Six Reasons Why the Ferrari Mondial Doesn't Deserve All the Hate

Ferrari Mondial 20 photos
Photo: Ferrari
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If I had a penny for every time the Ferrari Mondial has been called mediocre and underpowered, I'd have enough money to buy one in Concours condition. And I'm not even kidding. The Mondial gets more hate than any other Ferrari and it's been included at the top of every "worst Ferrari ever build" list out there. But does it deserve all the hate?
The Mondial was introduced in 1980 and it got a lot of bad press for being significantly less powerful than other Ferraris of the era. Many also complained about its mundane looks and the fact that it was notably more expensive than the 308 GTB didn't help its case. Even though Ferrari acted quickly and fixed some of its issues, the Mondial remained a target of negative perceptions to this day. Here's why this has to stop.

It wasn't all that bad for the era

I often compare the Ferrari Mondial to the second-generation Ford Mustang. Pony car enthusiasts hate the second-gen Mustang for being slow and ugly, but they often forget that it wasn't all that bad for the era. The same goes for the Mondial, which arrived at a time when Ferrari had to cope with new and tougher emission and safety standards. Both of which affected the car's looks and performance.

The Mondial debuted with a 3.0-liter V8 engine rated at 214 horsepower. Far from impressive given that Ferraris from the 1960s came with more than 300 horsepower on tap, but the Mondial was only marginally less powerful than the 237-horsepower 308 GTB. What's more, it wasn't even the less potent Ferrari out there. The 208 GTB, also introduced in 1980, came with a 2.0-liter V8 good for only 153 horsepower.

Ferrari Mondial
Photo: Ferrari
The Mondial was almost on par with Italian competitors from the era. The Lamborghini Urraco, discontinued in 1979, delivered 247 horses from a 3.0-liter V8. Likewise, the V6-powered Maserati Merak SS came with 217 horses on tap in 1980. The non-Turbo Porsche 911s of the early 1980s weren't more powerful than the Mondial, with the range-topping version generating 201 horsepower.

It wasn't designed to be a world-beating supercar

Many complain about the Mondial not being as powerful and fast as other naturally aspirated Ferraris from the 1980s. But it wasn't even supposed to be. The Maranello-based firm designed the Mondial as an entry-level GT with greater dimensions to accommodate rear passengers.

It was consequently heavier than the company's two-seater sports cars and the lower price meant that it couldn't get the big V12 in the 400i. But it was an authentic GT and provided enhanced comfort compared to the V8-powered two-seaters. All with a weight penalty of only 200 pounds (91 kg) vs. the 308 Quattrovalvole.

Ferrari Mondial
Photo: Ferrari

The convertible version is as unique as they get

When it was discontinued in 1993, the Mondial went into the history books as Ferrari's final 2+2 mid-engined car. While this layout had been pioneered by the 308 GT4 in the 1970s, Ferrari also built a cabriolet version of the Mondial. Basically the only drop-top grand tourer with a midship configuration out there. And Ferrari sold thousands of them.

The Mondial 3.2 and t were actually good

The original Mondial 8 might have been underpowered and slow, but Ferrari reacted to the negative reviews and upgraded the powertrain almost immediately. In 1982, the Quattrovalvole debuted with a revised V8 good for 240 horsepower.

And power figures continued to go up from there. The Mondial 3.2 arrived in 1985 with a 266-horsepower, 3.2-liter V8, while the Mondial t upped the ante in 1988 with a larger, 3.4-liter mill rated at 300 horsepower.

Ferrari Mondial
Photo: Ferrari
As a result, the Mondial's 0-to-60 mph (97 kph) sprints dropped from 8.2 seconds in 1981 to 5.6 clicks in 1992. What many haters won't tell you is that the Mondial t was just a second slower than most supercars of the early 1990s.

It was a sales success

Just like the Mustang II, the Mondial was rejected by purists, but it brought many new customers to the brand. In its 13 years on the market, the Mondial moved 6,149 units, a figure that makes it one of the best-selling Ferraris of all time. The unique cabriolet version had a significant contribution to this number, with almost 2,500 examples delivered from 1983 to 1993.

Its predecessor, the 308 GT4, was built in only 2,826 units from 1973 to 1980. On the other hand, Ferrari sold some 7,000 examples of the 308 and 208 two-seaters in the 1980s, but the two-seater was rather popular due to its slightly sportier appearance.

Ferrari Mondial
Photo: Ferrari

It's an affordable classic

Most Ferrari classics are painfully expensive, with models from the 1960 and 1970s now changing hands for more than $500,000 in Concours condition. And quite a few of them go for millions of dollars. Some Ferraris from the 1970s and 1980s fetch significantly less than that, but none is as affordable as a Mondial. It's a feat that comes with all the hate and negative press surrounding this nameplate.

Prices vary depending on model year and specifications. An early Mondial in good condition will set you back a little more than $23,000, while a mint-condition example will cost around $35,000. A Quattrovalvole variant is only a tad more expensive.

The Mondial t is the priciest iteration, with units in good condition costing as much as $34,000. Concours-ready examples go for as much as $50,000.

Ferrari Mondial
Photo: Ferrari
The good news is that there are quite a few of them listed for sale, with plenty of low-mileage units to choose from. If you're looking for an entry point into the classic Ferrari collectors club, the Mondial is your best bet.

Yes, many will mock you for driving the slowest Ferrari of the 1980s, but these cars have an authentic Prancing Horse badge on the hood and quite a few strengths to brag about. When in doubt, remember that the Mondial t is only a second slower than the Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary from 0 to 60 mph (97 kph).
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About the author: Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea profile photo

Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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