Car-dealer training films are an odd branch of cinema. Like all film genres where the goal is something other than just making a good movie (religious films or advertising, for example) the results can seem weird and campy when seen out of context. In this 1977 Chrysler Cordoba vs. Ford Thunderbird (and Pontiac Grand Prix) training film, Chrysler takes some genuinely odd potshots at its competitor from Ford.
I was alerted to this from a Twitter pal, who thought Chrysler was mocking the use of normal round headlamps behind the Thunderbird’s swanky-ass headlamp doors. That’s not really what they were going on about, though. It’s weirder.
Here, watch for yourself (about 1:09):
OK, so the whole thrust of this film is to show that the Cordoba better embodies the concept of “personal luxury” than any of its competitors in this very odd and very American made-up market segment.
The script writers are essentially just reminding you that hey, the Cordoba has so much more class than these other two clowns it’s not even funny. You can tell they feel a little insecure about the Thunderbird’s new covered headlamps, a decidedly classy addition to any 1977 car, so they’re really reaching here.
While the film acknowledges that buyers may point to those dramatic flip-open lights as a big draw, Chrysler makes a point that viewers should “look behind the covers” and into those “deep wells,” noting that there may be “no problem on nice days,” but then goes on to say:
“But imagine what would happen if snow or mud packed in there?”
Yes, just imagine! Imagine how much worse this car would look if you packed mud into its face! Not so classy now, are you Thunderbird? Are you, you smug, mud-faced bastard!
I mean, if we’re being fair here, would a Cordoba look so hot if you packed mud all over the front? Also, where were people driving their Thunderbirds in the late ’70s? Nobody was off-roading these things, and all of these heavy, sloppy, RWD boats sucked in the snow.
I grew up around these cars, and I’m pretty sure I never saw one with anything packed in those headlight wells. At worst, the motors for the covers would break and the doors would just stay jammed open, giving the car a perpetually surprised look:
Other stills from this film are gold, too. Like Cordoba-guy looking out the rear opera window, all terrifying and shit, like he’s the antagonist in some movie about a crazed stalker.
Thunderbird woman looks far more serene, even if they try to imply the T-Bird’s opera window doesn’t afford good rear passenger visibility, kind of deceitfully ignoring the large rear side window right behind it:
I liked the T-Bird’s weird opera windows.
One thing I never realized about the Cordoba is that it had this remarkably boss full-roof-arch opera lamp. It’s cool!
This leaves me wondering if a Chrysler dealership salesperson ever once actually asked a potential customer cross-shopping a Thunderbird this:
“Oh yeah, the T-Bird’s a nice car, sure. But you ever think about what you might do if those headlight openings got packed full of mud? Hoo-boy, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with that.”
That’s a closer line right there.