and Montalban would remain in Chrysler's employ well into the 1980s.

Follow the Cordoba story through 1976 and 1977 on the next page.

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