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1983 Cordoba

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.0

Reviewed by 4 users

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Reviews written: 8
View all reviews by vwcanuck75

1981 Cordoba LS pimpmobile

by vwcanuck75:      Aug 10, 2004

Product Rating: 4.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: reliability, quality of ride, inexpensive to repair, relatively good gas mileage
Cons: None that a few factory options wouldn't have fixed
The Bottom Line: Fantastic car. Almost bullet proof. Not everyone's car for looks but you can always rely on it. Good gas mileage even for an underpowered 6-cylinder in a heavy car.

This is one of the best cars I have ever owned/own.

Bought in the spring/summer of 1992, it had 162,000 (100,000 mi)on the odo. silver grey metallic paint with burgundy red interior. Not the plush velour or fine Corinthian Leather but still pretty nice.


As I said, silver grey metallic, slightly oxidized, red pin striping, egg crate grill with the round LS symbol in the centre. The badges on the sides and the centre logo were the Chrysler 300 Red White and Blue. The LS was supposed to be the new 300 for the 80's but it never happened. Anyone see the 1979 Chrylser 300 that was really a Cordoba? Only 5000 made. Instead they came up with the "LS" Rims were the standard steel with pretty good Sears rubber around them. The hub caps were off a 70's Mercury and I ditched them PDQ. I had only one exterior mirror on the left side. I was soon to find out why the car was bare of options.


The previous owner decided that for the $1000 the car sold for, she was going to strip out the rear 6x9 speakers and radio. This was terrible for me as I like my tunes and I was 16 at the time with no means of real income to buy a new stereo. Dad was unaffected though. I had bucket seats, no cruise, not tilt, no air, no passenger side mirror, no radio, but it did have a pretty cool factory sport steering wheel and back seat reading lights. I liked the reading lights even if they did me absolutely no good as the driver. The reason the car was so basic was because it was an LS. This meant "Luxury Sport" but was the most basic Cordoba you could buy for 1981. The previous owners grandparents had purchased it new, only added 2 options, the steering wheel and bucket seats and drove it till they gave it to her.


Hold on!! This Cordoba LS was equipped with the Famous 225 Slant Six dubbed "Super Six" on the air cleaner housing. Hmm. Super it was not. This was paired with a 3 speed automatic transmission which, as the months wore on, shuddered while shifting into 3rd gear while going uphill. Because Dad's specs of the first car I could have was "Old, high mileage and big" the Cordoba fit the bill in his mind perfectly. I was praying for at least a 318 V8 but no luck. Later I would be reasonably thankful for the Slant 6.

The Purchase:

Ahh the memories. I was 16, no wheels but my parents were willing to buy me a car and insure it for me with the above rules and that I kept my grades up. I really couldn't complain of course as I couldn't afford insurance or the car without a job. I stumbled across the Cordoba about a block and a half from home while I walked to school one morning. It seemed to fit the description and I liked the look of it. Since my dreams of an early 70's 'Cuda, Challenger, Charger, 442 or 80's Olds Cutlass Supreme 442 were horribly dashed, the Cordoba was a good fit.
We contacted the girl selling it. Took it for a drive, noticed that it shifted a little hard but otherwise it was really good. Dad and I took it to a friend's shop to have it worked over, compression tested etc. They gave it glowing reviews. One of the mechanics there had one as well and raved about the car and how good they were.
We came back and started to deal. The first thing out of the seller's mouth was, "I'm asking $1200 but I will take $1000" Dad offered the $1000 and she seemed upset that we didnt give her $1200 or at least $1100. Oh well. It was a deal and we drove it home.

Driving History:

The car sat for a few months while it took a driving course and obtained a proper licence. Once that was complete, I had a car...with restrictions. My grades drop, the car disappears, I get any ticket, the car disappears. The car breaks down, I pay to fix it and perform the work myself to save $$$. The car needs gas, I pay for it. The first two, tough but fair, the last two I fully expected.

I manage to get my licence by October of 1992 and start driving. I drive rarely but I still get to drive. I can't drive to school but I can on weekends and to friend's places on the weekends. I am insured as an "occasional" driver so driving to school everyday would be more expensive insurance wise.

I am taking Auto Shop courses because I love cars and I want to know how to fix mine. For the first little while I do Mickey Mouse things, check the brakes, oil changes, battery terminal cleaning, rotating tires etc. As I start to learn new things, I get feel I can be more adventurous when the time comes. It came soon.

The car would start and drive great, then the battery would be dead. I bought a new battery as it tested bad. Still the problem persisted. I traced the problem to the voltage regulator on the firewall. I head to the auto wrecker to save money and cannot find a voltage regulator that would fit. I had to break down and buy a new one for $11.

Over the next few years I did routine repairs and maintenance. Oil changes, coolant flushes and the like. Like alot of Chryslers, once it got wet outside, the car would miss and backfire. That was fixed quickly with silicone and a new distributor cap. The first major repair I had to have done was to fix the shudder as the car shifted into 3rd gear. My Dad taught at a local Technical Institute so he took it to work with him and had the auto techs inspect the tranny. Turns out all it needed was a band tightened and new fluid. $50 later that was done. The carb started to give trouble and I replaced it with a rebuild single barrel for $75.

The next major repair was the water pump. It started to squeel and leak so I repaired that, cost $35. I drove the car for another few years doing minor repairs, new drive belts and the like, new plugs and plug leads. I replaced teh front shocks and brake pads and turned the rotors. Cost for that was $100. By 1997 I had to replace the carb again with a rebuilt single barrel carb for a grand total of $75. I was planning a major trip that summer so I had my brother repair alot of problems that I was experiencing. I would fill the gas tank and if I was on slant to the right, overnight I would get a small puddle of gas. I wasnt sure if it was a seal or otherwise. Shortly after that, my gas guage sender quite and also some of my dash lights. The car would run hot and overheat if in traffic. I replaced the coolant and thermostat but that did not fix the problem. I wheeled the car in to my brother who replaced the rad as it was 90% blocked. He added new rad hoses and removed the gas tank. Upon inspection, the top of the gas tank was like swiss cheese. Full of rust. I ordered a new tank and gas tank sender and 3 cans of spray undercoat for the gas tank. I bought new rear brake shoes, turned the drums and installed them. We put the car back together and then took it to a muffler shop to have the muffler and tailpipe replaced. After that it was off to a friend's for bodywork. The left rear quarter panel had rusted through in the trunk. I had a bad body weld that let water into the trunk. I had other spots of rust repaired and a trim piece off the front bumper that was hanging off. Total repairs for mehanical work $750, muffler and tailpipe $125, bodywork $350.
I got through my 5000km (3000mile) trip with no problems.

By 1999 the engine was losing its rear main engine seal. I was in need of a third carb and was losing about 1 litre of oil out of the engine every 3 days. I had a new job that required alot of driving. As the fuel allowance was small, and the car drank alot, I had to find a smaller, fuel efficient car that was reliable. I bought a 1983 VW Jetta GL 2-door. See other review. I parked my Cordoba after 8 years and over 120,000km of faithful service. I loved and still love the car. I intend to restore the car one day as it needs only some bodywork, new paint and a rebuilt engine. The interior needs some work but it is still 75%.

I estimate I spent about $1700 in routine maintainance and repairs over the years.
Amount Paid (US$): 1000
Condition: Used
Model Year: 1981
Model and Options: Chrysler Cordoba LS
Product Rating: 4.0
Recommended: Yes 
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