I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a 1980 Cordoba—can that be true?
“A singular tradition.”
Chrysler’s Cordoba personal luxury was heavily revised for 1980, moving from the first-generation’s somewhat baroque styling to a more angular design. There was also a change in platform, with the Cordoba now based on the 1979 LeBaron coupe.
For the first time, the Cordoba’s base engine was a six—a 90 bhp 3.7 liter/225 ci version of the famous inline Slant Six with a one-barrel carburetor. Power options included a 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with either a two-barrel carburetor (120 bhp/$230) or a four-barrel carburetor (155 bhp/$291) and a 185 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor (which required the $192 Sport Handling package option package and less than 100 buyers paid $545 for). The 5.2 liter with the four-barrel carburetor was California and high altitude only. Chrysler paired all engines with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission.
With the Slant Six, the Cordoba was brutally slow even by 1980 standards—0-60 was likely in the 18 second range with a top speed of 90 mph. Performance was notably better with the two 5.2 liter V8s and might even be described as spritely with the rare 5.9 liter engine. None of the powerplants yielded good fuel economy as they dragged around a 3,300-pound plus car with a three-speed automatic. The best was the Slant Six, rated at 17 mpg city, with the 5.9 liter getting a mere 13 mpg. With an 18-gallon fuel tank, Cordoba buyers could expect a range of between 210 and 275 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
The 1980 Cordoba’s base price was $6,978—about $24,100 in 2020 dollars, or about $4,000 less than a base 2020 Dodge Challenger coupe (close to the same size and still rear-wheel-drive) goes for. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the Cordoba included tinted glass, power steering, power front disk/rear drum brakes, and P195/75R15 white sidewall tires on 15-inch wheels with Deluxe wheel covers. Inside, a heater and defroster, coat hooks, a cigarette lighter, and an AM radio were included. Standard upholstery was a cloth-and-vinyl split-back bench seat with a folding center armrest.
For a little less money than the standard Cordoba, Chrysler offered the LS ($6,745). It deleted the sill molding and carpeted trunk and changed the tires to black sidewall. The LS was upholstered with a cloth-and-vinyl bench seat.
Heading upmarket, the $7,248 Cordoba Crown added a padded Landau vinyl roof and Premier wheel covers. Inside, the Crown was upholstered with cloth-and-vinyl 60/40 seats with a folding center armrest and a passenger-side seatback recliner.
Only available for the Cordoba Crown, the $1,818 Corinthian Edition package included chrome remote side mirrors and P205/75R15 “wider” whitewall tires on 15-inch wheels with wire wheel covers. A choice of two colors was available—Black Walnut Metallic or a Designer’s Cream over Designer’s Beige paint treatment. Inside, deep cut-pile carpeting and a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel were included. Of course, the package included leather/vinyl 60/40 seats and Corinthian Edition identification.
Options and Production Numbers
Individual exterior and mechanical options included an electric glass sunroof ($787) and forged aluminum road wheels ($334). Inside, air conditioning ($623), automatic speed control ($116), power windows ($148), and power door locks ($96) were available. The top-of-the-line radio was an AM/FM stereo with a CB transceiver and four speakers ($383), though the Cordoba’s brochure hyped the new $240 AM/FM stereo with cassette player and Dolby noise reduction. A final option was an extra cost 5/50 protection plan.
Cordoba sales dropped by about 37% to 46,406 in 1980, but I’m not willing to blame this entirely on the new design—very little was going right for the Chrysler division in 1980. The Cordoba’s percentage of overall Chrysler division sales actually increased in 1980—but Oldsmobile sold four times as many Cutlass Supreme coupes. Chrysler continued to make the Cordoba through the 1983 model year, with sales dropping each year. Its putative replacement for 1984 was the far different front-wheel-drive Laser XE hatchback coupe.
The View From 2020
Hagerty does not track values for any Cordoba, but they do show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, Hemmings lists a Charcoal Gray Metallic 1983 with red cloth bucket seats and 44,000 miles for sale, asking $9,000.
Make mine Crimson Red Metallic, please.