During the 1960s Chrysler was very adamant about their commitment to large cars. The other automakers were introducing more and more smaller vehicles, but Chrysler made a stand. It was something that they used for marketing purposes, insisting that they would never sell a “junior” anything.
In 1973 there was a global oil crisis. The OPEC nations instituted an oil embargo, and supplies were low in the United States. Gasoline was rationed, and there were long lines and higher prices. The public’s demand for economical cars increased as the price of gasoline kept increasing.The state of affairs was certainly not conducive to success if you were stubbornly committed to gas guzzlers. Chrysler ultimately decided that it was time to introduce a somewhat smaller car. They wanted to offer a personal luxury car, and they decided that the Chrysler Cordoba was the solution.
The Cordoba name was first used in 1970 for an option package available for the Chrysler Newport. The name was put on the shelf until the Cordoba was released as a model in its own right for the 1975 model year.
A Cordoba is an Argentinian coin, and the emblem that Chrysler used for the car was based on the design of that coin. Because the car had a Latin flavor, the television spokesperson for the car was the suave Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban.
If you never saw these commercials, think about the current Dos Equis commercials that feature “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Ricardo Montalban came across something like that, but he was actually a real person who would tout the “fine Corinthian leather” interior in the Chrysler Cordoba.
Chrysler had fallen on hard times during this era, with possible bankruptcy looming. The Cordoba provided the struggling company with a boost. During the initial model year of 1975 over 150,000 units were sold.
Sales were brisk for the 1976 model year as well, with a total volume of around 165,000 units leaving the showrooms.
The Cordoba’s popularity started to decline in 1978 and 1979. Though it was originally smaller than the big Chryslers, it was not especially fuel-efficient, and the government was instituting stricter standards in light of the oil situation.
A second-generation of the Cordoba was called for, and it returned in 1980 as a smaller, lighter vehicle. The buying public was not impressed, and production of the Chrysler Cordoba ceased for good in 1983.
The Cordoba is not especially collectible, but there are many people out there who can appreciate the cool factor that was there when the car first hit the market.