With its clean lines and Corinthian leather, the Cordoba is one of the Chrysler brand’s more memorable cars, but it was originally designed as a Plymouth. Here’s the story of The New Small Car From Chrysler for 1975.
In the early 1970s, the Chrysler Corporation’s namesake Chrysler division was in real danger. From a peak of nearly 261,000 units in 1969, sales of the automaker’s senior car brand tumbled to a mere 117,000 cars in 1974—hardly enough to keep the lights on.
The division’s big luxury sedans, all based on the corporation’s massive C-body platform, weren’t selling, in a nutshell. To expand and recharge the model line, product planners took a bold step. They lifted a project from the company’s Plymouth division—a proposed personal luxury coupe based on the smaller Satellite/Sebring package. With some minor changes in trim, features, and badges, the Plymouth became the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba.
Built on the corporation’s B-body intermediate platform with a 115-inch wheelbase, the Cordoba was designed by the Chrysler B-Body Studio staff headed by Allen Kornmiller, a veteran of Ford, AMC and Chrysler. The exterior embraced all the familiar styling cues of the personal luxury category: long hood and short deck, Mercedes-style grille, formal roofline, opera windows, and crisp, cultured body lines. While the styling broke no new ground, the Cordoba’s classy execution made it one of the cleaner examples of the breed.
Introduced on September 4, 1974, the ’75 Cordoba was offered in only one body style, the Model 22 two-door coupe. Choices included two available vinyl tops, halo or landau, and three V8 engines: 318 CID, 360 CID, and a 400 CID big-block V8, all coupled to the company’s trusty TorqueFlite automatic transmission. There was also long list of comfort and luxury options, of course. With a base price of $5,072, slightly more than a Chevy Monte Carlo but significantly less than a Pontiac Grand Prix, the Cordoba flew out of the Chrysler showrooms right from the start. Billed as “the new, small Chrysler,” the model sold more than 150,000 units in its first year, accounting for 60 percent of the division’s total volume of 251,000 cars in ’75.
One of the key focus points of the red-hot personal-luxury class of the 1970s was the cabin, the driver’s seat in particular. Here the Cordoba didn’t disappoint, with instruments and controls clustered tightly around the driver and a choice of three-wide bench seating or bucket seats with console. Buyers could also choose between classic ’70s velour fabrics or the “rich Corinthian leather” of song and story, as shown above. (Watch the original Cordoba TV commercial with actor Ricardo Montalbán here.)
Thanks to the brisk demand, the Cordoba received only modest trim changes for the first several years, followed by a minor facelift in 1978 to include trendy rectangular headlamps. But by then, Cordoba sales were slipping, a trend that was not reversed by a complete redesign for 1980 on the Chrysler J-body platform (a stretched Volare/Aspen, essentially) and the Cordoba name was dropped in 1983. The industry had taken a new direction, and Chrysler, too: to K-cars, front-wheel drive, and minivans.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.