Comfortable Performance

The Mondial combines 308/328/348 V8 power with a more relaxed attitude.

Photo: Comfortable Performance 1
April 18, 2024

While neither as fast nor stylish as their two-seat contemporaries, Ferrari’s 2+2 models deliver a more refined and comfortable driving experience. Early examples of the genre featured V12 engines, but that changed in 1973, when the company unveiled the Bertone-styled 308 GT4. The GT4 also featured Ferrari’s first eight-cylinder road-car engine, and from there Maranello’s “small” lineup took off.

For its next V8-powered 2+2, Ferrari stretched the GT4’s wheelbase by four inches to allow for more rear legroom and turned over design duties to Pininfarina. The result was the Mondial 8, named in honor of the 500 Mondial sports-racer of the 1950s.

The new Ferrari debuted at the 1980 Geneva Auto Show. Period press reviews praised the car’s looks, interior space, and comfort, but its anemic performance—it delivered just 205 ponies in U.S. trim and weighed around 450 pounds more than the 308 with which it shared a V8—produced little enthusiasm.

Maranello remedied the power deficiency in mid-1982, with the launch of the Mondial QV. Now powered by the 235-hp four-valve V8 from the 308 Quattrovalvole and sporting a lower final drive ratio, the car felt more like a proper Prancing Horse. The interior also received a slight freshening, but the biggest news came in January ’84, when Ferrari unveiled a Cabriolet version, its first-ever four-seat convertible.

The model improved further in early 1985 with the debut of the 260-hp 328-powered Mondial 3.2. The newest Mondial also received a full exterior update, with a 328-style fascia, color-coded bumpers, and wheels. In ’88, the 3.2 became the first U.S.-spec Ferrari equipped with anti-lock brakes.

Photo: Comfortable Performance 2

If the Mondial QV and 3.2 were straightforward updates of the original 8, the 1989 Mondial t was more of a rethink. Although its exterior remained mostly unchanged, the t’s interior was all new and much more modern looking; it even offered fold-down rear seats. More significant, the t received the 348’s 300-hp longitudinally mounted engine and transverse gearbox, along with Ferrari’s first power-assisted steering and electrically adjustable shock absorbers.

Another first arrived for 1993, the final year of Mondial production, when Ferrari introduced the optional Valeo semi-automatic transmission. The Valeo setup retained the classic gated shifter but eliminated the clutch pedal—a precursor to the paddleshifters that would arrive later in the decade. Unlike those paddleshifters, the Valeo transmission would remain an anomaly; it’s thought that fewer than 100 cars were so equipped.

Although the Mondial quickly evolved into a excellent car, it never attracted the attention or carried the cachet of Ferrari’s sports cars. For that reason, these are some of the least expensive Ferraris you can buy. For enthusiasts who want a more comfortable and spacious sports car, this low cost of entry only makes the Mondial more appealing.


When new, the Mondial 8 was snapped up by buyers who had small children or wanted more rear-seat storage space. Despite being seen as underpowered even at the time, Ferrari sold 703 examples between 1980 and ’82—a sales success for what was then a very small manufacturer.

Sales climbed as the model evolved through three additional versions over the next 11 years. From 1982 to ’85, Ferrari built 1,145 Mondial QV coupes and 629 Cabriolets. Production of the 1985-89 3.2 fell to 987 coupes and 810 Cabs, but climbed again with the significantly faster 1989-93 Mondial t, with 858 coupes and 1,017 Cabs built.

Photo: Comfortable Performance 3

Today, the earlier Mondials serve as a low-cost, entry-level Ferrari for the same enthusiasts who bought them when new. Buyers need to exercise caution, however, as yesterday’s brand-new Ferrari has, during the intervening decades, turned into today’s middle-aged Ferrari. Even the newest Mondial t is now 31 years old, so stacks of older service invoices should be considered mandatory, as should a very detailed pre-purchase inspection by an expert Ferrari mechanic.

While inexpensive to buy, Mondials aren’t cheap to maintain or repair. The twice-a-decade cam-belt service, described in The Garage section, starts at about $7,500. Fuse and relay panels are common, and, because of Ferrari’s generous use of leather, replacing a worn-out or sun-baked interior will be an upper-four or lower-five-figure investment.

The good news is that a well-sorted Mondial offers pride of Ferrari ownership, decent performance, excellent handling, a roomy interior with space for small kids or extra luggage, and the wonderful sound of a Ferrari V8 at full song. In addition, since we last ran a Mondial Buyer’s Guide in the May 2016 issue, the rising tide of inflation has lifted the prices of these cars by roughly 50 percent (or more), bringing their value more in line with their running costs. Just be aware that sales prices can vary wildly (both higher and lower) based on mileage, color, service records, and the number of previous owners. —Michael Sheehan

Model Low High
Mondial 8 $25,000 $30,000
Mondial QV $35,000 $45,000
Mondial QV Cab $40,000 $50,000
Mondial 3.2 $40,000 $50,000
Mondial 3.2 Cab $40,000 $50,000
Mondial t $40,000 $50,000
Mondial t Cab $50,000 $70,000

These prices are for nicely optioned, well documented,
and fully serviced cars in good to great condition as of April 2024.

The Garage

Mondials tend to have two major problems: deferred maintenance, which can be resolved by writing big checks, and electrical gremlins, which can be a recurring nightmare. I’ve always recommended buying the newest, best-maintained example your budget can justify (and then only after getting a detailed pre-purchase inspection by an expert) simply because buying a “bargain” Ferrari is almost always a false economy. Paying less up front typically translates into paying more in the future, due to previous owners’ cutting corners on, or completely ignoring, required maintenance and repairs.

Photo: Comfortable Performance 4

Deferred maintenance can rear its ugly head in all areas of a Mondial. As but one example, given these cars’ age, every original suspension bushing, rubber hose, heater valve, gasket, and seal is long past its expiration date. All Mondials have a drop-out rear engine cradle, and when the time comes for the dreaded cam-belt service, it’s best to remove the engine and transaxle entirely. This allows the mechanic to easily access and replace items like heater and radiator hoses, front and rear main seals, transfer gear seals, and all the other things most owners don’t think about. While this preventive maintenance does add to the total bill, the additional expense is miniscule compared to the cost of having to pull the engine just to replace one of those minor components if it fails!

It may never be possible to fully exorcise the Mondials’ electrical gremlins. This Ferrari features electrical releases for the front and rear luggage compartments, the engine cover, glove box, and fuel-filler door. In addition, all Mondials (except the t) have a warning light display called the Check Control System that monitors oil levels in the engine and transmission, the engine-coolant level, the washer-fluid level, the braking system, brake and external lights, the air conditioner, and more. To be kind, these controls have suffered from component-quality issues since new, and have been a regular and ongoing source of problems (and owner complaints) ever since.

While on the topic of electrical issues, the Mondial fuse and relay board is inadequate to handle the electrical load needed to run all the car’s systems at the same time. In the worst case, getting stuck in slow traffic with the radiator fans running, the headlights on, and the a/c chugging away will almost guarantee a meltdown. GT Car Parts in Phoenix will rebuild the standard board if it fails, while Scuderia Rampante in Colorado offers a (more expensive) all-new replacement board.

The Mondial shares its engine with the then-current 308 or 348, so suffers from the same issues. Most problems—such as the early two-valve V8’s fragile exhaust valve stems, the 3.2-liter V8’s excessive oil pressure at startup, and the 3.4-liter’s weak Denso alternator—will probably have been addressed decades ago; these issues and others were topics of various Technical Service Bulletins. Still, it’s worth looking through the car’s service records to make sure.

The most significant issue you’re likely to encounter today is that early Mondial t’s can suffer from excessive chain tensioner wear (the lower drive system should be inspected whenever the engine is removed), along with a problematic inner support bearing for the cam-drive jack shaft.

Photo: Comfortable Performance 5

The Mondial t also bears the dubious honor of being one of the first Ferraris to suffer from the infamous, and messy, “sticky switches” problem. Luckily, a few companies, most famously Sticky No More, have arisen to refinish these interior pieces.

Finally, the various Mondial Cabriolets feature a finicky soft top. While it’s not physically difficult to raise or lower these manual tops, the process does require care, patience, and walking around to both sides to the car (or recruiting a passenger for assistance). —Michael Sheehan

On The Road

It may favor comfort over outright speed, but the Mondial drives like a real Ferrari. Here’s some of what we’ve said about the model over the years.

“A Ferrari Within Reach,” FORZA #41

I had been fortunate enough to drive the Mondial 8 shortly after its launch. To say the experience was underwhelming is an understatement. The cars were s-l-o-w, and the steering was ponderous, especially at low speeds.

It became clear within minutes that the 3.2 was an entirely different breed of Prancing Horse from the Mondial 8. While still a bit heavy at a dead stop, the 3.2’s steering immediately lightens once you start moving. It was also more communicative than that of the earlier cars, making the 3.2 more rewarding to drive.

Photo: Comfortable Performance 6

And be assured this is a “rewarding drive.” The long wheelbase dishes out a compliant ride at any speed. Handling is superb and the car feels very controllable as you pitch it into a turn. The steering and suspension give good feedback, with minor body roll coming to the fore only at prodigious speeds.

The engine is tractable and dishes out good thrills once the Mondial is up and rolling. Acceleration in first and second is decent, and when you whack the lever into third and keep the pedal planted to the metal, the elasticity of that never-ending pull will put a smile on your face. From 4,500 rpm on up, the 3.2 is all Ferrari, the surge above 6,500 being strongest. Shift into fourth, mash the throttle, and the acceleration continues unabated.

“Double Duty,” FORZA #75

Accelerating hard down a short straight, there’s no doubt the Mondial t is good for all of its 300 horsepower; it feels considerably quicker than its 270-hp 3.2-liter predecessor. The four-cam V8 spins quickly through the rev range with a hard-edged metallic howl, and the hefty mid-range shove gets progressively stronger as the engine shrieks towards redline.

The Ferrari sails back and forth through a series of medium-speed bends in a reassuringly neutral fashion. Turn-in is keen, with a minimum amount of speed-scrubbing understeer to spoil the fun. The light steering makes it easy to position the Mondial on the road. While period purists no doubt looked aghast at the power assist, Ferrari’s engineers did a great job of retaining steering feel and weighting in their quest for improved ease of use.

The t’s lower center of gravity pays dividends when it comes to handling. It feels more hunkered down than earlier Mondials (although not as much as the more sporting 348) and is easier to drive fast and get into a satisfying rhythm. However, there is considerable body roll when the shocks are set to their soft setting. Hitting the button with the two little shock-absorber icons stiffens the suspension enough to inject more confidence into the equation, though it doesn’t completely transform the Mondial’s touring-oriented behavior.

Also from Issue 214

  • Creating the SF90 XX
  • 599 GTB Fiorano
  • Breadvan Hommage
  • Tifosi: All Things Italian
  • Photographer Neill Bruce interview
  • F1: Smooth Operation
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