By on July 7, 2012

After yesterday’s Junkyard Find, which was AMC’s answer to the very successful Chrysler Cordoba personal luxury coupe, it seems only right that we look at the car that inspired AMC’s marketers to start searching maps of Spain for car names: the Chrysler Cordoba. Here’s a ’79 that I spotted at a Denver self-serve yard last week.
Cordobas sold pretty well, but they aren’t considered particularly collectible nowadays. This means that junkyard visitors still see a steady stream of the plush Malaise Era Chrysler coupes; I found this ’78 in the same junkyard during the winter.
Unlike that car, today’s Cordoba lacks the optional Corinthian Leather upholstery that we associate with the Cordoba (though it was available in other Chrysler models well into the 1980s). I so admired the Corinthian Leather bench seat in the junked ’78 that I bought it and used it as the basis for a classy garage couch.
The stack of sun-bleached Denver parking tickets tells us the reason this car ended up getting towed and scrapped.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

38 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Chrysler Cordoba...”

  • avatar

    Might be hard for some to believe, but the Cordoba really was a big deal back in the day.

    I clearly remember one of my cousins gushing “Oh, he drives a Cordoba!” as she described a guy she liked. (I can’t imagine how the rest of her description of that guy went — “he wears platform shoes and real imported rayon shirts from Italy…”)

    Today, I usually hear that same enthusiasm for the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger. Which makes sense, because now that we’re back to enjoying real muscle cars, we don’t need “personal luxury” rides.

    • 0 avatar

      “…we don’t need “personal luxury” rides.”

      I think what has actually happened is that today’s muscle cars ARE personal luxury coupes. Even in base form, they are every bit as luxurious as this “luxury car.” The truth is, even a basic family sedan CamAcorSon compares favorably with a Cadillac from the 60s and 70s for true luxury. (not that perceived luxury that never really exited beyond the minds of marketers and those who believed the ad copy.)

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I think what has actually happened is that today’s muscle cars ARE personal luxury coupes.

        Amen – 6 cyl automatic equipted Camaros, Mustangs, and Challengers with leather and top of the line stereos are the reason there is no Monte Carlo and no Thunderbird and no Cordoba.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      I have to disagree with you guys on this one. Modern muscle cars have lots of bells and whistles, but this does not make them personal luxury cars. The closest modern American equivalent of personal luxury would be the Cadillac CTS coupe. The CTS is distinctive, exclusive and is a real luxury car.

      The abominations marketed as personal luxury cars in the 1970’s and 1980’s were a far cry from what the segment originally represented. In the 1960’s personal luxury cars were defined by their price, elegance and level of refinement. For example, Thunderbirds of the period had truely distinctive styling, they were available with almost every feature available at the time, and they were priced in Lincoln territory well above all other models in the Ford and Mercury line-ups. The contemporary Riviera, Toronado and Eldorado followed the same template.

      During the 1970’s the personal luxury segment lost its way and never recovered. Popularly priced models were introduced that moved the segment downmarket away from its luxury car roots. The elegant, mid-century styling of the 1960’s was replaced by the tasteless opulance of the 1970’s. In the early 1970’s personal luxury cars were super-sized to outrageous proportions. Then, in the late 1970’s they were radically downsized. Finally, in the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s they were transformed into wannabe Euro-style luxury-sport coupes.

      It’s no surprise the personal luxury segement declined and disappeared. It started out as something exclusive. It became something common. High-style was replaced by bad taste. In terms of packaging and ergonomics, personal luxury coupes were never very practical. By the 1990’s times and fashion changed and other segments became the new must-have vehicles. What was once aspirational became old hat and undesireable.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, the comment makes total sense. The Camaro and Challenger are simply highly styled coupes build on full-size sedan platforms, with all the girth and “road hugging weight” that goes along with it. In V6 form, with automatics, and luxe interiors, they are targeted to customers that like the idea of cruising around in a stylish coupe, not at enthusiasts looking for power.

        What GM, Chrysler, and to a certain extent, Ford, have done is simply condense several different market segments into a single model. The more luxurious versions of the modern muscle cars go after the same person that might have otherwise bought a personal luxury coupe, while the high performance or stripped down versions go after the traditional muscle car buyer. It does a fairly good job of satisfying the two markets without the need for the extra development and marketing budgets that two separate models would create.

        Ford recognized long ago that the increasing “civility” of the Mustang made a separate personal luxury nameplate superfluous, which is why the reincarnated Thunderbird took the form of a smallish roadster, it was the only way they could justify re-adding the model to their lineup since there was no more room for another proper coupe.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Having a preference for 2 doors I owned my share of personal luxury coupes over the years, all bought used. 74 Cougar, 80 Toronado, 81 Monte Carlo, 87 Thunderbird and my current ride 95 Thunderbird. I also owned sport coupes a 70 Mustang and a 81 Honda Prelude. Back in the 70’s personal luxury coupes became aspirational vehicles, maybe it was the rococo styling and interior appointments. Growing up in the 60’s-70’s many a neighbor of mine owned them, moving up from their more pedestrian breathern. The Chevelle owner moving up to a Monte Carlo, LeMans to a Grand Prix, Satelite to a Cordoba. Now aspirational is moving up from a VW to an Audi or Toyota to Lexus.

      • 0 avatar

        Try telling that to the Cutlass Supreme which was the best selling personal luxury car at various times in the 70’s and 80’s and is still saught after today in V8 coupe form. The Cutlass was Americas sweetheart for much of those two decades and was far from tasteless. The Regal was also popular. During the late 80’s buyer prefferenes starting shifting to trucks/SUV’s and sedans and the then new batch of personal luxury coupes from GM in W-body form, Ford with the new 1989 T-Bird/Cougar and the smaller Euro styled Chrysler LeBaron. If anything the Personal coupes went out of style just like station wagons, T-tops, vinyl roof treatment, pinstripes, wire wheels and white sidewall tires.

  • avatar

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Gasp.

  • avatar

    It surprises me how nice that interior is, given what I’ve heard of their quality for a while now. Looks very nice even with it’s age and wear/tear.

    • 0 avatar

      IMO, Chrysler led the pack in the mid to late ’70s for interiors. The ’74 Imperial, for example, with their ‘tufted’ seats were quite spectacular for their day. (Sadly, they did not age well, but then neither do tufted armchairs that get sat in for hours at a time and left in the sun all day!)
      Chrysler’s plastics and interior bits were not any better or worse than anyone else’s. As a starry-eyed 14 year old, I had occasion to drive a ’75 Mirada (Cordoba clone) and with my vast experience of having driven 3 vehicles by then (a ’69 Chrysler 300, ’63 Dodge with the push button transmission and my mother’s ’67 Newport), I was impressed.
      During those times, we clung to faint hopes.

      • 0 avatar

        I was a manager at a Chrysler/Plymouth store back in the mid 70s and the Cordobas were head turners back then. I drove two as demos. They were loaded with every possible option, T-Tops, CB radios, leather etc. One was Black with silver leather and silver landeau top. The other was Yellow with saddle gut and top. They were hot shit rides in the day. The ladies loved them too.

  • avatar

    I wonder how many heads were impaled by the corners of the trunk where the license plate cut out is. One good gust of wind when loading the groceries…

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The folks at Consumer Reports used to point out useful things like this back in the day. Sharp edges, trunk lids that when open could cause you to bang your head etc.

  • avatar

    A few years ago a bought a 75 Cordoba, 1 owner car with 75k original miles. It had the 360 in it, flowmasters, cragars, and the burgandy fine Corinthian Leather with console. I wanted a cruise night special and was on a budget. I got more people looking at my Cordoba then Chevelles and Mopars worth 10 times as much. Its amazing how many people came up to me saying that they grew up in the very same car and how the common folk could relate to it. How it was “Classy”. I also got many comments by some older folks letting me know how alot of them apparently lost there virginity in one. I wound up selling it as a loss but had fun for the 2 years of ownership.

  • avatar

    It is striking to me how different these cars are compared to the K-cars that came soon after. They were both ugly, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    • 0 avatar

      My father had a Chrysler Dodge dealership in the early and mid-80s, as the K-derivatives were being rolled out. For a couple of years the showroom lineup was pretty schizophrenic–with the old school down one side (Cordobas, Diplomats, RWD Fifth Avenues, etc) and the new down the other (K-cars, “E” cars, minivans, etc). The two products groups shared very little in terms of parts and even less in design philosophy … as if they came from two completely different companies.

  • avatar

    Of course Corinthian Leather was thought up by some Marketing guy.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Amigos, without that fine Corinthian leather,it was just another, overweight, underpowered, sloppy American car. Gracias, Ricardo.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, it’s amazing what the right spokesman, along with a memorable ad campaign, can do for car sales. As evidence, just look back at the sales of the virtually identical Dodge Charger. Same car, but without Ricardo and the ‘Corinthian’ leather (although I’m all but certain the leather in the Charger was exactly the same). IIRC, sales of the Cordoba-era Charger were a shadow of the Cordoba’s.

      • 0 avatar

        There was a proposal to give the Charger it’s own styling at the time the mid-size models were being redesigned, but the muscle era was over, and Chrysler couldn’t justify the expense. So, the blocky Charger languished on dealer lots, while the Cordoba became a much needed success.
        Former Raymond Loewy staff designer, Bob Marcks, who went to Chrysler after the close of Studebaker, designed a custom Cordoba for Ricardo which he drove for many years. Later, Ricardo sold the car to Marcks. Today, it’s one of the most valuable Cordobas in existence.

      • 0 avatar

        Quote: “Today, it’s one of the most valuable Cordobas in existence”

        I’ve read that line at least five times, and I’m still laughing.

  • avatar

    Say Ricardo where’s my less-than-a-barge wheels from Hispanic Windsor, Ontario? Chrysler was struggling back in the 70’s. 1st gen Cordoba brought the bacon in. Hmm was it Ric & Corinthian or more the Cordoba?

  • avatar

    Had a ’78. Pretty car, really nice interior. Engine knocked.

  • avatar

    If you want to keep it really authentic:

    Douka, Despoina, & Co E.E.
    Kritika, Corinth 20007, Greece
    +30 2741 074084 ‎
    Category: Wholesale of hides, skins and leather

  • avatar

    Khan! I’m laughing at your superior intelligence.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    My brother-in-law had one , a 1979 I believe , bought new . Same color but with a brown vinyl top and tutone paint and a darker brown interior in cloth . At the time I was impressed by the comfort and durable , heavy fabric look of the upholstery , which this example shows in very good shape , even more impressive being a resident in sunny , dry , car interior killing Denver . Went on a couple of long trips in it , and the brother-in-law raved about the great gas mileage ( ?) but he traded it in after a short time on a new El Camino which is what he usually drove . I always thought the round headlight version was much more attractive .

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with the round headlite comment, I liked these cars at the time, but thought the rectangular headlights was bowing to a fashion trend that was a mistake. Like Jaguar going with rectangular lights, big mistake IMHO.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I love the comparison of the cheesy medallions on this car compared with yesterday’s Matador Barcelona . Both representing what – a Spanish doubloon from their respective cities encased in plastic . I think the Cordoba’s , tacky though it is , has the Barcelona’s less convincing medallion beat , hands down .

  • avatar

    I think these cars are amazing and should be cherished like the madly wonderful fin-mobiles of the Fifties!

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. Being barely old enough to appreciate the ’60s era first hand, the ’70s and ’80s was my era.
      I was aghast as the ugly bumper era began in ’73. So few cars learned to grace those ugly proboscises. When I talked a friend’s father out of a ’74 Charger SE (no rear seat room and the opera window was awful from the inside), I was aghast when he bought a ’74 Ford LTD instead (FUGLY!) Well, at least it was a Brougham! LOL
      Looking back, there were so few cars to get excited over. The slow incursion of Japanese tin cans (a friend got a Datsun 200SX in ’79 for his birthday and we all thought his dad had lost his mind) didn’t even register amongst my peers.
      As a budding car aficionado, it was with growing alarm that the fading glory vehicles of the ’70s morphed into the even worse atrocities of the ’80s. Imagine trying to get excited about a Dodge 600 convertible!
      My first car was a ’67 Polara, bought in ’79. From there, I continued my Mopar penance and bought a (new) ’82 Rampage.
      Like I said: it was hard to get excited about anything in those days. The Cordoba in all its iterations was the last shining gasp of Chrysler’s glory days. For me, I gave up when the Iacocca Imperial reared its ugly head in ’91. I liked the original K-car, but the vinyl-roofed Imperial was atrocious.
      Chrysler, RIP.

  • avatar

    The big problem with bashing cars from a bygone era is the 20/20 hindsight and inherent superiority complex that initiates the attacks. The Cordoba and all other 70s cars were part of a different time for cars, thus any analysis of the cars has to be measured by the 1970s and not 2012. I was old enough to drive them at the time and did not judge them in such harsh terms. Putting 70s cars under the microscope in 2012 is unrealistic.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Very handsome dash layout for that time period

  • avatar

    I had a ’79 Cordoba back in college. I thought it was a wonderful car, with the comfy leather seats, a 360ci V8 that had a decent blend of power and fuel mileage, and looked pretty snazzy with it’s white roof on red with black cop wheels. Sadly, rust ate through the rear suspension brackets and I was forced to sell it. Miss that thing.

  • avatar

    My step-dad had one of these when I was a kid in the early 1990’s. I believe his was a ’77 model, and I remember thinking that it was a truly BEAUTIFUL car. Altho, I have always had a soft spot for the Maliese Era American cars…especially the Granada.

  • avatar

    OK, I apprecieate the comments offered about the Cordoba but I’m more interested in locating parts many of the exterior ones shown on the Murilee Martin pics of the ’78 dated 7/7/12. Who can help me with my long search?

  • avatar

    I believe in the 1970’s and 1980’s car makers spent more time designing coach lamps and company medallions for vehicles than they actually did on the overall vehicle.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mopar4wd: On a personal level I would really like an EV, and a pickup truck but not an EV pickup. But that comes down...
  • mcs: @wolfwagen; What he was saying was that essentially highways and other infrastructure has been used to reinforce...
  • dantes_inferno: A four-legged Bronco is far more reliable than a four-wheeled one.
  • Hayden535: McAuliffe lost because of mask mandates and him being a corporatist Democrat who offered no meaningful...
  • Astigmatism: I don’t see anything there that merits moderation – insulting the intelligence of our...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber