An eBay user wrote this about the Mondial that I thought was very interesting…
Consider a statistic: A 1980 Ferrari Mondial 8 can do 0-100MPH in 28.8 seconds. The 1989 Ferrari Mondial T Coupe can do the same in 13.9 seconds. Not only is that a staggering difference but also makes the 1989-1993 Mondials faster (top speed) and quicker (0-60 or 0-100MPH) than any 308/328 that came before it.
In addition, the ”T” feels viscously raw and powerful to drive, while at the same time having a uniquely roomy and comfortable interior with phenomenal all-around visibility. My previous Ferrari was a 1983 308 GTSi QV and my 1989 Mondial T Coupe is a much easier car to live with while being more thrilling to drive. The QV felt noticeably slower and less powerful than my T. While the horsepower is signficantly higher on the T (295 vs 230 for US versions), its the increase in usable torque that you notice the most.
The one thing that kills all Mondials (and 308 GT4’s for that matter) is that the car looks so much better in person than in photos. The Mondial does not do 2-D well. But thankfully, in 3-D, the design is incredible. The’re no mistaking the 308/328 heritage, but like a very attractive librarian type, the restraint is what endears the design. The T has wider fender flares than earlier models so it has a muscular look that the 8, QV and 3.2 don’t. The one thing that captures you while gazing at the car in the metal is its length. Compare it to the 348 (or even 355) which is mechanically what the T was based on (the Mondials took the mechanicals from the 3X8 series cars that they were based upon), and the shorter 2-seater looks downright stubby! Not to mention that the longer wheelbase actually greatly helped in the handling of the cars. The Mondial T also had a very significant technical change from earlier Mondials: While the engine was from the new 348 as was the gearbox, brakes, and suspension, the new longitudinal engine/transverse gearbox layout was a huge departure from the transverse-engined configuration that had stuck with the ”Dino” series cars since the 246 right up through the GT4, 308, and 328. This meant that the engine was not on top of the gearbox but that the engine had been turned 90 degrees, lowered into the chassis a significangt amount and the gearbox laid out in a transverse (or T) layout like the F1 cars. To say this improved handling would be a gross understatement. The engine mass was much lower in the T which in turn lowered the center of gravity which in turn transformed the handling capabilities. In addition, the brakes were ”Porsche-good” which is a great compliment and quite a departure from the earlier cars, which in my opinion, had marginal brakes.
Another great quality of the Mondial T is rarity. Only 43 T Coupes ever made it to our shores, one for every active Ferrari dealer, and 1989 was the only year Ferrari North America imported them. The cabriolets are great fun too but the rigidity of the T Coupe makes it one of the very best handling 3X8 sries cars ever made. In addition, the masculine roofline C pillar matched up with the wider fender flares, re-designed side grills and body-colored bumpers to give the T Coupe almost an Italian muscle-car look. Drive a newer 355/360/430 and people think you are a show-off over-compensating for some hidden insecurity. Drive an old-school Ferrari or even a 550/456 and you’re considered someone with taste. You’ll attract the bubble-heads in your ”boy-racer-wannabe” all the way back to the zero-lot-line foam-columned grandiose house in the new gated development But in an older car you’ll play the connoissuer as you attract the quality women back to your stone century-old chateau. Plus there is so much more of a feeling you get with your machine when you are its ”current historic keeper for posterity” than one that gets its warranty work done at the local dealer.
And although not cheap to maintain, they will never depreciate, cost as much as an average middle-end new car, and are more rewarding to drive than the newer cars with their silly flappy-paddle gearboxes, outrageously complicated electronics, and gormless spaceship-jelly bean styling. They are purer.
The trick is finding a good one, but don’t be afraid to rescue one either. We need more keepers of the faith willing to massage marginal cars back go health and keep these gems on the road.