My thoughts on Negative Commentary on the 1980-1982 Mondial 8

Contrary viewpoints on the Mondial 8 fall into four categories.

1) Price – Agreed – overpriced back then for what you got in performance (assuming that was your primary objective)- I do not protest. I agree that it was overpriced, but every Ferrari is “overpriced.” So not much of criticism if one compares to other Ferrari.

2) Style – Fully subjective – and if somebody doesn’t like it because of style – no contest! To each man their own! Style is personal

I am tired of these two criticisms:

1) Performance – it’s a myth, the reason why the 8 languished was 2 of the three US car magazines of the time got substandard models. The 3rd performed on par to other news cars of 1980, only the 911 beating them all. I wish somebody would put this myth to bed…a lot of the consternation was the Mondial 8 costs 20% more than the 308. Imagine the Cali T costing 20% more than the 488? Makes no sense right – a further reason for the gnashing of teeth..and the perpetual notion of saying it was a dog in the performance area.

2) Reliability – as compared to……a 1980’s Lambo? 1980 308? 1980’s Maserati? High maintenance is something that not unique to the Mondial of that epoch, but all exotics – so why single out the Mondial unless one has an agenda?

Furthermore, the price/reliability question is of much less gravitas circa 2016. We all agree the Mondial 8 is no longer ‘expensive’ and that today, other nearly 40-year-old Ferrari brethren require careful attention to maintenance. So while the reliability criticisms may be valid in 1980, I argue in particular these two aspects, price & reliability have less weight in the context of buying a nearly four-decade-old Ferrari (all other things being equal of course.)

As a superfan of the Mondial, I have no qualms about the opinion of others, as long as it is based on fact or is on subjective matters. That is why I put up no protest on criticism on notions of price or aesthetics. I’ve talked about the reliability question already, any car that is nearly four decades old will require a lot of maintenance and repairs today.

Was the Mondial 8 the poor performer that many articles state?

Performance, of course, gauged in two traditional areas: Handling and Acceleration.

Handling

From my readings of articles of the road tests of the Mondial 8, it seems unanimous that in the handling department, it was considered the best handling Ferrari of 1980.

I acknowledge this is ‘magazine racing’ and hearsay, as I do not own a Mondial 8. But for what it’s worth here we are:

..it must be icing on the cake for the Mondial owner to know that he has bought not just the most rational Ferrari design, but certainly the best handling one. And if that’s a surprise to you, it certainly was to us.

-MotorSport 1981

..every component in its make-up standing at alert ready to play its part in ensuring a balance and grip which mark this down as easily the best handling Ferrari.

-Wheels 1982

When it comes to getting around corners, the Mondial inspires confidence. the extra foot of wheelbase makes the car feel a good deal more stable than the shorter 308 in practically any operating situation-straight head at high speed, caning it around fast sweeper or scrambling in decreasing-radius sphincter-thighteners.

-MotorTrend 1981

The long wheelbase gives the Mondial a decisive advantage over the 308 in straight-ahead stability; …it turns with the poise of a dancer but only when you turn the wheel.

-Car 1981

Like other Ferraris, its road manners are impressive..In our skidpad evaluation, the car worked its way up to a delicate oversteering stance, one in which either power or liftoff would swing the rear end out gently. Maximum lateral acceleration was 0.812g, essentially identical to that of our last 308’s. We had no opportunity slalom the Mondial, but we’d estimate its performance be in the sam range as the 308’s 60.6 mph.”

-Road & Track 1981

No article had ever denigrated the Mondial’s handling prowess, but it is telling that they never mention it either when gearing up for the latest the ‘worse’ performer article of the week.

Acceleration

Now to the crux of our current discussion, (straight line performance)

There are only three formal instrumented tests I could find on the Mondial 8:

Road & Track
0-60 9.4
1/4 Mile 17.1

Car & Driver
0-60 9.3
1/4 Mile 16.9

MotorTrend
0-60 8.2
1/4 Mile 16.29

2

There are other articles out there, but they either cite one of these three formal tests or use ‘butt’ dyno to guesstimate.

I have stated that I don’t think 8.2 and 16.29 are as bad as articles make out to be if compared to the sports cars made in 1980 (sans 911) Below is a posting of comparable stats from other cars.

3

Either MotorTrend’s test is correct and every article denigrating straight line performance of the Mondial 8 is bullocks or the MotorTrend test is wrong (either intentionally or by mistake) and I accept that.

Again: Only one of three possibilities:
MotorTrend made a mistake
MotorTrend intentionally fudged numbers.
MotorTrend is correct.

The Mondial is a wink or two slower than the 308. The 2-seater will turn sub-16 second quarter miles, the Mondial in the low 16s; terminal speeds for that distance favor the 308 by 2 mph.
Source:
MotorTrend Road Test November 1981

1

I do want to point out though that the accolades on the handling were from some of the same publications that denigrated the straight line performance, so while I am open to the possibility that MotorTrends numbers are wrong, my viewpoints on the handling prowess are pretty firm.

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