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Mondial Tone

Mechanical woes and radical looks polarized Ferrari fans—you either loved or hated the Mondial

When the Ferrari Mondial 8 was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in March 1980, it was named in honor of the 4-cylinder, 3-liter sports racing Ferrari of the '60s.

The new Mondial had a 3-liter, 8-cylinder motor mounted transversally behind the driver, as in the 308 GT4 it replaced. It also had a ten cm longer wheelbase than the GT4, offering greater comfort to the driver and passengers. In 1983, the engine size was increased to 3.2 liters, and the car was renamed the Mondial 3.2. The horsepower increased to 260 and top speed to 145 mph.

The car presented is a 1987 Mondial 3.2 Cabriolet finished in metallic blue with blue top and parchment interior. This Mondial is equipped with 348 wheels and has only been driven 24,420 miles.

The SCM Analysis

This car sold at the June 12 Artcurial Auction in Paris, France, for $38,988. I was recently at dinner with a group of car guys, and one of them

asked me about Mondials. After the groans subsided, I asked him what was on his mind. He explained that he was considering buying an older Ferrari as a daily driver. He only drove a few miles to work and he wanted something that was more fun than his current car. He ruled out a 308 because he had never warmed up to the styling, and besides, he liked the idea of being able to carry more than his briefcase or take the kids with him on weekends.

Ferrari introduced the Mondial as the top model of their V8 series. Replacing the relatively spartan 308 GT4, the Mondial leaned more toward the luxurious Ferrari 400 GT than its sporty V8 siblings. It featured more electronic accessories than any Ferrari before it and was a showcase of new technology throughout its production. While some of the technology marked the future, some of it was short-lived.

In the success category, the Mondial, through its various iterations, was the first V8 Ferrari to feature fuel injection, electronic ignition, automatic climate control, anti-dive suspension, ABS brakes, cockpit-adjustable suspension, power steering, t-type transaxle, and an automatic clutch. In the "you won't see these things again" column are Ferrari's first automatic clutch, Michelin TRX tires, an ill-fated electronic monitoring system, and to the task.

I actually like Mondials. I sold them when they were new, and I tried to keep a used one in inventory to drive. They have large doors and a high seat, so you enter gracefully rather than flailing around before sitting on the ground. There's plenty of leg- and headroom, and the steering wheel adjusts. When you drive a Mondial you feel like an adult.

It's a safe bet that anyone who knocks a Mondial hasn't driven one. The seating position is excellent and the handling is good. The large steering wheel makes the non-assisted steering on the early models pleasant. While not fast, there were rumors that the coupes were quicker around Ferrari's test track than their GTB counterpart. The cabriolet drives nicely and is free from the cowl shake that plagues many convertibles, but the coupe drives far better, as the roof adds much-needed rigidity to the chassis.

Each of the four generations of Mondials is a significant improvement over the previous model. The first version, the 1980 Mondial 8, should be avoided. They are under-powered and prone to engine issues, electrical demons, and rust. If you can steal one to drive until it's dead, you might be okay, but any money spent on restoration is wasted.

The 1983 Mondial Quattrovalvole was a big step up. Power increased as much as 60 hp, rust issues seemed to subside, and a cabriolet version, Ferrari's first open top model in ten years, was added to the lineup. With the 1986 Mondial 3.2, Ferrari started to get it right. New body-colored bumpers actually made the Mondial attractive. The 3.2-liter engine made it spirited, and interior updates eliminated electrical issues and improved an already attractive space.

The final generation 1989 Mondial t was a giant leap forward. It featured a new and more powerful longitudinally mounted engine mated to Ferrari's new t type transaxle. The suspension was fitted with cockpit-controlled damping, and power-assisted steering eased parking. Cosmetically, the Mondial received more attractive bumpers, new side grilles and new wheels. Inside, the car was again upgraded, this time with sportier seats, new dash, and new trim.

Even with the updates, the Mondial t wasn't loved. Mechanical issues caused delays in distribution, and teething problems haunted early cars. A bad rap for difficult tops on Cabriolets, electrical issues, and higher depreciation than two-passenger Ferraris scared off potential buyers. The faults were overblown; the top left a lot to be desired, but electrical issues could be fixed without an umbilical cord to the factory, and depreciation was in line with German competition.

Mondials are drivers, and most have a number of miles and accompanying wear. Mechanically they're excellent, with a dependable engine and solid driveline. Interiors on Cabriolets are often sun-bleached. Rear side windows on Cabriolets are prone to seizing either up or down. The windows are $1,500 each to fix—and don't try it at home. The engine is mounted in a sub-frame and both must be removed for major servicing. Any electrical glitch is probably more serious than it appears. On the bright side, if something goes wrong, you'll likely be able to drive to the shop.

The Mondial at Artcurial had low mileage and a flashy, but limited-appeal, color scheme. There was no mention of service, which fosters suspicion of deferred maintenance. Mondials are less valuable in Europe, but this car fetched a lot of euros. Nice Mondials are getting rare, and if this is a good car, the buyer did fine.

No Ferrari polarizes enthusiasts like a Mondial. You either like them or hate them. There's defensible logic on both sides. My friend figures that being able to drive a Ferrari for less than the cost of new Honda is a pretty good deal. (Of course, that equation falls apart when you pay $4,000 to get your Ferrari tuned, as compared to $400 for your Honda.) But SCM readers already know that owning any used Ferrari is risky. I cautioned him to shop carefully and encouraged him to start looking

Years Produced: 1980–93

Number Produced: 6,872

Original List Price: $63,939 to $113,000

SCM Valuation: $25,000–$35,000 (at time of print)

Tune-up Cost: $4,000

Distributor Caps: $300 (two required)

Chassis #: ZFFWD26B0000068037

Chassis # Location: Right frame high in engine compartment

Engine # Location: On the top in the V

Club Info: Ferrari Club of America PO Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358

Web Site:

Alternatives: 1986–89 Mercedes 560SL, 1971–89 Porsche 911 Cabriolet, 1988–94 Jaguar XJS Convertible

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