More Weird and Wonky American Cars Oct 14, 2016 by Ian (Driver Weekly)
Our readers loved "Weird and Wonky American Cars," and thanks to your insightful comments we've found twenty more strange cars with even stranger stories: from luxury pickups to the finest leather, corporate squabbles to cartoon ducks.
1975 Chrysler Cordoba
Who can forget the soft Corinthian leather of the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba? This personal luxury coupe is renowned for its memorable advertising campaign spearheaded by the legendary actor Ricardo Montalban. Even if you weren’t even driving yet when these ads first hit the airwaves, you might have heard your parents laughing about the “fine Corinthian leather” (as it was often misquoted) that adorned the interior. If you haven’t seen the commercial you might not appreciate the humor, but trust us, it was one memorable campaign for what, in the end, was a rather wonky car. The car bristled with facsimiles of old Spanish coins to emphasize the exotic elegance within and without. Chrysler (and Montalban) were quick to emphasize the soft leather, thick carpeting, and wooden veneers and knobs. The foreign name of the car was consistently mispronounced. While small for the time (it was Chrysler’s first attempt at a downsized personal coupe) it was still 3,700lbs with eight gas-guzzling cylinders that produced surprisingly paltry horsepower. The undeniably attractice car was popular at first, but sales declined as drivers discovered that the leather trimming couldn’t quite make up for an unusual vehicle. Finally, despite all of the attention paid to the leather, the Corinthian trimmings were an option rather than a standard feature.
2006 Chevrolet HHR
If you can detect a resemblance between the Chevrolet HHR and the similarly ill-styled PT Cruiser, you’ve spotted the work of Bryan Nesbitt. The divisive designer was hired by GM after the success of the Chrysler PT Cruiser; the result was the 2006 Chevrolet Heritage High Roof. This large station wagon was styled after the 1940s Chevrolet Suburban. The result had flared fenders, a hemispherical grille, and rounded hood and roofline. The high beltline, small windows, thick pillars, and aluminum wheels gave this station wagon a bad attitude.
While both of these retro cruisers had a certain appeal—standing out from the crowd at the very least—the infatuation has long passed. It didn’t help that the vertical windshield and thick pillars resulted in a slightly disconcerting drive for new buyers. 3,155lbs being dragged along by a 2.2L four-cylinder with only 143 horsepower resulted in marginal acceleration and a plodding pace (upgrading to the 2.4L produced slightly better results). Unlike the PT Cruiser, the heftier HHR isn’t as distinctive amongst a crowd of SUVs. This “me too” cruiser just didn’t bring the looks or the goods.
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