(first posted 4/23/2013) While we have already done the first-gen Cordoba story here on CC, both the original and the facelifted ’78, today I want to tell you a little bit about a rare ‘Doba from 1979. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: the 300. In the middle of Chrysler’s 1978-79 meltdown, somehow, they managed to get this special edition out the door.
While the all-show-no-go “performance” packages were all the rage in the mid- to late-’70s, the 300 went beyond mere tape decals. Offered only in Spinnaker White, 300s came with a special cross-hair grille, 300 emblems on the grille, wheel centers, taillights and door panels. In addition, a 300 logo was etched into the opera window.
Rounding out the exterior changes were special alloy wheels, RWL Goodyear tires, color-keyed bumper rub strips, fake fender vents (not a recent affectation, apparently), sport mirrors and red, white and blue pinstriping. All in all it was a rather attractive package–not half as gaudy as your usual Herb Tarlek Edition Cordoba.
All 300s received a 195-horse version of the 360 CID V8, powered by Mopar’s storied Torqueflite, natch. Just a bit more than 3,800 were built, and though a similar treatment was offered on the redesigned, downsized 1980 Cordoba, it was not called a 300 but instead a Cordoba LS.
Interestingly, this primo 300 shot by our own Richard Bennett has the landau roof, despite the brochure stating that no vinyl roofs were available with the 300 package. Did someone strong-arm their C-P dealer, or did this car originally belong to a Chrysler Corp. big shot? It was found in Michigan…
No column shifts were allowed–all 3,811 300s got bucket seats with a passenger recliner and console-mounted shifter. The sport wheel looks much more appropriate here than the usual two-spoke Cordoba wheel.
This one seems to have been customized a bit, judging from its non-stock hood ornament (original cars had no hood ornament, only a “300” grille medallion) and a rear deck spoiler. Yes, a spoiler. I understand that this was the sporty version of the Cordoba, but a spoiler may be a bridge too far!
Anyway, this one is currently for sale, so if you have a jones for a sporty Corinthian-leather upholstered personal luxury coupe, look no further; but better hurry!
I grew up in Windsor, Ontario where these were built. The fathers of some of my friends worked at Chrysler on the line where these were built. We were oblivious to the problems that faced Chrysler at this time.
No matter what, people were proud to be part of the assembly of vehicles like this.
It was nice that they acknowledged the “300” lineage during these times.
I saw a number of examples of this car while I was living in Windsor.
@ FM, I was born in Windsor, but moved away in 1959, at 6 yrs old. My Gramps worked at Dominion Forge, which made crankshafts for cars! It was a very tough job as it was VERY HOT, forging molten steel into car parts! The last time I saw him, was thru a chain-link fence at his work in 1965! He died a few years later after he retired! I remember driving by Chrysler in Windsor with my grandparents. There was a huge green lawn in front of the big CHRYLSER sign in front of the red brick building. Sorry, I don’t remember much more, bc I was 12 the last time in Windsor, and I’m now 69.
Yes definatly a bridge too far.
It’s ‘definitely’. And that spoiler wasn’t factory, either. I know someone locally (in NC) who had and may still have one of these, covered up in a garage.
As well as exhaust outlets too far.
YES SW! Unsightly extensions on exhaust pipes is NOT cool is it? Of course the “fine Corinthian leather” inside was attractive to those who didn’t know better.
They keep the exhaust from dirtying and then rusting the bumper.
OK, thanx for that Ralph! It does detract from the good looks of the car IMO.
I guess today is the day for cars I fell in love with despite good sense telling me not to. This is probably my very favorite Cordoba version. I remember when these came out, and I thought they were absolutely fabulous. I still like it now. At the time, I saw them very rarely, but they were around.
As for the vinyl top, I would guess that Chrysler would do whatever they had to to sell a car in 1979. I would prefer mine without, however. Great find. I think that there was one of these for sale on my local CL awhile back.
Richard (Bennett), where did you find this one? I’d like to know (due to curiosity).
Phone number looks like western Wayne County or Ann Arbor.
@ 83, there was a time when I could trace a location with the phone # but since cell phones arrived, that changed.
I found this car back in September sitting on Clark Road, just east of Prospect in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It sat there for a while yet after I took the pics. I don’t know if it has sold, because it was undoubtedly garage kept. If it’s back there when I return in a few weeks I can let you all know.
I like it. How much?
Nice find. Looks to have been well maintained. Those aluminum wheels were specific to the 300 model as well.
These wheels were available as an option all the large Chryslers. Either with the roulette style ring or without. The 300 exclusive was the identifying sticker in the cap.
With the other non-stock accessories (like the spoiler and hood ornament), my first inclination is a modified ‘tribute’ car from a white, non-300 Cordoba, but there are too many other 300-only touches (those etched windows would be hard to duplicate).
Chrysler had been known to do a lot of stuff not listed in the brochures in years past, but it seems they quit all that by the heavily federally regulated seventies. And by that time, dealers had gotten quite good at adding stock appearing vinyl roofs to just about anything.
Take away the spoiler and trim back the tailpipes about 4 in and I like all of it.
My Dad’s cousin Bruce (“Benroth’s Body Shop, Cairo, OH”) had one of these brought in by a customer for restoration. It was about 1999 or so when the car was there. The gentleman who brought it in was going for a total stock look though 0 modifications.
The original Chrysler Canada sales bulletin (see link) on the 300 from late 1978 indicates that these were also available in “Chianti Red”. There are a few pictures scattered around the web.
I thought that there were also a few red ones, but I couldn’t find that info in a quick google search this morning.
According to that, there was also a watered-down version that looked like this, but with a 318.
Awesome find! Normally, I’m a vinyl top kinda guy, but I’d rather have my “300” with a steel top. Also, the spoiler is definitely not doing the car any favors, and the exhaust is sticking out a bit too much for my tastes. However, this car is in great shape, and is a great find. Must confuse nearly all the people who see it!
Get rid of the spoiler, side rub strips, hood ornament and tail pipes and I’d like it. Even with the vinyl roof and opera windows. Without the vinyl roof, it’d look terrific.
I was really excited when I spotted this car back in September. I was planning to do something with it, but with all that is on my plate at the moment, I asked Tom to take the lead, and he (as always) did a wonderful job!
I could be forced to take it . . . 🙂
I was a 300 Club member when these came out, and it was interesting to hear other members’ commentary for or against these cars, ranging from “These things are fakes!” to one guy immediately buying one at full price.
I still had my 300L at the time, and thought that these B-body cars were pretty far from the original 300 idea and a lot more like the THREE-HUNDRED….
I also was a Chrysler 300 Club member when these came out. My first car was a 9-year old, 1963 Chrysler THREE-HUNDRED 2-door (non-letter car for those who don’t get the distinction), and my second was a rather pristine 1964 300-K. When these 1979 300s came out, I went to check them out at the dealer. I kinda liked them. And, was tempted to buy one, being single and with a decent job (USAF). When the redesigned and downsized Cordoba came out the following year, I immediately realized that the Cordoba LS could have been badged as a “300” again. So, while I still like this 1979 300, to this day would rather have a white with red interior 1980 Cordoba LS.
Also, have also actually seen one of the non-white, maroon red 1979 300s. Although I don’t recall the production figures, am pretty sure it was less than 10.
Tom, that’s a strange cow lick you’re sporting in the first picture.
Ha! Actually it’s me, in the pics…
I found one of these at a car auction last year. Pristine. No vinyl roof.
They never came with a vinyl roof.
Taking off the spoiler is easy, fixing the holes not so much.
I believe that this was my fathers car. He would have been the original owner. He added a spoiler just like that and I believe the lights that are located between the door glass and the opera window. The hood orinment also looks like something he would do. The exhaust would have been done after he sold it. I am interested to find out if it was his. We lived in Saline,MI when he sold it.
Hi Marc, it’s entirely possible that this is the same car. I took these pictures of it in Ypsilanti last September. I haven’t seen the car this year so I would imagine that it has been sold by now.
If it is, it is nice to see that someone took such good care of it. He was big on taking care of his cars. The first this he would do with a new car was take it by Ziebart to get undercoated. You never saw rust on our vehicles like a lot of others in Michigan.
I don’t remember for sure on the hood ornament, but he always made sure to have the Chrysler keys that came with the cut crystal or glass in them, so I would not doubt he had the hood ornament done.
I was a kid at the time and it would have been the first car I remember him having.
I still remember how the gear indicator would change colors depending on what gear you were in. I also remember a time when I got on it and the carburetor return spring broke. He quickly shifted to neutral, shut it off and got it to the side of the road. That is the reason I always make sure to have dual return springs. A friends Dart that just left my garage yesterday had a single spring on it. I made sure it had a dual setup before he left.
The car would have most likely have been bought from Don L. Naylor and Sons Chrysler dealership since that is the only dealer I remember going to. I think he also bought his Challenger T/A there. I think the T/A belonged to one of the dealers sons.
Funny the stuff you remember from your childhood. My age would have been in the single digits at the time. He is the reason I am into cars now.
Very cool and underrated cars, these 300’s. The Cordoba may have gone a bit over the top with the luxury end of “personal luxury” but the 300 kept more of the sporting attitude. Too bad you couldn’t get it with the 400, but I imagine the 360 would probably wake up nicely if some of its arcane late 70’s emissions equipment were replaced with more modern hardware.
Marc, it’s funny the things we remember from cars of our childhood. My family had a pair of ’79 models when i was a kid, a Fairmont and a Malibu. We sold the Farmont in 1988 when I was all of 7 years old, but I still have plenty of memories of that one, especially how one’s legs would stick to the black vinyl upholstery in the summer (who thought that was a good idea?) Also the fact that Mom hated driving it since it wasn’t a V8 like she was used to. The Malibu? Many more memories, as that one stayed with us. It’s been mine since ’96 and, while not currently running, awaits eventual restoration.
I currently have 2 of these special cars, 1 fairly heavily modified, 1 pert near stock… I love them!
Do you still have them? I have one also. All original.
I have a vinyl roof version of this 300 and would love help researching it. I’d like to no the production numbers, how many were made with a vinyl roof? What number off the line was my car etc. Any help is greatly appreciated!
I would suggest you look up the website allpar.com. They are a very thorough Chrysler community, and would most likely be able to point you in the right direction!
The 1979 Chrysler 300 never came with a vinyl roof. Cordobas had optional vinyl roof.
Hello from Tennessee. I’ve got an original ’79 300 with the moon roof. Very nice car, 33,000 miles and looks it. I have the window sticker; it was sold new in Iowa.
There are currently 3 of these cars for sale locally on Craigslist. All would be considered projects.
My car is a great cruiser. The air’s cold, so I mostly drive it in the summer.
I can’t believe how much interest there still is for a fairly rare car.
I’ll be glad when these 300’s are fully accepted by ye 300 crowd.
Bill in Halls Crossroads
Hey Bill, still have it?
Hi guys my father worked at Chryslers in the 70’s and had one built for himself, he was lucky enough to follow it down the line and had all the god dies installed. He has pics of the vehicle being assembled and all documentation he is very proud of his 300. By the way it has never seen rain or snow it’s been garaged for over 30 years and is MINT. All original very very low miles about 12,000. He’s never entered it in any show but I know for a fact it’s the best 300 anywhere you look guaranteed!!!!!. With his failing health he has decided to sell so if you are interested contact me. I’m his son and also work at Chrysler in Windsor. Arhousing@live.com
Hello Tony. I have a Chrysler 300 and actually went to Windsor recently to visit friends. My buddy rode with me and we drove right by the Chrysler plant. How awesome! I drove it from Kentucky and back with no trouble.
I owned one 1980 too 1989. Out of spfld mo. Love to talk.
Hey Mike I just came here and saw your comment. I have mine up for sale now.
Just found this beast in New York City . 15,000 miles ,all original except BUILT motor & drivetrain.
Owned one 1980 to 89. Very interested. Please reach out. Dtrainwrecked@gmail.com. Mike durr
Are you still interested . I may sell mine . Larry B. Chester IL. firstname.lastname@example.org
That sounds nice, as I imagine the original engine had trouble getting this car out of it’s own way.
just picked this 79 300 up about a mouth ago. found it on chevy car lot .love this car ive had a lot or mopars over the years still have a 38 ply
I have mine up for sale if anyone is interested. It has 107,xxx miles now but runs great.
I believe that these Cordoba 300’s were built from April 1979 until the Windsor Plant code 9103 build out in June of 1979. The plant actual build out date was July 1979 but the plant wanted to build out these 300’s early to try to reduce the complexity of the build out since these were the last of this body style and for 1980 a Totally new Cordoba and Dodge Mirada would be built at Windsor. I should know as i was at Group Production Control and Supervisor of Group 7 dealing with the Production Control Follow up people at Windsor Assembly Plant. Those were the Good Old Days and as much fun as build out was , New Model start up was even more challenging!!!!!!!
So awesome to hear from someone with a personal connection! Must be fulfilling to know that even though there aren’t many left, something you helped make is still in existence.
I like this better than the regular Cordoba .
Plus it’s white with red upholstery ! .