Taking a closer look at the Mondial: The car has crisp–if not wholly inspired–lines by designer Pininfarina, based on the late-1970s 308 platform. But the Mondial has a longer wheelbase than the two-seat 308, with a midengine design and a trunk aft of the motor. Early Mondials (the 1980 Mondial 8) had limited horsepower but, by 1985, the car came with a 3.2-liter V-8 with four valves per cylinder that were good for 260 hp (versus 235 hp for the Mondial 8). By 1989, the Mondial t had 300 horses.
The Mondial Cabrio is a very pretty package.
What enthusiasts rave about in the Mondial is its classic midengine handling (the moment of inertia in cars like this is predictable right up to the limit–with excellent grip even in the wet), its beautiful Ferrari engine note that’s like no other car, its excellent transmission and sporting pedal box (the arrangement of gas, brake and clutch in a racing fashion).
Put bluntly, what other car on the planet gives you access to this kind of history and power at this price? Not one. Want to know what new convertible sells for about $20K? You can’t even get into a milquetoast Chrysler Sebring for under $28K. Let’s see, a Chrysler or a Ferrari? — Michael Frank
The haute Italian interior circa 1985 is somehow still cool.
The dark side of the Mondial isn’t about the engine or the drivetrain, but the electrical system. Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market magazine says that the first step to buying a Mondial is to be very choosy. “First, you want a four-valve model [1985 or later]. Then you want one that’s been driven about three to four thousand miles a year.” That means the owner has fixed what’s broken rather than giving up and letting the car rot.
Martin also advises calling the service manager at the local Ferrari dealer, telling him what you’re looking for and asking what to have inspected before you buy. In the best case scenario (the one you’re shooting for), you should have to spend no more than $2K to $3K after you get the car to bring it into good running condition and then only fix what breaks. That still means a few thousand dollars a year (maintenance on Ferraris is more expensive than on any other make of car) but the thrill of owning a Ferrari should outweigh the burden on your wallet. — M.F.