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Ferrari Mondial v 400/412

Your first Ferrari Published: 14th Feb 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ferrari Mondial v 400/412

What The Experts Say...

It’s the sort of question Mike Wheeler of Rardley Motors is regularly asked and he says you must take each 400 and Mondial on their own merits. “People are saying to me I can have a Ferrari for MGB money but you get what you pay for,” warns the Surrey specialist. “But at the end of the day they are Ferraris.”

Ferrari Mondial v 400/412
Ferrari Mondial v 400/412
Ferrari Mondial v 400/412
Ferrari Mondial v 400/412
Ferrari Mondial v 400/412
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Yes you can afford a Ferrari although it may not be the pick of the bunch. But who cares at these prices?Yes you can afford a Ferrari although it may not be the pick of the bunch. But who cares at these prices?

Ok, so you may be perfectly content with your Triumph TR6 but hasn’t everybody at some point wished they could own a supercar classic for practically the same money – something like a Ferrari perhaps? No it’s not a pipe dream, there are affordable ‘fi rst’ Ferraris out there which by buying right will not lead you down the road to ruin or even up the garden path. Take this unpopular pair, the V12 400 and the V8 Mondial. With their temptingly keen screen prices they could be the perfect fi rst step on up the Ferrari ownership ladder that you may not want to get off. Plus being 2+2s they are almost practical…

WHICH ONE TO BUY?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Both 2+2s, the big difference likes on where the engine is situated. The 365/400/412 has it up front, in the mould of other classic Prancing Horses such as the 330, Daytona and so on, while the Mondial kept the mid-engined theme first shown with the ovely Dino yet cleverly made it a family-sized 2+2.

In terms of appearance the V12 looks like a traditional GT Ferrari; far more square cut than a 365GTB but just as imposing if not eye-catching. The Mondial, given its naturally stretched look, is still well proportioned and roomier than the square-cut Dino 308GT4.

The 400/412 is a clever development of the earlier 365/GT4 which was fi rst launched in 1972 and replaced the GTC/4 with a six inch longer wheelbase. The Pininfarina body was as long as a Jag XJ6 but the basic style stayed similar for well over 20 years, evolving into the 400 and then 412. A more powerful version of the famous 365 GT4 2+2, grown to 4.8-litres and just under 350bhp, the 400 GT brought the development of the high performance, big displacement frontengined 2+2 coupé to new levels – that was until the engine went to a full fat fi velitres for the last of the line 412.
Greater attention was also paid to interior detailing and this was also the very first Ferrari to be offered with an optional three-speed General Motors autobox to meet the demands of the US market. In 1979 it was joined by the GTI version complete with new Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection to comply with US exhaust emission standards, and boasted better torque. With around 350 made for the UK, most autos there’s a fair few around to be rightly choosy over. The Mondial was unveiled at the 1980 Geneva Salon and very much the spiritual successor to the 308 GT4. The Mondial 8 featured a 10cm longer wheelbase (more space to the back seats), better anti-corrosion treatment and a more ergonomic interior. A year later, the QV (Quattro Valvole, or four valves), was launched, with a more ‘revvy’ and powerful engine that helped underline the car’s sporting nature where previously its 214 horses (carried over from the 308) were deemed lame.

When the engine was enlarged to 3.2-litres a much more like it 270bhp was offered while the 3.4-litre, taken from the 348 range, saw 300bhp. If you’re after a cabriolet then only the Mondial provides it. Launched in 1984, Pininfarina managed to give the canvas top the same line as the coupe, and this clever folding mechanism allowed the hood to fold away neatly behind the seats. Despite the absence of a roll-bar, the lack of a roof was compensated by the strong tubular chassis to which the aluminium body panels were welded to reduce scuttle shake. Almost 7000 Mondials were made with 350 officially imported here.

WHAT’S THE BEST TO DRIVE?

MARANELLO MIS-FITS?

The way people talk about Mondials you’d think that Ferrari had made a Reliant Robin. Underpowered, wooden, you’d never guess that the chassis served Ferrari right up to the 360. Agreed, the 8v is more Mondeo pace than Ferrari (especially if off-tune) but there’s nothing shabby about the 3.2 and 3.4 models and the 32-valver can wear the Ferrari badge with pride, too.
Thanks to a longer wheelbase over the earlier GT4, the Mondial is not as twitchy although it still demands mid-engined respect. However the ride is more than agreeable and with low noise levels the Mondial is good at touring even if space in the back is cramped. Mondial works well as a cabrio as the handling hardly suffers and looks good with the hood up or down. No wonder American Road & Track hailed ths Ferrari as “the most useful car out of Maranello”.

With its big V12 up front and traditional layout you’d expect the 400/412i to be a Gran Turismo yet it handles like a sports car and thanks to its Koni suspension, is far tauter than, say, a Jag XJ-S even if the steering lock is poor. The engine is a 24 carat V12 gem as you’d expect from Ferrari although how many will still hit 60 in under seven seconds and truck on to a claimed 147mph is open to debate as it’s a specialist engine that needs expert care.
Also a the vast majority came with a General Motors-sourced three-speed automatic which while smooth and made the most of the 333lbft (minimum) of torque afforded by the V12, still took the edge of the performance – albeit slightly. And it has to be admitted that shelf-shifting suits this Ferrari’s touring credentials better than you’d expect but the 412 GT (manual) where 24 UK cars were made, remains the driver’s choice. Maranello’s mis-judged mis-fits? Mis-judged certainly – mis-fits never but of the pair the Mondial is the easier and sportier car to live with and drive.

OWNING AND RUNNING

CHEAP AT THE PRICE?

Of course the perennial problem with buying old supercars is that while the prices may be cheap their running costs won’t be and these cheap Ferraris are no exception.

Specialists keep the lid on things but don’t buy expecting to run it on a shoestring either; neglect will only lead to bigger, pricier problems ahead and there’s a good many of these fickle Ferraris around ready to take you for an expensive ride because of this. Yes you can pick a 400 up for under £20,000 with the earlier 365s having a slight premium but buy with caution. Projects start from under 10 grand but only the brave or foolish takes one on. You can have an average Ferrari Mondial, especially a Mondial 8, sitting on your driveway for anything between £8000 to £12,000. A very good QV version or the later ‘T’ model with low mileage, can be found for £20,000 with projects from £7000. Mondials will always be cheaper to maintain out of this pair but some jobs, like cambelt and clutch changes, require the engine to come out – bank on £1500 for belt changes alone!

Rust and rouge electrics are legion on any old Ferrari but the mechanics can be quite robust if looked after – some parts being glorified Fiat parts in a fancier box, but try to run one on a shoestring and that’s when the big bills start to roll in. Lack of use is another killer. It’s yours so enjoy it!

And The Winner Is...

Common sense – if you can use that phrase when talking owning a Ferrari – dictates that you should go for the Mondial. For starters they can be bought for Mondeo money while the V8 will be cheaper to run and maintain than the V12 but not by much. Really it all depends on what you want from your Prancing Horse; Mondial is the sports while the 400 is a GT in the Aston mould. Both make good starter Ferraris… if you buy right.



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