Last month I got the pleasure to meet Dr. Ben Brown, a fellow Mondial owner at the Delta Dash. He runs the monthly Biscotti and Cars even in Sausalito. He was kind enough to volunteer to contribute to the site with his experiences on the Mondial. I hope you enjoy his write-up as much as I did.
1991 Ferrari Mondial t Cabriolet
– A long term user’s perspective-
By Dr. Ben Brown:
Following an 18-month investigation, I purchased my 1991 Ferrari Mondial t cabriolet (Chassis #89362) from The Toy Store in Fort Lauderdale, FL in November 1994. It was a very deliberate choice. The search was long as I wanted a Mondial t with a blue exterior and tan interior. I also wanted a mint condition Mondial t with a single plate clutch, Motronic 2.7 ECU,
Bosch electrics and knee bolsters on the dash which limited me to cars from 1990 or later. When I first saw the Mondial t in the showroom, I was struck by the elegant color combination of Chiaro Blu Metallizzato and Tan Interior.
The car had 12000 prior miles and underwent a pre-purchase inspection at Shelton Motorsports which it passed with flying colors and was mailed to me before I agreed to fly to Florida for a test drive. The car drove flawlessly so I purchased it and had it shipped to my residence in Portland Oregon by Horseless Carriage in time for a Christmas 1994 arrival.
I ordered a full set of five Schedoni tan leather suitcases for the Mondial, The large suitcase for the front trunk was obtainable only after I contacted Simone Schedoni in Modena. Over a number of subsequent years, I added many features to the car to enhance its usability on long road trips. These features included:
1. Tubi exhaust
2. Hyperflow catalytic converters
3. A custom stereo system designed to retain all existing space in
luggage compartments and rear quarter map pockets. The system had:
– Two Alpine PDX M6 amps under the driver and passenger seats
– ADS 320is front channel speaker (front of doors)
-Audio Illusion subwoofers (mid doors)
-Dynaudio rear channel speakers in custom enclosures (rear doors)
– Remote control mounted on steering column for Sony AM/FM/CD
4. Custom ebony wood panels replacing plastic panels surrounding switches in the center console
5. Pigskin suede covering for the top and face of instrument binnacle to
eliminate windshield reflections from the binnacle top
6. Larger Momo shift knob with custom tan leather insert
7. Custom brackets to hold two Leather CD holders (20 CDs each)
8. Custom snaps and velcro on Leather cover for convertible top
to increase attachment points from 6 to 20 points.
9. Custom Aluminum kick plates on leather door thresholds
10. K&N Air Filter
11. Clutch throw out bearing by Hill Engineering.
12. Carpeting for front trunk
13. Built in battery trickle charger
Between 1995 and 2013 my Mondial was driven on 25 round trips from Portland Oregon to Big Sur California. Driving the Big Sur Highway has always been my favorite drive. Each round trip was between 2100-2300 miles. The Mondial was also driven on one round trip from Portland to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole Wyoming. In addition the car was driven on many shorter car club driving events. Since moving to Sausalito California in 2013 the Mondial has been driven to Santa Barbara,
Mendocino and Big Sur, has gone on multiple driving events with the Ferrari Owner’s Group, the Wine Country Car Club and the Ferrari Club of America where the car completed the 2014 and 2015
Delta Das events. As of February 2015, my Mondial t has car has completed 74000 miles, The Mondial was also shown in display class at the 2014 Concorso Italiano in 2014, the 2014 Sausalito Classic Car Show and the 2013 Biscotti and Cars event in Sausalito.
Our Mondial remains our favorite long distance travel car, even though we also enjoy driving our 1987 Porsche Targa, 1970 Mercedes 280 SE 3.5 Coupe, 2003 Audi RS6, 2008 BMW 335i coupe and 2002 Subaru WRX.
The Mondial is exceptional due to the long wheelbase and mid-engine configuration but the car also has a very comfortable ride on smooth roads. The 3.4L V8 motor has excellent mid range power which is great in town. There is lots of luggage space, unlike many Ferraris. The sharply angled Mondial windshield allows air flow to pass above the heads
of driver and passenger without messing up anyone’s hair. I am always glad my pre-purchase investigation led me to pass up two other Ferraris which I was considering (a 512 BBi and a 330GTC) in favor of the Mondial t cab. The choice of the Mondial t cab made it possible to take 62000 miles of spirited, Ferrari driving trips in the open air with plenty of luggage. over the past 20 years. I was not looking to make a fast buck on appreciation but was looking for a car which would get driven a lot.
Well, Ferrari parts are extremely expensive and sometimes hard to find. The only major breakdown on our 10th long trip required leaving the car at Ferrari of SF for 3 months to replace a clutch shaft assembly and ring gear at a cost of over $10K. Fortunately we have not had another major breakdown. But replacing original AC hoses with leaky fittings and converting to R134A involved 15 hours or R&R labor though I saved over $1K by having a local hydraulic shop make a set
of AC hoses with better-than-original fittings. The AC works very well with R134A at $3/lb compared to $90/lb for the old R12. Obtaining a great mechanic (John Heim) at SF Motorsports in San Rafael was a very lucky find indeed.
Mondial t Precautions ?
The most important is driving very slowly over speed bumps which can scrape the underside between the front and rear wheels due to the long wheelbase. On a recent Wine Country Wine club tour, my Mondial was outrun by a Citroen 2CV on each of the many very bumpy, potholed laced,, unrepaired Sonoma country roads. The 2CV was designed with a high road clearance for awful French country roads. The Mondial was definitely not. I did manage to catch up whenever the roads improved. ON a twisty road, with a good surface, however, my Mondial t has managed to maintain the pace of at least one 458 behind me on one high speed driving event.
Before deciding on purchasing the Mondial t, I did a six-month literature search of American, British, German and Italian tests and still have a collection of literature (from Ferrarissima to Road and Track.) The following is what I gleaned from this reading:
A total of 1010 Mondial t Cabriolets (including LHD and RHD cars) were built from 1989 to 1993. The t designation referred to a major redesign with a longitudinal engine and transverse transmission which lowered the center of gravity by 5″ compared to the earlier transverse engine 3.2 Mondial. The engine in the t is the 3.4 Liter, 4 cam , 4 valve/cyl V8
with Bosch Motronic 2.7 ECU (after 1990) producing 300bhp at 7000rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, which is well suited to the strong mid range torque of the 3.4 engine. Disk brakes are ABS assisted. Suspension is manually adjustable by a console swiitch with soft, regular or hard settings. Test performance figures include top speed = 159 mph, 0 -60 time = 6.2 sec, highway mileage = 24 mpg. The t model has front and rear trunks. with a long-wheelbase, mid-engine configuration. Wheels are aluminum alloy:F: 7×16″.and R 8.5×16″. Empty curb weight is 3452 lbs.
Mondial drives to Mendocino, Santa Barbara , Concorso
Italiano and the FCA National Meet in Monterey this year. Forza Ferrari.
Ben Maurice Brown MD