Chrysler Cordoba

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Chrysler Cordoba
1978-1979 Chrysler Cordoba
ManufacturerChrysler Corporation
AssemblyWindsor, Ontario, Canada
ClassPersonal luxury car
Body style(s)2-door coupe
LayoutFR layout
Transmission(s)3-speed automatic
ManualsService Manual

Chrysler Cordoba was the name of an intermediate personal luxury coupe sold by Chrysler Corporation in North America from 1975 to 1983. It was the company's first model produced specifically for the personal luxury market and the first Chrysler-branded vehicle that was less than full-size.


In the early 1960s, when other upmarket brands were expanding into smaller cars with such models as the Mercury Comet and Buick Skylark, the company had very publicly declared that there would "never" be a smaller Chrysler. Historians of the marque noted later that "never" on the Chrysler timeline had equaled not quite fifteen years. The Cordoba became one of Chrysler's few genuine hits of the 1970s, at a time when Chrysler was teetering on bankruptcy. Built in Windsor, Ontario, demand actually exceeded supply for its first couple of years, when production was over 150,000 annually. Half of Chrysler division production during this period (and occasionally more) was composed of Cordobas.

Although Córdoba is the name of a city in Spain, the car's emblem was actually a stylized version of the Argentine cordoba coin. Either way, the implication was Hispanic, and this theme was carried out with somewhat baroque trim inside and by having Mexican movie star Ricardo Montalban as the car's advertising spokesman. Notable was his eloquent praise of its "soft Corinthian leather" interior.[1]

First generation (1975-1979)

First generation
Chrysler Cordoba
Engine(s)318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8
360 cu in (5.9 L) LA V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) B
Transmission(s)3-speed A727 automatic
Wheelbase115 in (2921 mm)
Length215.3 in (5469 mm)
Width77.1 in (1958 mm)
Height52.6 in (1336 mm)
RelatedChrysler 300
Dodge Charger
Dodge Magnum

The Chrysler Cordoba was first introduced for 1975, as an upscale personal luxury car; At the time the personal luxury market overall, was large and growing. The car carried the Chrysler name, then associated exclusively with large luxury models like the Imperial. It was priced to compete with rivals such as the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Ford Elite, though its real competition was the phenomenally successful Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. The Cordoba was originally intended to be a Plymouth (the names Mirada, Premier, and Grand Era were associated with the project), but the losses from the newly introduced full-size C-body in 1974 (at the onset of the energy crisis) encouraged Chrysler executives to seek higher profits by marketing the model as a Chrysler, a name that still had an upscale appeal at the time. The success of this strategy is well illustrated by the fact that its similar and somewhat cheaper corporate cousin, the Dodge Charger SE, only sold about a quarter as well.

1978-1979 Cordoba, with rectangular headlights

The original design endured with only very small changes for three years before a variety of factors contributed to a decline in sales. For 1978, there was a modest restyling with the then de rigueur rectangular headlights in a stacked configuration that had the unfortunate effect of making the Cordoba look much like the 1976 to 1977 Monte Carlo from the front. A Chrysler designer, Jeffrey Godshall, wrote in his article on the Cordoba in Collectible Automobile magazine that this restyling was viewed as "somewhat tacky" and eliminated much of the visual appeal that the 1975 to 1977 Cordobas had been known for. The restyle also made the car appear heavier than its 1975-77 predecessor.

At the same time, Chrysler's financial position and quality reputation was in steady decline, and rising gas prices and tightening fuel economy standards made the Cordoba's nearly 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) weight with 360 cu in (5.9 L) or 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engines obsolete. In its final year, 1979, however, high performance made a return as the original Cordoba provided the platform for a one-year-only revival of the Chrysler 300 name.

Second generation (1980-1983)

Second generation
Engine(s)3.7 L Slant 6 I6
5.2 L LA V8
5.9 L LA V8
Wheelbase112.7 in (2863 mm)
Length210.1 in (5337 mm)
LS: 209.6 in (5324 mm)
Width72.7 in (1847 mm)
Height53.2 in (1351 mm)
RelatedDodge Mirada
Imperial (1981-1983)

The Cordoba was downsized for the 1980 model year. The new smaller model used the J-platform, which dated back to the 1976 Plymouth Volaré and was twinned up with the newly-named but very similar Dodge Mirada. Chrysler also revived the Imperial for 1981 as a third variant of the J-platform. The Cordoba and Mirada now had a standard six-cylinder engine (the famous 225 Slant Six), which, while very reliable, did not seem to be suitable power for these slightly upmarket coupes. The much-detuned >318 cu in (5.2 L) V8 was an option (standard on the Imperial), along with (for 1980 only) the 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8, which was in its final year in Chrysler's cars.

The second-generation Cordoba's styling did not attract the praise of the original, and sales were off substantantially. It is true that downsizing was tough on personal luxury models generally; both the Monte Carlo in 1978 and the 1980 Ford Thunderbird shrank in size and sales simultaneously. However, those models eventually recovered as their makers moved to correct their cars' flaws, while the smaller Cordoba never did. Chrysler was increasingly concentrating on its compact, front wheel drive models with modern four and six-cylinder engines, and management stopped producing the Cordoba in 1983.


Today, the model has a fairly loyal owner base and some models are considered collectible. The very early production 1975s, particularly with the optional four-barrel carburetor, and the Cordoba-based 300 of 1979 are the most valuable. The second generation Cordoba has attracted little interest in the collector market so far. Except for the rare few LS models, Which sported a stylish aerodynamic nosecone with "crosshairs" grill. Other features of this model were vinyl top delete and monotone coloring, mint condition LS's have been appraised at over $25,000.[citation needed]

Popular culture

Pittsburgh Penguins radio announcer Mike Lange, known for his colorful expressions or "Lange-isms", occasionally uses the phrase "Hop in the Cordoba baby, we're going bowling!" after announcing a goal. In 2008, Lange said "You can hop in the Cordoba baby, we're going dancing with Lord Stanley!" after the Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers for the NHL Eastern Conference Championship, thus earning them a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. It is also mentioned in the movie Meatballs as a joke as a prize that could be won by guessing what kind of meat the campers were served.[citation needed]


  1. Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 25. ISBN 0465041957. 

External links