- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2010

Like anyone else in the market for a Chrysler Cordoba in 1983, Norman and Lillian Lee of Oxnard, Calif., could have purchased a plain model that had a base price of about $9,500. Instead, with the assistance of Harbor Chrysler-Plymouth salesman Gordie Williams, they opted for a crimson red beauty loaded with most of the available bells and whistles.

Before they drove the flashy Chrysler out of the Ventura, Calif., dealership on Sept. 8, 1983, they had paid a total of $14,450 for the car.

A couple of years later the couple traded in their well- maintained car for a new model.

About this time, young Neal Herman was a student at California State Polytechnic. He drove a 1977 Chrysler Cordoba until it was totaled.

Mr. Herman was shopping for a car when he saw the recently traded red Cordoba. With a loan from the First National Bank of Dad he purchased the Chrysler on Jan. 27, 1985. It had been driven 24,116 miles but everything in or on the car was in splendid condition.

The 318-cubic-inch, V-8 engine is fed fuel via a two-barrel carburetor and develops 130 horsepower. That power is delivered to the rear drive wheels through a three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission. Mr. Herman reports gas mileage of about 19.5 mpg on the highway.

Besides being an attractive design, it’s a practical one as well. “It’s easy to park,” Mr. Herman says. “You can see every corner from the driver’s seat.”

The leather covering the front bucket seats is in fine condition today because as soon as he took possession of the car, Mr. Herman installed protective sheep skin seat covers. Soon thereafter, a power glass sunroof was installed, correcting an oversight by the original owners.

On it’s 112.7-inch wheelbase, Mr. Herman in January 1988 moved to Virginia and drove his Chrysler all the way. The odometer rolled over 80,000 miles as he drove through Palm Springs.

Almost four years later, in September 1991, Mr. Herman was driving his Chrysler in London, Ontario when he noticed the odometer was about to roll over 100,000 miles. “I was so excited that I called friends to tell them,” he said.

In 1995 Mr. Herman drove his trusty Cordoba to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

The transmission received attention at 153,000 miles. By then the paint was wearing thin.

Mr. Herman had his car repainted in the original crimson red. The vinyl top was replaced at the same time.

The original window sticker came with the car indicating that the Chrysler was built in Winsor, Ontario on March 18, 1983 and that extra cost options include:

- Leather bucket seats $529

- AM/FM cassette radio $293

- Premier speakers $126

- Aluminum wheels $107

- Console $75

- California emissions $75

- Power antenna $60

- Rear sway bar $36

“I drove it regularly until 2003,” Mr. Herman says. “It had 162,000 miles then,” he says.

There is nothing on the car Mr. Herman doesn’t like, from the ten-spoke wheels to the external opera lights to the two-spoke tilt steering wheel and even the distinctive rectangular headlights.

Mr. Herman says his now antique car has no difficulty in keeping up with modern traffic. When in that traffic, he is grateful his car is equipped with two exterior remote control mirrors. Above the front seat passenger is a lighted vanity mirror on the back side of the visor. At the passenger’s feet, on the kick panel under the red dashboard, is a built in litter box.

After owning the car all those years Mr. Herman says his car is like a member of the family. As such he thinks his car, after 164,000 miles, deserves to be semi-retired. “It’s always been a reliable car,” he says.

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