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 this is merely a marketing concept, it suggests that the term—not the product—was inspired from the more elaborate and impressive ancient Greek column of the Corinthian order.
While the term was first used during the marketing campaign for the 1974 Imperial LeBaron, it is usually associated with the marketing campaign beginning with the 1975 Cordoba and that campaign's celebrity spokesperson, Ricardo Montalbán, who described the thickly-cushioned luxury of seats "available even in fine (alternately, "soft" or "rich") Corinthian leather".
Much of the leather used in Chrysler vehicles during the era originated from a supplier located outside Newark, New Jersey.
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 Montalbán was asked by David Letterman on Late Night with David Letterman what the term meant, the actor cheerfully admitted that the term meant nothing.