Cool photo shoot with the Mondial

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Cool article about Jim Barbourt

he more I meet and learn about current and previous Mondial owners, the more I come to respect them as remarkable folks.

From 6 time British Ferrari winner John Pogson (whom I hope to meet in person one day) to Micheal J Fox.

That’s why it came to no surprise that a living legend, Jim Barbour was a Mondial owner before he had to sell all his cars because of an eye injury.

He was also the first steward for Ferrari Challenge!

From WW2 Fighter Pilot to Racial Prejudice to Racing Godfather.

Stick shift snapped in two!

Read about it here

Fixes

I’ve been thinking my ‘hateful 10’ and realized that most can be rectified.
Let me start with the 3 things that nothing I can do will change.

#1 – Maintenance cost. It’s an old car. It’s exotic. It’s not driven daily. All these things combine to make to make this car a much more expensive proposition than many other cars.

#2 – Fuel economy – 13 mpg (nuff said)

#3 – Because it’s so low to the ground, it can cause scrapes.

The three gripes pretty much apply to all Ferrari and exotics so not much anybody can do there, so I’m at peace. If you’re going to get a Ferrari – 1 to 3 is unavoidable.

#4 – Automatic mice/seatbelts – really annoying – this makes the 1989 models really great. Solution to this is either an expensive retrofit/or buy a 1989 model.

The next easily 6 are fixable!

#5 – Windows are slow to go up (down is fast) – I hear these will fix them right up – I’ve ordered them and will also clean the motors/guides…so easily solved.

#6 – Headlamps are relatively dim compared to LED/Xenon/HID – like the windows. I was going to upgrade to these from great things I hear over at the Ferrarichat 348 forum. I was examining my lamps when I realized that the previous owner had these protectors on them. They were old and nasty. I peeled the right off, and boom – my lights were all of a sudden 2x times brighter. Not as bright as modern cars, but I decided to keep them as the LED would not period correct, and the current light level is good enough for me. So fixed.

#7 – Knee bolsters seem unnecessary large – it seems that removing them would allow me to get an extra 2 inches of leg/knee room. Thanks to ///Mike – I’m in the process of removing them – so soon to be fixed…which improves space dramatically.

#8 – Small back seats. Removing the knee bolsters adds about 15% more space back there, enough to have folks that are 5’3′ 130 pounds be fine for longer trips (just take frequent stops/stretch breaks)

#9 – Roof leaks when it is raining – I found the areas that leak and they just need more weather stripping. I hardly drive in the rain, so this will on the back burner – but relatively easy to resolve.

#10 – 2nd gear balkiness when cold. I’ve switched to redline which helped. But the permanent solution is here for the 2nd gear. Maybe I’ll get to it one day.

So there you have it. After all, is said and done, really the automatic seatbelt mice are the only very minor annoyance I have. This is after nearly 5 years of ownership. I true testament to how underrated Mondials really are. Again, as a point of reference, I’ve owned an AP1 S2000 and R2 2000 NSX, so I think I have reasonable experience with the supposed ‘best’ if you listen to press at the time the Mondial t came out.

Things I don’t like about the Mondial

I’ve written tons of articles about what is right about the Mondial. I think it’s about time I take a different direction. Things that I hate. This post would be a great counterbalance, and importantly provide intellectual honesty on the car.

Here’s my list:

#1 – Maintenance cost. It’s an old car. It’s exotic. It’s not driven daily. All these things combine to make to make this car a much more expensive proposition than many other cars.

#2 – Small back seats. When my daughters were younger (and smaller) – the back seats fit them perfectly. Now that my kids are getting older; having them have to sit back there with any trip longer than 30 minutes would not win me any “Dad of the year” awards. That said, they are still usable for short trips. They are really for smaller folks.

#3 – Windows are slow to go up (down is fast) – I hear there are some things you can do to rectify this, so I’ll make this a ‘half-gripe.’

#4 – Automatic mice/seatbelts – really annoying.

#5 – Fuel economy – 13 mpg (nuff said)

#6 – Headlamps are relatively dim compared to LED/Xenon/HID – like the windows, I hear easy upgrades out there – so again a ‘half-complaint.’

#7 – Roof leaks when it is raining – probably has more to do with my replaced soft top, and maybe fixable.

#8 – Knee bolsters seem unnecessary large – it seems that removing them would allow me to get an extra 2 inches of leg/knee room

#9 – 2nd Gear needs about 5-10 minutes to warm up to be usable

#10 – Because it’s so low to the ground, it can cause scrapes.

That’s my hate list!

Mondial 8 retrospective Part III

Let me step back and restate my thesis for clarity:

The 1980 Mondial 8 (US Spec, perhaps a more apt description would be California Spec) *is slow* compared to used cars and vehicles available to purchase outside the United States in 1980. However, compared to *new* cars available for purchase by Americans in 1980, it not only is competitive but at the top of the list.

Isn’t that a lot of qualifiers? Well, I would argue no. The United States has a long history of holding back forbidden fruit across our shores (NSX-Type R, Skyline GTR34, Lancer Evolution to name a few.) Would any of you feel a ‘comparison’ review of say a GT2/GT3/AMG/M/Type-R variant to a more pedestrian model only available to us Yanks would ever be fair?

Take the E36 M3 – the US version was 240hp versus the Euro-spec 321 hp. Not exactly a fair fight to compare European variant to the US version and say a-ha! The M3 is slow!

John did some great work here and collected other cars from 1980 and posted 1/4 mile times of cars that were faster than the Mondial 8. Let’s take a look at the cars that were faster from his list.

1980/1981
1980 Audi Quattro – Not available in the US until 1982 (year Mondial QV was out)
1980 BMW 320i Turbo – Not available in the US
“The E21 was sold in the United States from model years 1977 to 1983 as the four-cylinder 320i and 320is. Six-cylinder models were not sold in America, because the E21 versions of the M20 engine did not meet U.S. emissions regulations at the time.”
1980 Chevrolet Corvette L82 – Time quoted is the Non-California variant – I have talked about this above.
1980 De Tomaso Pantera GT5 – Not available in the US
1980 Ferrari 308 GTS – We had to make do with GTSi variant by this time) – it was only 0.1 second faster in a standard drag race.
1980 Porsche 928 – already stated this was the faster (see above post, although I have one comparison test that shows the 8 faster)
1980 BMW M1 – Not available in the US – had to be grey marketed
1981 Ferrari 308 Dino GT4 – Not made in the year 1981
1980 Jaguar XJ-S – Not available in the US
1980 Porsche 924 Turbo – Not available in the US
1981 Porsche 911 SC – “Due to ever more draconian emissions regulations, the 930 was withheld from the important US and Japanese markets.”

I’m going to skip 1982 – since I’m talking only about the Mondial 8, if you want to talk about the QV – those are super fast (I think they used ‘ringers’ on the reviews, but that deserves its own thread, I want to stick to the Mondial 8)

As you can see, without cherry picking reviews, my argument holds.

The Mondial’s name (the French word for “world”) had a double entendre, not only was it to commemorate the four recent F1 World Championships, but to signify it would be a car that could satisfy ALL of the world’s stringent market regulations, specifically California (One of Ferrari’s top locations)

If I were to cherry pick reviews, I could point to documented road tests that show the Mondial 8 coming ahead of the 928 in the 1/4..so the Mondial 8 would be second only to the 308GTSi in the 1/4 mile for new cars you could buy in the USA in 1980.  To be fair a non-California Corvette is the fastest new car you can get in 1980 in the USA.

Some people obsess over baseball statistics; I guess this is just my thing. I have digital copies of everything I mentioned here if any of you would like them or need backing support.

In closing, the Mondial 8 came out in the “Dark Ages” in the US automotive landscape. A time when, not just Ferrari, but Lamborghini, Maserati, and all the mainstream automakers were struggling to figure out EPA rules.

Just funny you don’t see any Lamborghini Urraco/Maserati Marek/Lotus Elite articles that are negative huh? (those all had 1/4s over 18 seconds compared to the Mondial 8’s 16)

By the time the 147 neutered Mondial’s were exposed to hit pieces, the damage was done for all Mondials to follow. These 147 would go on to represent the over 6,000 Mondials to come.

Context is King Part II

One thing to note as well is I started doing analysis – I first limited it to cars that were 2+2 (I mean it’s sort of unfair to compare cars from different classes.) For example, one would not compare a Lusso to a Mclaren 720. What I found was when compared to 2+2 – the 8 was more than capable. So I extended it to strictly 2 seaters only like the Vette and Delorean (I should have added the 308gtsi, thank you)

What I found was even compared to the 2 seat ‘pure’ sports cars the Mondial 8 had nothing to be ashamed about. Being behind 0.1 seconds the 308gtsi should not make any US 8 owner feel especially bad.

Again, let me say the Mondial 8 is SLOW. No doubt about it. This is not an attempt at revisionist history. The thing I want to remind folks though is ALL BRAND US CARS (308gtsi notwithstanding) were slow the year Ronald Reagon took office. Just a conveniently left out and the most important piece of context when evaluating the “poor” performing Mondial.

Nevermind that the Mondial was considered the best handling Ferrari EVER up to that point (that’s never mentioned huh?) Nor do people understand California compliant and handicapped Mondial 8 (US Spec) represents just 2 PERCENT of all Mondials on the road.

Also, another thing to keep in mind is the 205 HP was in Euro Spec. All road tests of the Euro 8 were consistently faster than the US. I’ve heard the version Americans had was more in line like 180hp. That’s how you get a US spec 308GTSi doing only 16s back in 1980. The difference is, nobody points to that road test when judging the 308’s bonafides…let alone the 308qv or the 328.

You literally have folks that believe a Mondial t coupe does the 1/4 in 17+ seconds today.

Here is a video of a drag race with a Mondial t Coupe and a BMW M635CSi

The M635CSI does 1/4s in the low 14s FYI.

Here is the video of the T Coupe vs a Testarossa. Clocked 13.8 in the 1/4 (Bone stock except for exhaust)

Again, in today’s day and age – I know of Honda Civics that can go faster, so not bragging by any means – just wanted to give historical context. 13.8 in 1989 was very respectable, and more importantly firmly in the ‘sweet’ spot when driving today on public roads.

Aaron, another cool Mondial owner had done some modifications to the Mondial 8:

Mondial8.jpg
This is before and after we tuned the CIS fuel injection. I showed the O2 readings at the bottom, you can tell they were way too lean for the engine to make max power before. Give the girl a little fuel and she really picked up some power.

 

 

Context is King.

I’ve often talked about the reason why/how the Mondial got the ‘poor’ performer albatross tossed around its neck. When the Mondial 8 first came it, it was designed from the get-go to pass stringent emissions rules worldwide, specifically the United States, and in particular – Califonia (that had even stricter laws.)

I wanted to give a history lesson on just how severe those restrictions were in the US by providing the horsepower figures for most of the sports cars at the time. In all cases, I will give the value for the ‘top of the line’ version of each model.

1980 Challenger
105 HP
0-60: 12.1
1/4 Mile 18.2

Source:
https://www.zeroto60times.com/?s=challenger

1980 Mustang “Cobra”
132 HP
0-60: 10.8
1/4 Mile: 18.2

Source:
https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/1980-ford-mustang-cobra-review

1980 Mercedes Benz 380 SL
155 HP
0-60: 10.8
1/4 Mile: 18.2

Source:
https://www.zeroto60times.com/vehicle-make/mercedes-0-60-mph-times/

1981 Camero “Z28” – it had to be fitted with specialized emissions equipment to pass California rules (you guessed it – Ferrari’s biggest market)
165 HP
0-60: 9.7

Source:
https://www.zeroto60times.com/vehicle-make/chevrolet-0-60-mph-times/new-old/

1980 Maserati Marek
180 HP
0-60: 9.2
1/4: 17.1

Source: http://alexachua.com/rt_1975.pdf
1979 Lamborghini Uracco (US version)
180 HP
0-60: 10.1
1/4: 17.9

Source: http://alexachua.com/rt_1981.pdf
1980 Corvette – again had to have unique emissions equipment for the market that Ferrari needed compliance: California
“The only powertrain available in California is a five-liter V-8 with automatic….”
180 HP
0-60: 8.3
1/4: 16.5
(The stats for the Vette is the performance for the non-California version btw which was faster)
http://alexachua.com/mtdec1981.pdf

1980 Porsche 928
229 HP
0-60: 8.2
1/4: 16.2

Source: http://alexachua.com/rt_1981.pdf
I’ve listed the automotive competition of the time. How about the Mondial 8?

Just in case I am accused of “cherry-picking numbers” Let me take the WORSE review and performance of the Mondial 8 (you know the one where they admitted the car had broken shifter that would often go from 4th gear to 2nd)

1980 Mondial 8
205 HP
0-60: 9.4
1/4: 17.1

Source: http://alexachua.com/rt_1981.pdf

If you take Motortrend, the Mondial beat or were as fast as the competition.
http://alexachua.com/mtdec1981.pdf
0-60: 8.2
1/4: 16.3

So what does this all mean? Ferrari was victim to new rules in 1980 (like every other automaker.) – It’s just unlike other models, it was comfortable for ‘journalists’ to keep repeating the same trope over and over again.

The car was never given context based on the era. Sadly, these writers would regurgitate the 1980 reviews for the three iterations to come.  You might be wondering, where is the 911 Turbo?

It was pulled from US in 1980…I’ll let you guess the reason why.  All I can say is 1980 was probably the worse year of all time when it came to performance cars — a time when you had 180 HP Vettes and 130 HP Mustangs – For something to come out 205 HP was eye-opening in itself in that horrible time.

One thing to note as well is I started doing analysis – I first limited it to cars that were 2+2 (I mean it’s sort of unfair to compare cars from different classes.) For example, one would not compare a Lusso to a Mclaren 720. What I found was when compared to 2+2 – the 8 was more than capable. So I extended it to strictly 2 seaters only like the Vette and Delorean and 308GTSi

What I found was even compared to the 2 seat ‘pure’ sports cars the Mondial 8 had nothing to be ashamed about. Being behind 0.1 seconds the 308gtsi should not make any US 8 owner feel especially bad.

Again, let me say the Mondial 8 is SLOW. No doubt about it. This is not an attempt at revisionist history. The thing I want to remind folks though is ALL BRAND US CARS (were slow the year Ronald Reagon took office. Just a conveniently left out and the most important piece of context when evaluating the “poor” performing Mondial.

Nevermind that the Mondial was considered the best handling Ferrari EVER up to that point (that’s never mentioned huh?) Nor do people understand California compliant and handicapped Mondial 8 (US Spec) represents just 2 PERCENT of all Mondials on the road.

When Chevy/Ford/etc. Improved their fuel injection, nobody keeps repeating the ‘slow’ Corvette/Mustang/etc reviews. But with only 147 examples of Calfornia/EPA mandated (or put another way approximately 2% of all Mondials) variant of the Mondial 8s – you don’t have much of a cohort to have ‘backfire.’

I’ve gotten some emails saying “No way the Mondial 8” was one of the ‘fastest’ cars in 1980! Look at the Contach or 512 for a start.

Yes, let’s look at them. The Contach was not allowed to be imported into the US until the mid-80s – the 512 was disallowed altogether (you needed to grey market it)

Enzo Ferrari himself was bearish on the US market in the late 70’s because before Reagon got elected (and stopped further tightening) – he predicted that regulations would only get tougher. By the time the QV came out, and Maranello figured out how to a handle on emissions-the 147 examples with the lean/’banana in the tailpipe‘ method of appeasing the bureaucrats were already on their way to be the standard bearer of the 98% of the Mondials that would come after.

Talk about a PR disaster.

Why was 1980 a bad time for sports cars?

Journalists don’t do a good job explaining the 1980 epoch, and why so many cars were underpowered and not judge the car in a vacuum without context. Ferrari had to abide by strict EPA regulations at this time. The same rules that forced the creation if the 308gtsi (16.1 1/4 Road and Track 81′) These stringent rules is what yielded 10-second 0-60 Ford Mustangs, 15.9 1/4 mile Corvettes, and 16.2 1/4 mile Porsches.

Is the 8 fast compared to previous offerings? By no means do I claim that; but I would hope these ‘journalists’ would give context and judge a car by its contemporaries –

The Mondial had a rough start from the gate, and it only snowballed as the latest armchair journalist rushed to meet their deadline…hmm what would be a good article? Got it! “The slow Ferrari” that should get the readers flipping. “The slow Maserati” title just didn’t have the same panache.

Don’t believe me? When was the last time you read about that ‘slow’ Lamborghini Urraco or ‘slow’ Maserati Marek (that had the same US choking equipment?) – They were seconds slower, (yes seconds) then the Mondial 8.