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Ferrari Mondial

Ferrari Mondial Published: 7th Sep 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Mondial QV
  • Worst model: Iffy left hand drive cars
  • Budget buy: Early pre–’83 cars
  • OK for unleaded?: Yes
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4534 x W1808 mm
  • Spares situation: Seems okay, if dear
  • Club support: Typical Ferrari
  • Appreciating asset?: We reckon so in time
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Yes, much underrated
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You may be perfectly content with your TR6… but hasn’t everybody at some point wished they could own a supercar classic for practically the same money – something like a supercar classic Ferrari perhaps?

Pros & Cons

Value, famous badge, 2+2 format, driving appeal, classy cabrio
Lacklustre 8v models, many ratty ones around, will be dear to run properly and restoration may outstrip its value
£7500-£23,000

Well, according to Ferrari specialist Mike Wheeler of Rardley Motors, it’s a question that he is being asked more often, as enthusiasts cotton on to the fact that, for the price of a typical British classic, they can have an exotic Italian on their driveway.

However, 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 today’s 360! As the fi rst step into Ferrari ownership, this oddball mid-engined 2+2 makes great sense, as well as being one of the few exotics that’s genuinely family friendly.

In Ferrari terms they are cheap to buy, and with sensible use and budgeting aren’t ruinously expensive to keep, either. And, of course, no matter what anybody says, it’s a Ferrari – your Ferrari – on the driveway!

History

Four-seat Ferraris aren’t new and the Mondial (a famous name given to a Ferrari racing engine of the 1950s, if you didn’t know) was the successor to the 2+2 308 GT4 of the early 1970s, and used a lot of its make up. The chief differences concerned a tubular spaceframe chassis, and not monocoque build, utilising separate subframes for the running gear (said to – ahem, ease servicing!) and a wheelbase extended by 100mm. Pininfarina gave the car its fl owing style, in stark contrast to the sharp-styled GT4 that was penned by Bertone.

Launched in 1980, reactions to the Mondial were decidedly mixed. The influential Car magazine was full of positives citing “Porsche-like build quality” and “Dynamic ability” but over the pond Motor Trend bemoaned a serious lack of pace (0-60 in eight seconds and 130+mph). “The Mondial 8 will barely get out of its own way”, the magazine moaned, and certainly the 3-litre V8 (carried over from the 308), with its 214bhp, was barely adequate for such supercar status.

Two years later calls for more prancing horses were answered by the Quattrovalvole engine. The 32 valves raised the game to a far more respectable 240bhp and 191lbft of torque (previously it was 176lbft) at a heady 5000rpm. Car called the ‘QV’ as it became known a “fully fledged Ferrari” while the late lamented Motor hailed the new engine, which sliced two seconds of the hallowed 0-60 time to six seconds, as “a miracle cure” to the middling Mondial.

For 1984 an attractive cabriolet joined the range and was the company’s fi rst new rag top since the Daytona. Sales of the Mondial were, by Ferrari standards, strong, and so it upped the ante in ’85 with a 3.2-litre V8, as seen in the 328 GTB/GTS, for a rousing 270bhp. A facelift incorporating body coloured bumpers and the welcome fi tment of anti-lock brakes occurred in 1987 – but the best was yet to come.

It was called the Mondial T and was almost a new car. The 300bhp 3.4-litre V8 (taken from the 348 range with dry sump lubrication, Bosch fuel injection and twin computer management) was now mounted longitudinally, although the transmission remained transverse (a design fi rst seen in the Ferrari 312T F1 car back in 1975).

Suspension was now electronically controlled and there was also the option of Valeo semi-automatic transmission. The interior became plusher, with a new dash and better trim, but as a result this 160mph family Ferrari moved further upmarket, and quite a long way from its entry level status.

The Mondial survived until the mid-1990s, after nearly 7000 were built, and the basic underpinnings served Ferrari well – right up to the exalted 360 as we mentioned earlier.

Driving

Whether or not the Mondial is the Ferrari for you depends upon what you believe about its reputation. To many it’s a Maranello mis-fi t, but if you read the road tests of that time, then it was one of the best Ferraris yet. As ever, the truth lies somewhere in between. True, performance on the 8v cars was nothing special when new and, today, a good V6 Mondeo will beat a Mondial, especially if age has taken its toll on the engine – as it has on many. But the pleasure comes as much not from what the car does but the way that it does it, and the noise and the passion of this V8 will be enough for many of us. The 32-valver is notably quicker and has more torque, while the 3.2 and 3.4 can wear the famous badge with distinction. It really depends upon what you want from the car, but on any don’t expect much more than 20mpg – and a lot less if wear and skipped maintenance has taken its inevitable toll.

If the Ferrari’s performance is open to question, then the handling is more universally commended. Even on relatively skinny tyres, compared to today’s gumballs, the Mondial was praised for its sensitivity and user friendliness – and far less twitchiness than the shorter-wheelbased GT4 – although the earlier 2+2 is usually regarded as a more purist cross-country car.

A good Mondial makes a far better fi st as a cruiser; for a mid-ship supercar wind and road noise is remarkably contained and the wail of the V8 is hardly a hardship even at 7000rpm. The ride is uncommonly decent, too. Small wonder that “stirring but civilised” was Car’s conclusion of the Mondial 25 years ago.

Like all supercars, the Mondial takes time and effort to get to know, and to learn how to drive effectively, although the snatchy overassisted brakes will probably keep catching you out after a spell at the wheel of a modern! Remember this is a Ferrari for families and the rear seats are easily bearable for most offspring, if not fully-grown adults. It’s appreciably roomier than the GT4, although storage space is minimal and the boot little more than adequate for four. But – like everything else about the Mondial – it suffices!

Prices

When the QV was launched a quarter of a century ago it carried a £25,581 price tag. A considerable sum back then (in 2008 it will get you a brand new top level Ford Mondeo of similar pace!) but today you can pick one up for under ten grand. Whether you want to, or should do, is another matter. It’s far better to spend as much as you can on a top one; around £13,000 seems a good datum for a QV, although top T models can go for over £20k. But considering the badge and brio that’s still indecent value, we reckon. 

What To Look For

  • While Mondials look great value, remember they still need the maintenance and care that’s in tune with their prices when new. Mondials are hardly the most loved Ferrari and you will come across a fair few tired examples that are anything but bargains under the skin.
  • Before you even start hunting around, check the paperwork and see that there’s some level of service history, especially on the newer models. It’s well worthwhile having a computer data check carried out to verify its past and whether it’s been in a prang, stolen recovered or has finance still outstanding on it (not unknowns especially if it’s been unreliable).
  • Vetting a Mondial is harder than your average Mondeo, so if you reckon that it’s beyond your capabilities then enlist an expert, preferably a well-known specialist. Failing this the owners club, based in King’s Lynn, will help you. Click on http://www.ferrariownersclub.co.uk for assistance.
  • As we always advise with any performance classic, you mustn’t jump at the fi rst one you see. Vet a few and drive as many as possible to set a datum. These cars can vary in standards, but unless you have a level to work from, you may end up buying a shed which to you will still feel wonderful.
  • The chassis must be the first port of call. Look for corrosion on the – admittedly sturdy – chassis that was galvanised from the early 80s. Cast an eagle eye for patch repairs and don’t be afraid to have a prod around. Just as importantly, watch for kinks and patch ups signifying previous accident damage (odd tyre wear is another pointer to the latter).
  • Rusty Mondials are not unknown. Check the front wings (especially by the windscreen), door bottoms (usually blocked drain holes) arches, boot bonnet etc. See that the headlamps pop up and down properly; wonky ones suggest a frontal clout at some point in the past.
  • Check the floor and bulkheads for damp and resultant corrosion – especially on the cabriolets of course – and check the inner wings for creasing (accident damage) and rot. Generally, though, the Mondial is on par with any other 20+ year old exotic classic, according to Mike Wheeler of Rardley Motors in Surrey (01428 606606).
  • Most UK Mondials were rightly Rosso red, but others were silver or dark blue. Only a handful came in white. Any other colour suggests a full respray. LHD cars are common, but not everybody likes left hookers – or can drive them – so check the offside front for damage and perhaps new suspension and brake parts.
  • Mondial was the first Ferrari design where the entire power train and rear suspension assemblies were mounted on a detachable steel subframe (check for rust) to enable easier maintenance, although dropping it is still a major job at home.
  • The engine is quite robust if serviced properly, although many Mondials won’t have had that luxury. The most important thing is to see that the timing belts have been replaced on time. Every 30,000 miles and no later is recommended. Make no mistake, this is a massive job, costing around £1500 depending upon model and who does the job. But, skip this outlay at your peril because a snapped belt will wreck the engine, costing a lot more. And entrust it only to Ferrari experts – it’s not as simple as a Mondeo’s.
  • Ditto valve clearance settings, which aren’t for the novice. If the engine has to be dropped then it’s best to tackle these jobs, plus replace any suspect hoses and so on at the same time.
  • With the engine hot and running, look for smoke. A light mist is normal but blue signifi es bore wear, while a whitish fog suggests a head gasket is on the way out. Either of these faults will prove expensive to fi x, but overall the V8 is a toughie if cared for.
  • The car always ran on fuel injection, mechanical Bosch K-Jetronic initially, switching over to the German’s Motronic DME on the last of the line 3.4s. Ignition is mainly Marelli. In general all are reliable enough and any problems may be due to lack of maintenance, so check the hoses and connections for deterioration and any bodges.
  • All gearboxes suffer from the usual Ferrari trait of being cantankerous when cold, but selecting second shouldn’t be a problem once the oil has warmed up. Clutch wear is no worse than on any other supercar but you can expect a hard life and it is not a DIY job either.
  • Suspensions pose few inherent problems; just look for the usual deterioration of the springs, shockers and bushes, particularly the front wishbone ones.
  • As on all sophisticated performance cars, the suspension’s geometry is not something the typical fast-fi t can handle, so seek out a specialist. From new the Mondial used Koni dampers – has a lesser make been fi tted over the years to save money?
  • Brakes really only suffer from seizure due to lack of miles, so see that the car pulls up straight and true. Handbrakes were never that effective and they need careful setting up to work properly and pass the MoT.
  • It’s an old Italian classic, so expect some quirky electrics at some point! Chief concern is the fuse box, which can suffer from poor/rusty connections, although some owners reckon it’s overworked so you’d might like to upgrade – speak to a specialist about this.
  • Look for dodgy switches and connections both to the main light switch and the hazard fl ashers. These switches can be carefully dismantled and cleaned up, however, if you have the patience. Electric windows are notoriously slow, but some owners reckon that wiring them directly to the battery can speed things up although we’d fi t an in-line fuse for safety’s sake.
  • Is the battery okay? It may sound a minor point but getting to the box of sparks is a real hassle, involving removing the offside front wheel and inner arch to gain access.
  • If you’re buying a cabrio then check the hood carefully as it’s a big old tent and replacements cost megga money. Always lower and erect it yourself, as the frames can be problematic.
  • Some cars ran on metric-sized rims, which hinders replacements. On the 8v model, Hertsbased Superformance (01992 445300) now offers a 7x 16 inch rim to fi t imperial sized tyres. It also offers a meatier 310mm front disc conversion too.
  • Finally, can you run one on a Mondeo budget? The realistic answer is no; Rardley Motors reckons on spending around £2000 a year even on a lightly used classic. Running one like a new Ferrari will be a pipe dream, but you can do it okay on an average wage by diligent DIY when you can, plus there are plenty of specialists and breakers who can help contain costs.

Three Of A Kind

Porsche 928
Porsche 928
Designed to replace the 911, the V8 928 was too fat and lazy to take its place but as a 2+2 GT it’s one of the very best. Beautifully built and everlasting, there are plenty of good ones around at attractive prices while scrappy ones sell for pounds. Just don’t get caught in between or it will cost you. Best model is the rare-spotted GTS with manual ‘box. Most 928s are autos and no cabrios were offi cially made.
Jaguar XK8
Jaguar XK8
Another high class bargain has to be the Jaguar XK8. Like the Mondial, it’s a civilised V8 supercar that rarely disappoints and is currently really well priced. The lack of a manual transmission may irk some, but the J-gate auto is a good substitute and, like all Jags, the car is well appointed, swift (XKRs are heroically fast) and smooth. Lots around so prices will remain keen for ages so avoid cheap, tatty ones.
Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin Virage
Like the Mondial, the Aston Martin Virage is hardly the stuff dreams are made of, and its image as well as its values has suffered as a result. It was developed in just two years and it showed, both in quality and dynamics. But a good one – and they are around – makes a cracking mile-eater and that trusty V8 has go to spare. Again, low values mean penny-pinching ownership and there are lots to go wrong! Is DB7 better bet?

Verdict

We reckon that the Mondial is much misunderstood and has a lot to offer anybody after a ‘cheap’ Ferrari that all the family can enjoy. It may not be the most evocative of models Enzo ever turned out, but it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be either. Just try one: the danger isn’t that you’ll be disappointed once behind the wheel, but rather what you’ll fi nd, as there are a fair few ropy and badly maintained ones out there, at prices tempting enough to take that chance. Don’t fall for them and instead buy the best you can. Then you’ll have a car that Road & Track hailed “the most useful car out of Maranello”.



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