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 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.