Crown Roof Classic: John Miller’s 1977 Chrysler Cordoba

When the Chrysler Cordoba was introduced for the 1975 model year, it was showcased by the brand as an upscale personal luxury car, competing with the likes of the Oldsmobile Cutlass, Buick Regal, and Mercury Cougar. The Cordoba was originally intended to be an all new Plymouth Sebring which was to share bodies with the Dodge Charger SE. However, a decision was later made to introduce the car as the first ‘small Chrysler’.

The smaller Cordoba was introduced as a contender in the personal luxury market that was powered by smaller, more fuel-efficient engines compared to the larger land-yacht sized vehicles offered by Chrysler at the time. At a time when Chrysler was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, the Cordoba proved to be a hit with demand for Cordobas actually exceeding available supply for its first couple of years; with production of over 150,000 units for 1975 model. In fact, half of Chrysler’s production during this time was dedicated to building Cordobas.

These days, you don’t see many Cordobas running around anymore. Many led rough and short lives and eventually met the crusher. Today, they unfortunately aren’t viewed the same as Mopar’s highly desired A, B and E-bodies and therefore only a select number of enthusiasts choose to restore them. For John Miller of New Jersey, he can proudly say he is a Cordoba enthusiast as his garage houses an absolutely beautiful 1977 survivor example.

John tells us, “My car was purchased brand new by Mr. and Mrs. James and Patricia Grabs in July of 1977 from Harold Motors, Inc. located in Olympia Fields, Illinois. They drove and enjoyed the car, although sparingly. It seems Mr. Grabs had a love for the car and didn’t want to see it get ruined with daily usage. About a year into ownership, Mr. Grabs told his wife that he thought the car was special so they wouldn’t be driving it much”; and it wasn’t after that.

Mr. Grabs had the intention of taking the Cordoba to car shows and enjoying it like many of us do with our beloved Mopars.” Unfortunately, he never really got to enjoy the car in that manner as he sadly passed away approximately twenty or so years ago. After he passed, the car was given to his daughter Diane where her and her husband occasionally took the car out for a drive, but for the most part it sat in the garage, leading the same pampered life as it had since new.

Fast forward to 2016, Diane and her family (including her mom) decided to move to Arizona and sadly sell the car due to the uncertainty of proper storage for it going forwards. According to what John was told, half of the family wanted her to sell the car and the other half begged her to keep it. She decided to go ahead with selling it and this is where John came into the picture. “It first came up for sale in the early part of 2016. I found it listed on Craigslist and immediately fell in love with it. However, I had a car that I didn’t really want to sell at that time and did not have a garage spot to put it in if I decided to purchase it so I had to pass on it,” says John.

He continues to tell us, “In June 2016, I decided I needed a change so I sold my 1965 Dodge Monaco to make room for a new adventure. My search began in earnest but trying to find a nice car at a decent price was seemingly becoming impossible. While searching Craigslist one night, the Cordoba popped up again for sale but this time at a lower asking price than before; it was almost like it was meant to be! The next day, I immediately contacted the seller and discussed the car.

Within a few days, a price was agreed upon and I made arrangements to have the car inspected before fully pulling the trigger. A friend of mine named Bill went to look the car over to make sure it was as stated. Luckily, he was a retired Chrysler mechanic who had worked on these cars when they were new so he knew exactly what to look for. After his inspection, he called me and said “buy this car now or I will!” The deal was made at that moment and the car arrived at my house on September 29th, 2016.”

John tells us that when he took possession of the Cordoba, the odometer showed 11,272 original miles; wow! “A great majority of the miles were put on within the first year or two of the Grabs’ ownership. As I am writing this to you, the car now has 12,403 original miles”, shares John. In 1977, Chrysler built 163,138 Cordobas but only 3,672 were optioned with T-tops like John’s. The Cordoba’s base price was $5,418 however this particular car left the lot at $9,121.25; what a difference!

Besides the T-tops, the car was ordered with bucket seats, center console, chrome styled road wheels, leather covered steering wheel, AM/FM stereo with 8-track player, power deck lid release, power windows, power locks, power driver’s seat, rear window defogger, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, dual sport (painted) remote mirrors, deck lid tape stripe, leather seats, deluxe 3-speed windshield wipers, light package, undercoating, air conditioning ,tinted glass, trunk dress up kit, protective door rub strips, electronic clock and the 400 4bbl with the “Lean Burn” electronic ignition system under the hood. To make things even better, John’s Cordoba is optioned with the rare Crown Roof Package, which consists of special opera styled windows, an elk grain vinyl top, special pin-striping and an over the roof illuminated light bar.

John says, “From what I have learned, the Crown Roof Package was ordered on only about 5% of Cordoba production, making this 1 of approximately 184 with the Crown Roof and T-tops! Although it’s not perfect, the Starlight Blue Sunfire Metallic paint is all original and still shines quite nicely. Besides the tires, battery, spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter (the car still had the original one when I purchased it) and heater core (it leaked due to non-use I’d assume so it was replaced with a N.O.S piece), everything else on the car is as it left the assembly line; that includes all of the hoses, belts and even the brakes! The car was displayed in the Chryslers at Carlisle Survivor tent this past year and was driven round trip; 420 miles!”

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Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

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