Buyers’ guide – what you need to know about owning a top end classic. Spotlight on the Ferrari Mondial. Perhaps the least popular modern Ferrari the Mondial is still great value – and it’s a proper Ferrari with all the driving character you expect. Report by Chris Rees. Photography Michael Ward.
Welcome to what is quite possibly the best entry-level Ferrari of all, and certainly the cheapest. Often derided as ugly, slow and compromised by its 2+2 layout, the Mondial has always suffered a bad press.
But consider its benefits. By Ferrari standards, it’s pretty reliable and inexpensive to maintain. Certainly later examples have very good performance and handling. And the 2+2 layout makes it more practical than most, too.
As Ed Callow from Ferrari specialist Foskers says: “The Mondial offers tremendous accommodation and is one of the most user-friendly classic Ferraris. If the servicing and maintenance have been kept up to date, it’s reliable. It’s relatively inexpensive to purchase for a mid-engined V8 Ferrari, although of course that does not mean it’s cheap to look after.”
The Mondial was launched in 1980 as the ‘Mondial 8’ and was the direct replacement for the 308 GT4, whose then-unloved Bertone shape gave way to an unloved-ever-since design by Pininfarina. Initially offered in coupe form only, there was something about the long wheelbase, cab-forward look and those rear buttresses that wound aesthetes up the wrong way, as did the distinctive (but functional) side strakes. Although this was Ferrari’s last-ever 2+2 mid-engined car, the GT4-inspired chassis formed the basis of many future mid-engined Ferraris. The 3.0 V8 engine was basically taken straight from the GT4, then updated to Quattrovalvole spec in 1982, using all-new four-valve heads that raised power from 214bhp to 240bhp. 1983 saw the arrival of the Mondial Cabriolet, which at the time was the world’s only 2+2 mid-engined convertible. Arguably it was a sleeker-looking car than the Coupe, although rear seat space suffered.
In 1985, the engine capacity grew to 3.2 litres, and power rose to 270bhp, with changes to the drivetrain and restyling inside and out. Its final form (1989-1993) came the 300bhp Ferrari Mondial T: the ‘T’ signified a new transverse engine/transmission layout, echoing Ferrari’s contemporary Formula 1 car, and setting the template for future mid-engined Ferraris. Mondial production ended in 1993, setting a record as one of the most successful models in Ferrari’s history, with over 6100 examples sold.
ON THE ROAD
The Mondial is often seen as the poor relation of the Ferrari clan, but it’s actually pretty nice to drive, with handling that’s sharper than the 308 GTB. There’s plenty of space in the front but things are not so comfortable for rear-seat passengers, especially if you’re an adult. The driving position can feel odd as the pedals are offset, the steering wheel is very large, the handbrake is on the ‘wrong’ side and the switchgear is scattered all over the place. The gear lever feels long and first is engaged ‘dogleg’ fashion, but the clutch is light by Ferrari standards.
Whichever engine you choose, it’ll be a high-revving V8 that sounds fantastic. Easily the best performer is the 3.4-litre ‘T’ version which can get to 60mph in 5.6sec. The non-assisted steering in early Mondials can feel heavy at low speeds, but quickly lightens up and provides excellent feedback (3.4 T Mondials have power steering). The Mondial’s handling is tidy by the standards of the day, and certainly gets better the later the model you choose, while the ride always feels comfortable by sports car standards.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Mechanically, the Mondial is similar to the 308/328, and a properly maintained one should be reliable. Look for frayed coolant hoses, rusty header tank, failed oil pressure/temperature senders, damaged HT leads and poor piston sealing. Start the car from cold and check for smoke from the exhaust. Check carefully for oil leaks from the cam cover gasket and cam seals. Aftermarket exhausts are popular as the standard one is a bit restrictive, tinny-sounding and prone to corrosion.
The gearbox in the pre-‘T’ Mondial suffers from stiffness in first and second, especially from cold, so don’t worry too much about this – unless the lever actually starts jumping out of gear.
CHASSIS & BODY
The chassis is a tubular box steel-frame monocoque with double-wishbone suspension, coil-over dampers and anti-roll bars, the later 3.4 T using electronic adjustable dampers.
The steel used by Ferrari in the 1980s was sadly rustprone. Later cars were galvanised, but somehow still conspire to suffer rust. Common corrosion hot-spots are the bottoms of the doors, the boot lid, the area between the front wheels and the A-pillars. Make sure you also inspect the join around the roof and the rear buttresses where it meets the rubber finisher, as this is another weak point. Replacement body panels are hard to find, and effecting repairs can be tricky, so don’t underestimate the importance of sound bodywork. Rear screens tend to delaminate; a replacement will cost around £1000. Faded paintwork and jammed headlights are common problems, too. If your car has a sunroof, the long plastic gear that runs from the roof back to the motor in the pillar wears out far too easily and is very difficult (and expensive) to work on, so you may decide it’s simpler not to use the sunroof. If you want to catch the sun, go for a Cabriolet instead! Speaking of which, check the Cabriolet’s roof carefully; the latches break easily and the rear screen often becomes cloudy.
Inside, the electric display in the centre tunnel can sometimes go haywire with fuseboard issues, so check that this works properly. The problem is that the layered fuseboard can delaminate, causing electrical cross-connections, and many fuseboards have been replaced by aftermarket items. The contacts in the switchgear also corrode, which can usually be solved with a simple clean (just as well, since new switches aren’t easy to find). The plastic switch panel itself also warps, with replacements hard to source. Indeed, you’ll struggle to get replacement interior trim in general. Other Mondial issues include failed air-conditioning and perished leather (they both need regular fettling).
Servicing should be carried out annually or every 6000 miles. Cambelts should be changed at least every three years, and clutches don’t last terribly long, either. Costs vary significantly depending on which engine you have: 3.0, 3.2 or 3.4 T. For instance a timing belt change on a 3.0/3.2 costs around £500, whereas for the 3.4 T it’ll cost £1600 because it’s an engine-out job. Likewise, a clutch change on a 3.0/3.2 is around £700, whereas a 3.4 T single-plate will be nearly £1000 and a 3.4 T twinplate more like £1800. As for a full brake disc/pad change, the 3.0/3.2 costs in the region of £1300, while the 3.4 T is significantly pricier, as the brake/handbrake set-up is different. A quick word about tyres. The correct ‘metric’ 390mm Michelin TRX tyres on early Mondials are expensive (£400 each) so many owners switch to later-type 16-inch or 348-type 17-inch wheels. As originality isn’t such a big issue with Mondials, the benefits of switching to modern rubber far outweigh the detriment of going non-original.
Depending on the specification of the Mondial you go for, a good useable example should be between £25,000 and £35,000. The most expensive versions are the Mondial T Cabriolets, for which you should expect to pay around £40,000.
All versions are quite rare in the UK, but the most desirable is the Mondial T, which shares its engine and much of the running gear with the 348. Approximately 100 were sold here, split evenly between Coupe and Cabriolet variants. The ‘next best thing’ is the Mondial 3.2, of which only 91 were sold in the UK. A wellsorted 3.2 is great to drive and costs significantly less than a 3.4 T to run.
As with nearly all mid-engined V8 Ferraris, the most popular colour combination is red with cream, beige or tan leather. Dark blue also looks terrific on the Mondial. What about future price movement? Ed Callow of Foskers comments: “Mondial values have moved on by around £8-10k in the last year, and I’d expect to see similar growth over the next year or two. I’d anticipate a car selling today at £35,000 to be priced around £50,000-55,000 by 2017.”
Many thanks to Ferrari specialist Foskers for helping to prepare this buyers’ guide.
TYPICAL UK PRICES
Mondial QV coupe 1984, 37k miles, black, £23,999
Mondial QV coupe 1986, 18k miles, red, £27,875
Mondial 8 coupe 1982, 48k miles, silver, £34,950
Mondial T convertible 1991, 47k miles, red, £38,500
|Car||Mondial 3.2||Mondial 8||Mondial QV||Mondial 3.4T|
|Car type||Central engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Cylinders||Transverse mid V8, 90-deg|
|Cooling system||Water cooled, electric fan|
|Bore / Stroke||83.00mm (3.27 in.) 73.60mm (2.90in.)|
|Displacement||3186cc (194.50 cu. in.)||2927cc||2927cc||3405cc|
|Valve gear||2 ohc, 4 valves per cylinder, toothed belt camshaft drive|
|Compression ratio||9.8-to-1. Min. octane raring: 91RM|
|Induction||Bosch K-Jetronic continuous flow Injection|
|Ignition||Marelli Microplex ignition|
|Fuel pump||Bosch electric. roller type|
|Oil filter||Full-flow. disposable canister|
|Max. power||270 bhp (PS-DIN) 199KW (ISO) at 7000 rpm||214bhp (DIN) at 6600 rpm||240bhp (DIN) at 7000 rpm||300bhp (DIN) at 7200 rpm|
|Max. torque||224 lb. ft (PS-DIN) at 5500 rpm|
|Clutch||Single dry plate|
|Gearbox||5-speed, all-indirect, all-synchromesh|
|Geer ratios and mph/1000rpm||Top 0.919 / 20.90|
|Fourth 1.244 / 15.44|
|Third 1.693 / 11.35|
|Second 2.353 / 8.16|
|First 3.419 / 5.62|
|Final drive||Hypoid bevel ratio 3.823|
|Mph at 1,000 rpm in top gear||20.90|
|CHASSIS AND BODY|
|Construction||Integral, with steel body|
|Cd drag coefficient||0.34|
|Front||independent, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar|
|Rear||independent, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar|
|Wheel dia||14.8 in.|
|Make and type||Dual circuits, split diagonally. Front 11.1 in (282mm) dia ventilated discs. Rear 11 in (280mm) dia ventilated discs|
|Servo||Vacuum servo. Handbrake, side lover acting on rear discs|
|Dimensions||F, 11.1 in. dia|
|R. 11.0 in. dia|
|Swept area||F. 235 sq. in.. R. 208 sq. in. Total 443 sq. in. (350 sq. In./ton Laden)|
|Type||Light alloy, 5-stud fixing, 7in rims front, 8in rear|
|Tyres make||Radial ply tyres (Michelin TRX on test car), size 220/55 VR390 F, 240/55 VR390 R, pressures F34 R35psi (normal driving).|
|type||Radial ply tubed|
|size||220/55 VR390 F, 240/55 VR390 R|
|Battery||12 volt 66 Ah.|
|Headlamps||Bosch halogen. 120/110 watt (total)|
|Screen wipers||3 speed, plus variable pause|
|Screen washer||Standard, electric|
|Heated backlight||Standard, dual-stage|
|Safety belts||Standard. Repa inertia reel|
|Interior trim||Cloth scats, pvc headlining|
|Floor covering||Cut-pile nylon carpet|
|Jack||Geared screw pillar|
|Jacking points||1 each side under sills|
|Underbody protection||Underbody galvanized and pvc coated|
|Fuel tank||17.6 Imp, gallons (80 litres)|
|Oil tank||19.2 pints (11 litres) SAE 30 Change oil every 12.000 miles Change filter every 12.000 miles|
|Gearbox and final drive||5.25 pints. SAE 90EP. Change every 12.000 miles|
|Valve clearance||Inlet 0.004in. (cold) Exhaust 0.004in. (cold)|
|Contact breaker||0.014in. gap; 35.41 deg. dwell|
|Ignition timing||5 deg. ATDC (stroboscopic at 900 rpm)|
|Spark plug||Type: Bosch W225T30. Gap 0.028in.|
|Compression pressure||130-160 psi|
|Tyro pressures||F. 29; R, 34 psi (all conditions)|
|Max. payload||716lb (325kg)|