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Thread: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

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    1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time



    1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    By Pete Dunton

    Link to article with pictures:

    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...6&Itemid=10889


    Ever been in a situation that you had no control over, a life changing situation that required quick and precise action? That’s exactly the predicament the US automakers were caught in after the 1973 Oil Crisis. They were forced to deal with the hard cold fact that their bread and butter – big cars with big cubic inch motors, were losing their appeal to many Americans. There was only one solution to this dilemma, and that was a rapid shift to producing smaller more efficient cars. For the budget auto marques like Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, etc. this was no small task but an obtainable one. However the luxury marques like Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler were really left in a lurch. After all these luxury brands made a name for themselves by offering the biggest luxury land barges with every luxury option imaginable. In the past this strategy worked, and sales year after year remained robust. The hard part was the task of pleasing the traditional luxury buyer with smaller more fuel-efficient luxury cars.

    Chrysler for 1975 had its solution to this problem in the form of an entirely new car called the Cordoba. It was a stylish/sporty luxury 2-door with a whole host of features and options. Though by today’s standards the Cordoba is not a small car, however it was much smaller than other cars in Chrysler’s 1975 fleet. In fact in its 1975 product literature, Chrysler referred to the Cordoba as the “new small Chrysler”.

    The Cordoba was also filling a new market niche for Chrysler, which had emerged in popularity as the muscle cars were being retired by most auto brands. This niche was the “personal luxury car”. It included such cars as the Ford Thunderbird, Ford Elite, Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Lincoln Mark IV, etc.

    For Chrysler it was imperative that the Cordoba be a success, since Chrysler’s sales were spiraling downward rapidly as the Cordoba was making its debut. The Cordoba was a “make it or break it car” for Chrysler due to the fact Chrysler was nearing dire straights.

    What the Cordoba offered was luxury to a buyer who normally could not afford a luxury car. It was like flying first class for the price of a retail coach ticket. Most Americans were feeling the pinch by the mid 1970s of the downturn in the economy. By this time stagflation a combination of inflation, higher unemployment, and stagnant growth in the economy began to rear its ugly head. So Chrysler’s release of a reasonably priced personal luxury car could not have been at a better time.

    Putting all these factors together it was no surprise the Cordoba was a hot seller and was a mega success in a decade where the Chrysler Corporation found itself on the losing side far too often. Chrysler sold close to 150,000 Cordobas in its first year, and for its second model year sales went even higher.

    Also helping the Cordoba’s sales was Chrysler’s very cleaver ad campaign. Anyone who was alive during this time will remember the Chrysler Cordoba commercials which portrayed luxury and sophistication for very reasonable price. Famous actor Recardo Montebalban was the pitchman. His Spanish accent articulating the many luxuries and comforts of the new Cordoba, while the TV audience sat in awe of this unforgettable automobile. Montebalban ended the 1975 commercial by saying “with Cordoba I have what I need”. Even more than 30 years after Montebalban who has starred in so many memorable movies and was even the star of a hit TV series - Fantasy Island (in the late 1970s and early 1980s) will probably be most remembered for his Chrysler Cordoba commercials. Nobody will remember James Garner’s many Mazda commercials or all the other commercials of big stars pitching different automobiles over the years. However Montebalban will always be remembered as the Chrysler Cordoba pitchman. Even young people born after the Cordoba was long gone, know Montebalban two famous words from his Cordoba commercials: “corinthian leather”.

    The Cordoba was built on the mid-sized Chrysler B-body, which was the smallest Chrysler in its day but it would be considered big by today’s standards. The Cordoba had a length of 215.3”, a width of 77.1”, and a wheelbase of 115”. For comparison sake the biggest car in Chrysler’s current 2008 fleet is the Chrysler 300 and it has a larger (than Cordoba) wheelbase of 120” but its length and width are only 196.8” and 74.1” respectfully.

    There’s no denying that a low base price of around $5,000 to buy a 1975 Cordoba, gave it strong sales however the Cordoba would never have sold in its large numbers had it not had the looks to go with its budget price. The Cordoba by 1975 standards was a handsome car. It had very elegant lines both inside and out. The general shape of the Cordoba was a short deck-lid and long hood design that the Pontiac Grand Prix had made famous. Of course the car still looked all Chrysler with familiar Chrysler design studio cues. The front end especially with its attractive grille was a dead giveaway this car was a Chrysler. The dual round headlight and dual round parking light design were very attractive and went well with the front grille, the design overall was very classy yet sporty. The rear design was also just as attractive with rear taillights that flowed well with its general lines. The “opera window” by the 1970s had become standard in most 2-door personal luxury cars. The Cordoba was no different, it had a nice-looking opera window behind each side window.

    The Cordoba may have been Chrysler’s small car but it had big block V8 power. This big block V8 was a 400 (CID) from Chrysler's B engine family. The big block B engine first started off in 1958 as a 350 CID V8 and grew in displacement during the 1960s and early 1970s. The B engine’s most famous displacement was the 383, a very popular V8 engine among the different Mopar muscle cars. The 400 was a larger bore 383. The 400 had a 4.34 in. bore verses the 383’s 4.25 in. bore and both motors shared the same 3.38 in. stroke. The Cordoba was available in two 400 V8 flavors; one was a 190 horsepower (2bbl carbureted) 400, the other a (dual exhaust) 225 horsepower (4bbl carbureted) 400. Though the Cordoba was sporty looking, it still was a luxury car and nothing was better to move a luxury car smoothly and effortlessly than a big motor like the 400 producing loads of low-end torque. Especially when you consider that the Cordoba's curb weight was right around 4,000 lbs.

    For those who wanted better fuel efficiency and decent acceleration there were two small block 360 CID V8s available: a 4 bbl (200 horsepower) and 2 bbl (180 horsepower) carbureted V8s. And since in 1975 gas was not cheap, Chrysler did offer on the Cordoba a very fuel efficient small block 318 CID V8 that produced 150 horsepower.

    Getting the power to pavement was Mopar’s trusty 3-speed torqueflite automatic transmission. It provided smooth shifts between gears. And it would come as no surprise that there were only grandpa style gear ratios available for the rear axle, so highway speeds were obtained at lower rpms (for better fuel efficiency) but it was at a cost of slightly slower acceleration.

    The Cordoba by today’s standards would not be considered a good handling car, however for a 1975 luxury car it was pretty responsive and its handling was better than most luxury cars of the day. What the Cordoba provided was a big luxury car ride in what was at the time a smaller car. The standard 15” wheels with GR78 x 15 white wall tires - the point where the car met the road, provided a nice comfortable ride.

    Where the Cordoba really shined was the plethora of options if offered. Unlike today when limited option packages rule the terrain, you could order a Cordoba with so many different personal options to make your Cordoba an almost “one of kind” car. For instance the interior provided so many different options, here alone you could make a one of a kind car. You could pick from a Split bench seat or bucket seats. There was the standard cloth interior, upgraded velour cloth interior, or the famous corinthian leather seats. And there were plenty of power and luxury options to make a Cordoba look and feel like a mini Chrysler Imperial.

    The Cordoba was the perfect luxury car for the time. Most Americans were feeling the pinch economically, and the Cordoba offered a smaller luxury car with lots of amenities, a big car ride, and status for a smaller car price. Chrysler was rewarded with its efforts with fabulous sales. Unfortunately Chrysler’s success with the Cordoba was short lived, only four short years later the economic situation worsened and there was a 2nd oil crises, pushing most Americans to smaller less expensive cars. Chrysler by this time was on the ropes and on the verge of bankruptcy. The introduction of the “mini-me” Chrysler K-car 2 years later for 1981 was the only thing that saved Chrysler from death. However that would not be enough to save the Cordoba which was cancelled after the 1983 model year.

    Unfortunately as popular as the Cordoba was for a few years after its original release, today it’s almost forgotten. For Cordoba fans that is a good thing since a loaded mint conditioned 1975 Cordoba will be no more than a very affordable $8,000. Good conditioned Cordobas cost no more than $5,000. To those that own these pieces of 1970s automotive history know as Recardo knew, that there is luxury and sophistication that only the Cordoba can provide.





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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – The Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Pete,

    Wonderful story; great memories!

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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – The Right Luxury Car for the Time

    I second that. Cool story.

    Pete's post makes me want to get one!

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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – The Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Thanks guys!

    Back almost 10 years ago I was at a Cars at Carlisle Show (Carlisle PA), There was a wonderful mint conditioned 1975 Cordoba for sale for what I recall was around $2,800. The car had low mileage and was a steal at that price, I should have pulled my checkbook out and bought it. These cars even today are a steal, they are great drivers and they get decent gas mileage for mid 1970s V8 powered cars.


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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    I can be as nostalgic as the next guy, but disco-era "luxury" cars is not something that I long for.

    This dressed up Dart was an unmitigated piece of crap, and the smog-stifled 318 was incredibly weak.

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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    misterd,

    The 1970 - 1976 Dodge Dart was based on Chrysler's A-body and had a 110" wheelbase, the Cordoba was based on the bigger Chrysler B-body and had a 115" wheelbase. So a Cordoba could never be called a dressed up Dart. In reality the '75 Cordoba was a dressed up '75 Dodge Charger SE.

    Just out of curosity what do you like from this era (mid 1970s)?

    Here's a '75 Dodge Charger SE:



    Compare it to a '75 Chrysler Cordoba:





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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – The Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I second that. Cool story.

    Pete's post makes me want to get one!
    Actually, it makes you realize how shitty today's cars are in the ways that really matter.... I, too, could handle a Cordoba!

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – The Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Thanks guys!

    Back almost 10 years ago I was at a Cars at Carlisle Show (Carlisle PA), There was a wonderful mint conditioned 1975 Cordoba for sale for what I recall was around $2,800. The car had low mileage and was a steal at that price, I should have pulled my checkbook out and bought it. These cars even today are a steal, they are great drivers and they get decent gas mileage for mid 1970s V8 powered cars.

    I, too, have become very nostalgic for even the "bread and butter" cars of the '70s. Being a pretty big guy, I miss large, comfortable cars - and by today's standards, the Cordoba is comparable to a Benz S-Class. And it is a lot less of an over-teched, over-priced,pretentious PITAS, too!

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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete


    Just out of curosity what do you like from this era (mid 1970s)?
    Do please correct me if I'm wrong, but by the mid-70s, wasn't wheelbase about the only difference between the A-body and B-body?

    As for what I like from the Dark Ages, that's a bit like asking what brand of rat poison tastes the best.

    American cars were so bad during that time, I only really cared about the imports. Fiat X 1/9, Lancia Beta and Scorpion, Jensen Healey, BMW 2002, VW Scirocco, those were some decent cars for the mid-70s. Although, as with the American iron from that time, construction quality on some of those was really awful.

    I just can't see how anyone can see crushed velour and "Corinthian Leather" interiors that look like a furnished mobile home as "luxurious". I suppose it's just a Gen-X thing to be blind to the awfulness of the '70s.

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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    I remember driving a buddy's 1973 Plymouth Fury III with the 360 motor. It wasn't a rocket or anything, but drove pretty respectably. I think that Chrysler made some of the more maneuverable cars of that period, if you can call those big boats maneuverable. They seemed to steer better than GM cars or Fords of similar vintage.

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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Do please correct me if I'm wrong, but by the mid-70s, wasn't wheelbase about the only difference between the A-body and B-body?

    As for what I like from the Dark Ages, that's a bit like asking what brand of rat poison tastes the best.

    American cars were so bad during that time, I only really cared about the imports. Fiat X 1/9, Lancia Beta and Scorpion, Jensen Healey, BMW 2002, VW Scirocco, those were some decent cars for the mid-70s. Although, as with the American iron from that time, construction quality on some of those was really awful.

    I just can't see how anyone can see crushed velour and "Corinthian Leather" interiors that look like a furnished mobile home as "luxurious". I suppose it's just a Gen-X thing to be blind to the awfulness of the '70s.
    The mechanics were basically the same but the A, B and C body cars shared no body parts and there was a world of difference between them. The A body cars weren't very good long distance drivers. Decent but no great performance because to stuff a big engine in the car the exhaust had to be restrictive to clear frame members. B bodies were the ones to have for performance. I used to take the bread and butter cars and hop them up. I built a Road Runner station wagon at one time. It started as a plain jane Satellite wagon with 8 passenger seating, dog dish wheels and hub caps, 383 engine, power steering, manual brakes and automatic. No radio, no air and as basic as they come. The C bodies were the long distance cruisers. These were the big road cars. You could drive all day and get to the end of the trip in decent shape.
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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Grouch,

    Great information there. Do you have any pictures of your wagon? Love to see what it looked like.


    Misterd,

    As Grouch said there is a big difference between the Chrysler A and B bodies. The difference in fact is so great that it's the same type of difference as the difference between a GM A-body and the (Nova) X-body.

    Did you ever own a Fiat X1/9? I knew several people who owned these back in the day and they were by far the most unreliable cars I have ever seen. A friend when I was in high school had one, and the car was in mint condition and spent most of its time looking good in his driveway because it did not run most of the time.

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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    I had two X 1/9s. Kept one of them, a '74, for over 12 years. I really only had a couple of recurring problems with it. First of all, the hydraulics were dodgy, mostly due to underspecified master cylinders (brakes and clutch). Secondly, even with an air filter, the carburetor had a tendency to collect dirt in the main jets and in the passage between the two float bowls. I was constantly disassembling the carb to blow out bits of crud. Whenever I walked into Roy Rogers Foreign Car Parts, they'd already have a Weber gasket kit for the 32DMTRa carburetor on the counter by the time I got to the front of the line.

    Oh, and rust, which is ultimately what took the car off the road.

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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    A coworker in Germany had a X 1/9. He never got the carburation right on it, as it always ran rough. He later made two fatal mistakes with it:

    1. He turned it over to his supervisor to paint while he was on leave. The supervisor took it to the base auto shop along with some beer, and proceeded to apply about three coats too many of metallic blue -- it came out purple.

    2. Because of the carburation problems, the fuel hose worked it's way loose because of all the times it had been removed/replaced. This caused a fire which burned only the engine compartment, but that was enough to end the career of the purple X 1/9.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: 1975 Chrysler Cordoba – Right Luxury Car for the Time

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    I had two X 1/9s. Kept one of them, a '74, for over 12 years. I really only had a couple of recurring problems with it. First of all, the hydraulics were dodgy, mostly due to underspecified master cylinders (brakes and clutch). Secondly, even with an air filter, the carburetor had a tendency to collect dirt in the main jets and in the passage between the two float bowls. I was constantly disassembling the carb to blow out bits of crud. Whenever I walked into Roy Rogers Foreign Car Parts, they'd already have a Weber gasket kit for the 32DMTRa carburetor on the counter by the time I got to the front of the line.

    Oh, and rust, which is ultimately what took the car off the road.
    misterd,

    I had heard the same thing about the carb problems.

    I forgot to mention the X1/9 was a great looking car. The car had plenty of room for a small sports car and the power was good for a small 4 banger. The car handled well too. However the best feature of this car was also the best feature of the 914, and that was the removable targa top. On my old Fiero I had a sunroof, but a targa top would have been so much better.


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    Ricardo Montalban Passes

    If you haven't heard already, Ricardo Montalban passed away earlier this week. He was 88 years old. He was perhaps the best ad man of the mid 1970's for the Chrysler Cordoba.

    His ads still make me laugh.

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    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    If you haven't heard already, Ricardo Montalban passed away earlier this week. He was 88 years old. He was perhaps the best ad man of the mid 1970's for the Chrysler Cordoba.

    His ads still make me laugh.
    Good role for him here:



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