By on April 2, 2013

It seems strange, but sufficient Chrysler Cordobas still exist to provide a sporadic flow of fresh examples to self-serve wrecking yards. In this series, we’ve seen this ’78, another ’78, this ’79, and now today’s personally luxurious blue ’80.
The downsized second-gen 1980-83 Cordobas, which were based on the Volare/Diplomat platform and didn’t differ much from their Dodge Mirada siblings, sold very poorly. You aren’t going to find many of these things today, either on the street or lined up before the Crusher’s jaws.
Soft Corinthian Leather was still an option— Ricardo Montalban would have quit in disgust otherwise— but this car has the more affordable soft Corinthian Velour.
With a smog-o-lated 318 under the hood, chopping a few hundred extra pounds out of the Cordoba for the ’80 model year made this car a much livelier performer.
The landau roof and touch-o-plastic-class grille treatment were properly Cordoba-ish, but where did the “gold” medallions go?

Not to worry, Ricardo liked what they did to his car!

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34 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1980 Chrysler Cordoba...”

  • avatar

    Many years ago I had an ’81 Mirada that I turned in to a bracket racing drag car with a warmed up 360 and 8-3/4 axle swap. It was pretty unique, and in spite of looking like somewhat of a turd, always drew attention because it was unique.

  • avatar

    These are long gone in New England area. I may be see one in several years if that.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    I remember Dad’s silver Ricardo Cordoba, doors equal in size to those found on a refrigerator (and were twice as heavy). His was a late 70s model, with the round headlights. Four-million cubic inch motor drank fifty cent per gallon gas like grape Kool Aid, and it floated like a pontoon houseboat down the interstate, but didn’t handle quite as well.

  • avatar

    Don’t worry, the gold medallion coins have simply been removed from this example. You know, with “gold” worth so much today.

    I have a pristine 33K mile all original ’81 Cordoba, and it has the gold coin medallions “tastefully” applied on the steering wheel hub, inside door panels and fender badges. Possibly elsewhere, too.

  • avatar

    When I was 17, Dad got mom one of these. I thought it was so much better looking than the neighbor’s Monte Carlo look-a-like older Cordoba. Solid maroon with matching interior. I think all the Cordoba/Mirada’s upper door panels split at the door lock stem a couple of months after purchase. It had the 318 also. Before I checked the air pressure, which averaged around 15 psi, my friends and I all watched in amazement as the gas hand slowly dropped when I kept it floored for several miles down a straight. We all took turns driving to school, so at the end of the day, it performed as well as the rest of the parent’s cars doing what we called power slides, but known today as drifting.
    This car did 70′ jumps off the Graham place hill most afternoons. The hard part was exiting the S-curve and maintaining 83 mph. But if the speed was correct, the landing was smooth as silk. Those torsion bars got a workout.
    I took it on my first date with the new girl in school, Della. She came out looking ravishing and exclaimed, “Oh. A new luxury car.” In reality the maroon interior was vinyl, not rich Corinthian. But the seats were comfortable and the ride was smooth. In the days of personal luxury cars, this was more exclusive than Mark Vs and VIs and especially Thunderbirds and Cougars, LTD IIs, in western Kentucky. It really did have some nice lines.
    I wondered how much faster the 360 would have been instead of the 318, but fuel consumption must have been abysmal in those. That must have been an issue, because it wasn’t long before it was replaced with a penalty box Horizon Miser that everyone hated but me.

  • avatar

    Richard was a sweet old man.

    “Grandpaaaaa, can you fix this?”, said little Eric while handing Richard an electronic toy airplane. Rich smiled, and said “Well, I’ll sure try”. The two made their way out to the garage. Little Eric stood for a moment, puzzled by what he saw. To him, it was unmistakably a car, but nothing like his mom’s new Nissan Quest. He was intrigued. “Is this YOUR car Grandpa?”, he exclaimed as he labored to open the door. Rich smiled, and watched for a moment, as the height-challenged Eric struggled with the ancient mechanics of operating the metal handle. “You like it?”, he said as he effortlessly lifted the handle and swung open the huge door. Eric climbed over to the passenger side and assumed the riding posture. He sat there quietly for a moment, just taking the car in. Rich had a wry smile, as a motionless child is something to behold in itself.

    Richard’s focus was now back to the electronic toy. He opened his Kennedy and retrieved a vintage wood-handled screwdriver. The door to the garage opened, and Eric’s siblings had located the AWOL twosome. “It’s soooo soft!”, the kids screamed with delight. Rich was only slightly distracted from his task, as the little hellions turned his Cordoba into a jungle gym. Fixing this toy was the most important task he had in recent memory. His tools were once something he used everyday, now it was a challenge just to twist the small phillips screw loose.

    Suddenly, all was quiet, then the odd silence was broken by an “Ohhhhhh”. Always a bad sign. Rich walked to the car for a damage assessment. The door’s pleather strap hung loose from one of it’s mounts. The kid’s parents suddenly appeared, their spidey senses triggered by the property damage.

    “What did you guys do? (Gasp) You broke Grandpa’s car.”
    Accusations flew. Small skirmishes broke out. Eric walked behind the Chrysler and sobbed. “Sorry dad”, said Tim. “Don’t worry son.” Rich said as he slapped him on the back. “It’s just that cheap ass Corinthian leather.”

    Richard went around the Cordoba to find the watery-eyed Eric. He flipped the switch on the toy, and presented the aircraft to the boy as the turbine spoolup sound emanated from the Chinese speaker. Eric’s face lit up instantly, and he began to pilot the plane around the garage. “Thanks Grandpa!!!”

    Few things mattered to Richard at this stage of his life more than the joy of a grandchild. Now alone in the garage, he looked at the damage to the crappy old Chrysler. He fetched an old handle out of the junk drawer, and carefully selected some self-tapping screws.

    “Now let’s fix you.”, he said as he picked up his battered cordless drill for the last time.

  • avatar
    Muttley Alfa Barker

    Ricardo would hate to see this. In fact, he is probably rolling in grave from disgust at the sight of one of these in a junkyard.

  • avatar

    Is this on the same chassis as the Imperial Coupe from that time? *cough Frank Sinatra tape set cough*

    • 0 avatar

      It sure is. In fact, the front fenders, doors, windshields, dash structures, etc., all interchanged between the 1980-83 Cordoba and the 81-83 Imperial.

      They called the Cordoba / Mirada a J-body, and the Imperial was a Y-body, but they were really the same car for the most part — and both were closely related to the M-body (Diplomat, Lebaron), which in turn was basically an F-body (Aspen, Volare), which was the descendant of the A-body (Valiant, Dart).

      Truth be told, these are pretty nice malaise-era personal luxury coupes. Even mine, with the leaning tower of power Slant 6!

  • avatar

    The Cordoba was a late in the game entry to mirror the success of the 1969 Pontiac Gran Prix and 1970 Monte Carlo.

    The original owner of this 1980 Cordoba probably lamented the late 1970’s extinction of the traditional full-sized land yacht.

  • avatar

    Compared to the 1980 Thunderbird, Cougar XR-7 or Lincoln Mark VI, the Cordoba and Mirada where gorgeous. I always admired how Chrysler got the proportions right when downsizing the Cordoba. Unfortunately Chrysler at the time didn’t have the money to promote the cars properly.

  • avatar

    The poor 318 was strangled down to a mere 120 HP by 1980 meaning this car, even with reduced weight, was more of a stroller than a performer. Worse, the rear end ratio was only 2.24:1 for reduced highway RPM but also contributed to lackadaisical performance. The 130 HP 360 was still available but very few were so equipped. The first thing I would do with one of these is ditch the lean burn carb and install a cop 4BBL intake and carb plus a bit more timing which makes a world of difference. A cop 2.94:1 rear end wouldn’t hurt either.

    • 0 avatar

      Farmers were always looking down their noses at 318s if they had a 360 in their trucks. I never knew there was only 10 more hp. Incredible. Our truck performed adequately with a slant 6.

    • 0 avatar

      The 318 in my 72 Fury was rated at 150 HP net…so over eight years a loss of 30 horses. Not an insignificant loss. But these engines were easy to wake up, and lasted a long time…

  • avatar

    The Cordoba/Mirada actually had quite nice wheels. They fit, and look good, on a lot of classic Mopars. If you find some cheap at a flea market, grab them.

  • avatar

    Someone(s) took very good care of this car – hard to believe it’s 33 years old…velour looks like it was just shampooed. And the DIY door pull is fantastic – maybe it was cast from the missing gold medallions?

  • avatar

    Hmm. Had the Cordoba’s sibling, a 1980 Dodge Mirada. Slant 6 with the solid lifters. I think Chrysler put hydraulic lifters in the Slant 6 starting in 1983.

    Not a bad riding car. Passengers always commented favorably, but really didn’t know what they were riding in. No money for marketing at the edge of corporation bankruptcy, I guess.

    The power windows were very badly designed. The track was a long , toothed piece of nylon, which would break right near its attachment point. I must have gone through 5 of those devils. The AC system made it a little past the warranty period expiration (50K miles).

    I modified the valve body on the torqueflight so that the converter would lock up a bit later than stock. I also installed a “Super 6″ setup (two barrel carb, intake, etc). I blew up the rear shortly after that modification. The 7 1/4” rear end was a very spindly affair.

    The subject Cordoba’s rear bumper cover is falling apart; the same happened to my Mirada, but the dealer was able to get me a new cover in primer.

    Not a bad commuter car, at all. I got pretty good gas mileage with the 6. I replaced the number 5 exhaust valve (Slant 6’s burned them quite often). Eventually, the Mirada started developing wiring problems, right before my son blew up the “indestructable” Slant 6 at about 175K.

  • avatar

    This post reminds me of something I noticed at the late Walter P. Chrysler museum on my last trip there in December — apparently Chrysler itself believes Montalban said “rich Corinthian leather.” Forgive the bad snapshot, but here it is:

  • avatar

    This looks like another “Grandma’s car” that the estate administered by a non-car-person wanted to sell and discovered it was worth more as scrap than trying to offload it as a functional vehicle. Which is, to be fair, a reasonably accurate assessment.

  • avatar

    Perhaps the original owner was Herbert J. Tarlek, the inept plaid -sport=coated ad salesman for “WKRP in Cincinatti?” I remember the outcome for one of his idiot schemes was a new car: “Fine corinthian leather, Travis. Cordoba for me-a.”

  • avatar

    Looks like Chrysler designers “borrowed” some styling cues from other automakers. The front end somewhat resembles a 1978-80 Mercury Monarch, while the taillights look a bit like those on a 1977 Buick Electra 225.

    This car is a reminder of why GM absolutely dominated the personal luxury segment in the early Eighties. With this mediocre redesign of the Cordoba and the introduction of it’s Dodge Mirada sibling, and with Ford’s poorly received 1980 redesign of the Thunderbird and Cougar, both automakers pretty much handed the personal luxury segment over to GM on a silver platter.

    • 0 avatar

      If I remember correctly, the Cordoba was never really a personal luxury car…more of a mid-size, like a Monte Carlo, Regal or Grand Prix. Imperial was the only real personal luxury car Chrysler built (’81-’83) that competed w/the Caddy Eldorado, Olds Toronado, Buick Riveria, and Lincoln Mark in price and luxury. The T-bird was relegated to the mid-size class w/it’s ’77 make-over.

  • avatar

    It’s sad when you see a car like this. You can tell it was lovingly cared for during it’s lifetime and when it’s owner passed on or was no longer able to drive, it went to a family member or friend who drove it into the ground. This happened to my great uncle’s ’71 Riv. It sat pampered 44 years in a garage and meticulously maintained the entire time. When he and my great aunt passed, his daughter destroyed it within a year and it went to a junk yard.

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