“Soft Corinthian Leather” — an advertising phrase so famous that people who were not yet born when the advertisement was on TV know it and can attribute it to the car and the actor. Ricardo Montalban’s elegant accent made the Chrysler Cordoba (mispronounced cor-DOH!-ba instead of COR-do-ba) and its soft Corinthian leather into household names, permanently linked together. What happens when an example of this Chrysler Greatest Hit is sin cuero corintio, though? Is it a Deadly Sin? Let’s take a look at one and decide.
This 1977 Cordoba brochure shows the Cordoba interior that we all know and love, upholstered in “genuine Corinthian leather,” as if such a thing can genuinely be said to exist. “A magnificent option” it was, but in our memories, it was a Cordoba standard feature.
Houndstooth cloth in a Cordoba? Indeed, it covers the two front and two rear passenger locations in this well preserved Cordoba, with decorative simulated straps for each. Is this heresy, deserving of the Spanish Inquisition? The Dominicans who carried out part of the Spanish Inquisition were named “Dogs of the Lord” (Domini canes), so calling them in to investigate an apparent sin involving houndstooth would be appropriate in multiple ways. Perhaps they could flog this Cordoba’s owner with the simulated straps.
The houndstooth pattern actually looks quite sharp and very nicely integrates the exterior/dashboard/carpet and interior colors of this car, so visually at least, it is a treat.
The same 1977 Cordoba brochure shows that the houndstooth cloth was part of a mid-tier interior option that you were encouraged, with flowery language, to pass over in favor of Corinthian leather. The standard seat was a split bench with “Verdi velour” cloth and vinyl. With a 60/40 split bench with reclining seatbacks, you could choose either Verdi velour or “Checkmate cloth with vinyl accents.” “The incredible richness of optional Corinthian leather bucket seats” was the peak seating option, complemented by “an optional hand-stitched Corinthian leather-covered rim Tilt Steering Wheel. Marvelous.”
In my opinion, however, if you chose the Checkmate option, you would really deserve the famous words of another Latin American star, played by Billy Crystal: “You look marvelous!” With the bucket seats quite flat and un-bucket-like, with an unnecessary center console between them, the reclining bench seat and houndstooth upholstery pattern offered a better combination of comfort and style than the Corinthian leather bucket seats, in my opinion. The vinyl on the center armrest and the headrests would not put a luxurious material against your skin, but as Fernando said, “It is better to look good than to feel good.”
Even if you saved a few doubloons by ordering Checkmate cloth instead of Corinthian leather, your Cordoba would have a full complement of doubloons on the outside. So if a Cordoba being sin Corinthian leather is a sin, you might be able to buy an indulgence from the church to get you off the hook.
It is no sin for this Chrysler Cordoba to be sin Corinthian leather, then; this car’s outstanding condition, together with the lesser-known but interesting interior, make it a fine example of Chrysler’s hit “small” luxury coupe of the 1970s. To make a last groan-worthy Latin American TV star quip, it could, in my opinion, be The Most Interesting Cordoba In The World. Any Cordoba fan should be proud to own it, as long as he or she can laugh along with the many people who would ask, repeating Ricardo Montalban’s own words in an ESPN commercial for Formula 1, “But where is the rrrrrrrich Corinthian leather?”