See Ricardo Montalban pitching Chrysler Cordoba – the car with ‘soft Corinthian leather’

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See Ricardo Montalban pitching Chrysler Cordoba - the car with 'soft Corinthian leather'

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

For years, Chrysler maintained that they would never sell a smaller car — every Chrysler ever produced had been a full-size car. The 1973 oil crisis — and flagging sales — changed the automaker’s mind.

In 1975, they released the Cordoba, with more economical engines, and a wheelbase 9 full inches shorter than anything else in the Chrysler lineup. This new entrant into the “personal luxury” auto segment was an instant hit — for the first couple of years, demand outpaced the carmaker’s ability to manufacture them, and they sold over 150,000 in the first year alone.

No doubt helping the sales of the new model were the famous television ads featuring the great Ricardo Montalban, extolling the virtues of the Cordoba’s luxurious interior, including the now-famous “soft Corinthian leather.” (Amusingly, while the leather became quite the trademark of the Cordoba, it’s origins were much less exotic than the Greek city of Corinth — apparently most of it came from a supplier just outside Newark, New Jersey.)

While the Cordoba was only sold for nine model years, with production ending in 1983 after an unpopular redesign in 1980, it remains an American pop culture icon — all thanks to a Mexican actor. – AJW

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba (1975)

This is Cordoba. The small Chrysler. An automobile in which you will enjoy not only great comfort … but great confidence.

It is confidence you can see, the confidence of knowing your automobile possesses a look of great dignity. It is confidence you can feel, in thickly cushioned contour-seats available in rich crushed velour or soft Corinthian leather. It is confidence you experience when you are in control of a truly roadworthy automobile. This is the confidence you will find in a most surprisingly affordable small Chrysler. Cordoba.

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba - 1975

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba, with “Soft Corinthian leather” (1975)

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba (1976)

Now available with computer-controlled Lean Burn Engine.

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba - 1976

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba (1977)


A shaft of warm, glowing light bends gracefully across a thickly padded, textured roof. This is Cordoba for 1977. Offered for the first time with the distinctive new Crown roof. An elegant option for an already remarkably satisfying car.

A car that from inception has satisfied one’s aesthetic sense with its purity of design and finely crafted interiors. Interiors offered even in fine Corinthian leather. A car that satisfies one’s pragmatic sense by its surprising affordability and the ingenious Lean Burn Engine, controlled by a small computer, it fires with uncanny precision to run smoothly and responsively.

1977 Cordoba. Few things in life achieve its rare combination of great beauty and uncommon good sense.  And few things will satisfy so much.

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba - 1976 1977

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba (1977)


Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba - 1977

Fantasy Island: Find out about this vintage TV show, and see the famous opening credits (1977-1984)

Ricardo Montalban for Cordoba (1980)

See classic Ford LTD and LTD II cars from the late 1970s: Models for '77, '78 & '79

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