Wow……..who would’ve thunk it?
All these years I’ve been saying it wrong…..
I did not know that.. Though I also thought Corinthian Leather was another way of saying Naugahyde..
From Corinth Plastics, Corinth TX.
Obligatory ‘Save the Naugas’ comment.
That takes me back.
I had forgotten the melodrama…
Could be because of the SCTV parody where Eugene Levy impersonates Ricardo Montalban on Fantasy Island.
Check YouTube, it’s on there somewhere. Roarke’s fantasy is to “tie up women with rich Corinthian leather”. That was one wacky funny show.
This should be it. http://youtu.be/s4WoOClHh9g
At one point Levy even goes into a rant on the pronunciation of Cordoba.
Levy is still (and always has been) one funny mo’fo’.
The answer to Paul’s question is in a Saturday Night Live skit, “I Am Ricardo Montalban”, broadcast May 14, 1977, with Dan Aykroyd in the title role. One of “Ricardo’s” pick up lines:
“Your hair and skin is like the finest Corinthian leather…”
The full transcript here: http://snltranscripts.jt.org/76/76usoy.phtml
Often we remember the parody better than the original thing. Truthiness lives!
“I can see Russia from my House” – Tina Fey
Chrysler bombarded the airwaves with this ad and its many variations (remember “I like what they’ve done with my car” after the first downsizing?). These commercials (and the awful, warbling “Vo-la-re” commercials) were as common as Geico ads in their day.
Auto manufacturers don’t seem to spend that kind of money on network TV anymore, but it’s hard to argue Ricardo didn’t move metal with this ad.
Don’t give up. Get a Vo-La-Re!
That song was a hit in, what, 1959, 1960? Not a song you often heard on the radio by the time Plymouth’s VoLaRe came along. Kind of an oldies song, definitely not cool then.
These commercials really took on a life of their own. Even people who weren’t interested in cars knew what a Cordoba was, and “Corinthian leather” became a national catchphrase.
Both Chrysler and Montalban loved the attention – “Chrysler Cordoba” became a household name, and Montalban’s career received a major boost. If I recall correctly, these ads helped him land the Fantasy Island role.
I wonder how the ads would have went over with Caesar Romero in the staring role? I always liked his voice a little better anyway. (Although Caesar always looked in his later years as if the guy on a cigar box had come to life and escaped from the box lid.)
What I love is that Ricardo does not have Corinthian Leather in his own vehicle, he is satisfied by the availability of it despite his selection of ultra velour, perhaps that is the true measure of near luxury.
I agree completely! (about the rich / fine thing) . It irks me inside because I myself own a very beautiful chrysler cordoba, and people always tell me “How’s the rich corinthian leather?” or “how’s the fine corinthian leather?” I jokingly say “I have Californian velour”
Someone said in the youtube comments
“I wonder how many corinthians you have to skin to get enough for a seat” hhahahaha
Buy a car, GET a Check!
What is softer… the Corinthian leather or Joe Garagiola’s bald head?
Birddog wrote – “I did not know that.. Though I
also thought Corinthian Leather was another way
of saying Naugahyde.”
Actually, no, They’re two totally different materials
made from the skins of two completely different
animals. After Chrysler caused Corinths in the wilds
of their native Mongolia to be hunted nearly to
extinction, due to the success of the Cordoba and
the subsequent, huge public demand for the ‘Fine
Corinthian Leather’ seating option, a combination
of shortages, rising costs and an intensive media
campaign by environmentalists, conservationists
and animal rights activists, forced Chrysler to switch
to using the hides of the much more abundant and
cheaper, but not nearly as luxurious – and most
certainly, much less “fine” – domestic, farm-raised
Naugas instead. The good news is, that in recent
years the Corinths seem to have made a remarkable
rebound from near extinction – so much so, that
there is a now a severe over-population of them and
they are actually becoming a virulent and deadly
pest in their native Mongolia, destroying crops and
attacking people and Chrysler may, perhaps as soon
as the 2016 model year, once again be able to offer
genuine “Fine Corinthian Leather” as a seating option
on at least some of its higher-end vehicles! 🙂
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !
From our friends at Wikipedia:
“Despite the exotic origin suggested by the name “Corinthian leather”, much of the leather used in Chrysler vehicles during the era originated from a supplier located outside Newark, New Jersey.”
Mr. Montalban used the phrase “soft Corinthian leather” in the original 1975 commercial. After that he used the term “fine Corinthian leather” in an other commercial and finally in a 1980 commercial for the Chrysler Cordoba Corinthian Edition (no joke !) he was orating (with a big smile on his face !) about “rich Corinthian leather”.
Later he admitted to David Letterman that the term “Corinthian leather” meant nothing….
So Frank has the REAL answer….because he really did say all of that in commercials. Not all Chrysler Cordoba commercials have made it to YouTube…like anything else from television, a lot more has NOT made it there than has. Mere lack of evidence at YouTube means nothing.
There you have it ! “Rich Corinthian Leather” (just look at the slick smile on his face).
Thank you, Dave! I was looking for any sign of “Rich Corinthian Leather” for a long time. Thought it was like “Play it again, Sam”, where it’s not actually said, just urban legend. Turns out Mr. Montalban really did do so at least once!
Later, when discussing the Chrysler New Yorker, he refers to “rich leather”, but the 1980 Cordoba commercial indeed has the full phrase.
By the way, here is the second time he says it, as the actor describes how he got the spokesmanship job for Chrysler.
The leather (?) was soft, fine and rich (and probably the cheapest they could get !)
Classic example of the Mandela Effect
Another urban legend is that Darth Vader said “Luke, I am your father” but he only said “I am your father”. 😉
Regarding the Cordoba commercials, I couldn’t help but notice that the music is a takeoff from the music soundtrack for “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”.
First of all, the music for this ad came from the compose Joaquin Rodrigo. His piece is entitled, “Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra.” It is a stunning piece exemplary of the Spanish style of fine music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6NcN4pueMc&t=17s Please listen to it and enjoy it. I consider Corinthian Leather as Chrysler’s advertising agency’s take on Connolly leather which is featured in Rolls Royce automobiles. At the time of the introduction of the Chrysler Cordoba, I worked for Chrysler in their New York Zone Office. Dealers were encouraged to order these cars for stock with minimal equipment in order that they seem to be a bargain. Standard equipment was adequate to get them moving down the road. Options always ordered were Air Conditioning and a Radio. Other options were ordered by customer order or dealers who sold “upscale” editions. These options included items such as AM/FM Stereo Radio, cassette player, Light Package, Corinthian Leather, power windows, power seat. This is a marvelous adaptation of the Coronet/Satellite shell.
Rodrigo is brilliant! His Concierto de Aranjuez was one of the first classical records I bought.
Miles Davis’s version of Concierto de Aranjuez; sublime:
What’s amazing is that this is considered a “small” Chrysler.
The full story of the music in the Cordoba commercials…posted here at CC in 2015:
The tragic origin of the music in the Montalban Cordoba commercials isn’t well known. It is the second movement of the Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999)…the best-known, most popular guitar concerto ever. Rodrigo was a Spanish composer who was awarded Spain’s highest musical award, the Premio Nacional de Música, in 1983. In 1991, Rodrigo was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos; he became the Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez. In 1996 he received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award—Spain’s highest civilian honor.
Rodrigo never revealed during his lifetime the inspiration of that music. Only after his death did Mrs. Rodrigo tell the story…that after their first child had died he sat, grief-stricken, for hours at the piano, first playing the main melodic theme, then developing it. The composition of that music was how Rodrigo handled his deepest grief.
It all takes on a somewhat different feel when one knows about how the music came to be.
Dear G, I am enlightened. I never knew this about the music. I will always now listen to it with a touch of melancholy. Rodrigo’s grief is a lasting monument to fine music and to the memory of his child. Indeed, with your explanation, the music is mournful. Yet the mourning of Rodrigo reflects the refined nature of Spaniards. I enjoy listening to the full piece. Thanks for your explanation.
I’m gonna pat myself on the back, I’ve always though it was soft Corinthian leather. I love the self aware absurdity of calling this car the small Chrysler.
Since I think the answer is getting lost in the comments, Montalban DOES SAY “rich Corinthian leather” in a 1980 commercial. In other commercials, he variously says “soft” and “fine.” Here is the “rich” commercial once again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7ylbDGbR0Q&t=1s
That looks like cloth and vinyl to me, not Corinthian leather.
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