Corinthian leather is a term coined by the advertising agency Bozell to describe the upholstery used in certain Chrysler luxury vehicles. The term first appeared in advertising in 1974. Although the term suggests that the product has a relationship to or origination from Corinth, there is no relationship; the term is merely a marketing concept.
While the term was first used during the marketing campaign for the 1974 Imperial LeBaron, it is usually associated with the marketing campaign for the 1975 Cordoba and that campaign's celebrity spokesperson, Ricardo Montalban, who described "the thickly-cushioned luxury of seats available even in soft Corinthian leather".
Some sources say the term refers to the combination of leather seating surfaces and vinyl seat sides. However, most cars worldwide with "leather upholstery" have matching color vinyl seat bases and often the rear faces of the front seats, the head rests, and the door facings. The standard term in period car catalogs was 'leather with vinyl', and sometimes 'leather seat facings'. When Montalban was asked by David Letterman on Late Night with David Letterman what the term meant, the actor playfully admitted that the term meant nothing.
- 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 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
It’s also worth noting that “rich Corinthian leather” was an invention of a Bozell copywriter...
- 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 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
'But does it mean anything?' Letterman asked. 'Nothing,' Montalban conceded.
- Denson, Jon (2010). "The 1976-1978 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham - "Imperial in all but name"". allpar.com. Allpar LLC. Archived from the original on 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
In fact, the 1974 Imperial was the first to have rich 'Corinthian Leather,'...
- Modzelewski, Joe (June 23, 1988). "Loser's corner". The Miami News (Miami, Florida: The Miami News). p. 1A. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
Chrysler admits that an ad agency made the word up ... The Wall Street Journal reports that a lot of the so-called Corinthian leather is produced at a plant outside Newark, N.J.
- *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
- Scott, Vernon (2 September 1985). "Scott's World;NEWLN: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.
- O'Reilly, Terry. "Words Invented By Marketers". Under the Influence (Canadian Broadcasting Organization). Retrieved 14 February 2016.