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Corinthian leather

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The Corinthian leather upholstery of a 1978 Chrysler New Yorker automobile.

Corinthian leather is a marketing term coined by the advertising agency Bozell in 1974 to describe the leather upholstery used in certain luxury vehicles of the Chrysler automobile company.[1] The car advertisements conceptually developed the term Corinthian leather to suggest a premium product of foreign origin denoting "something rich in quality, rare, and luxurious". The upholstery was in fact a domestic product made by the Radel Leather Manufacturing Company in Newark, New Jersey.[2]

The term Corinthian leather first was used in the advertisements for the 1974 Imperial LeBaron, yet the featuring of that leather upholstery usually is associated with the introduction of the 1975 Cordoba, a personal luxury car of intermediate size. The success of advertising the leather upholstery associated the spokesman, the actor Ricardo Montalbán, with linking the term Corinthian leather as exclusive to the Cordoba model.[3] In promoting the Cordoba car, Montalbán described a car interior that featured thickly-cushioned, luxury seats upholstered in grades of fine,[4] soft,[5] or rich Corinthian leather.[6][7][8]

When asked on Late Night with David Letterman what the term denoted, Montalbán said that Corinthian leather was a marketing term.[9][10][11] Montalbán credited commercial writer Jim Nichols for the term.[9] In promoting the Chrysler New Yorker in 1988, Montalbán described the Corinthian leather as a "rich" leather.[2] In the event, the leather term came to include the vinyl upholstering for interior surfaces, such as the backs of the front seats and the head rests, and the lower parts of door facings.[12]

In the book BAD — Or, The Dumbing of America (1991), the literary scholar Paul Fussell said that the term Corinthian leather was chosen "because a reference book suggested that Corinthian connotes rich desirability" and so appeal to modern people who love luxury, as much as did the people of Ancient Corinth. That love of luxury of the Corinthians, Fussell noted, was “why Saint Paul selected them to receive one of his loudest moral blasts. He told them, ‘It is reported that there is fornication among you. . .’. ” Fussell concluded that whoever coined the term Corinthian leather would have to admit that the term itself "is just words" and that the leather in question "never saw Corinth at all."[13]


  1. ^ Kiley, Richard (January 15, 2009). "No Such Thing As Corinthian Leather in the Cordoba". Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg L.P. Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-09-25. It's also worth noting that "rich Corinthian leather" was an invention of a Bozell copywriter...
  2. ^ a b Corinthian Leather – The Material with a Surprising Story, Liberty Leather Goods
  3. ^ Modzelewski, Joe (June 23, 1988). "Loser's corner". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. p. 1A. Retrieved 2011-03-30. Chrysler admits that an ad agency made the word . . . The Wall Street Journal reports that the Corinthian leather is produced at factory at Newark, N.J.
  4. ^ "1975 Chrysler Cordoba "Fine Corithian Leather" Ricardo Montalban - "Pride"". YouTube.
  5. ^ "Famous Chrysler Cordoba Commercial with Ricardo Montalban!!". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 11 February 2022 – via www.youtube.com.
  6. ^ "Ricardo Montalbán Chrysler Cordoba "Corinthian Leather" (1980)". YouTube.
  7. ^ Ryan, Joal (January 14, 2009). "Ricardo Montalban, TV's Mr. Roarke, Trek's Khan, Dead at 88". E! Online. E! Entertainment Television, Inc. Archived from the original on 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 'But does it mean anything?' Letterman asked. 'Nothing,' Montalban conceded.
  8. ^ Denson, Jon (2010). "The 1976–1978 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham – "Imperial in all but name"". allpar.com. AllparLLC. Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-09-25. In fact, the 1974 Imperial was the first to have rich 'Corinthian Leather,'...
  9. ^ a b "Late Night with David Letterman April 14, 1987". Late Night with David Letterman. Season 1986-1987. April 14, 1987. NBC. Retrieved 2024-05-08.
  10. ^ Scott, Vernon (2 September 1985). "Montalban's love affair". United Press International. Retrieved 2015-08-19. Montalban ... admits Corinthian simply signified the trade name of a domestic manufacturer of leather.
  11. ^ O'Reilly, Terry. "Words Invented By Marketers". Under the Influence. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  12. ^ Fenner, Pat (September 14, 1987). "What is source of car leather?". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida: Times Publishing Company. p. 2.2. Retrieved 2011-03-30. Corinthian leather is Chrysler's trade name for a blend of leather and vinyl developed for its luxury cars. The combination provides the plush qualities of leather while eliminating the care required by the real thing
  13. ^ Fussell, Paul (1991). BAD — Or, The Dumbing of America. New York: Simon & Schuster

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