Nightmare Garage: Ferrari Mondial 8

Ferrari Mondial Front

Photos from topspeed.com

I absolutely love writing the articles that comprise the Dream Garage feature: they are the cars I will buy once I achieve my chosen profession of Eccentric Billionaire, and I simply list them to remind myself what to purchase once I hit that milestone. But as there are two sides to any coin, there must be an inverse to the Dream Garage, and “Cars Regurgitated From the Fiery Depths of Hell,” while certainly more descriptive, is more unwieldy than “Nightmare Garage.” It is with the Ferrari Mondial 8, arguably the worst Ferrari ever made, that we christen the Nightmare Garage.

There have been less powerful Ferraris, of course. The 208 GTB very nearly had a spot in the Nightmare Garage for the simple fact that at 155hp, it is the least powerful Ferrari of all time, even less than the V6 Dino. The 208 was created with the sole intention of defeating the Italian tax on engines larger than 2.0 liters, and the most economical Ferrari suffered greatly for it. It does not make the list, however, because a) aside from the engine, it’s the same as the merely substandard 308, and b) because it’s a beautiful car. It also underpins the 288 GTO that occupies a space in the Dream Garage.

The Mondial replaced the 308 GT4 as Ferrari’s mid-engined V8 2+2, and it would be the last car Ferrari ever made in such a configuration. The V8 was initially the same as the one found in the GT4, although it was fuel injected in a time when Ferrari didn’t exactly understand the technology [Ed.: the fuel injection system was courtesy of Bosch. H/T to Dizengoff]. Thus it was rated at a positively meager 214hp, down 36 from the GT4 (US models made do with a slightly neutered V8 at 205hp).

So it doesn’t have the biggest engine in the world, but it’s still a Ferrari, so it’s got to go like a bat out of hell, right? Hell, a Lotus Elise has about that much power and makes a run from 0-60mph between 4 and 5 seconds! Well, that has to do with a Lotus’s weight. At roughly 2,000lbs, those are bare bones track stars, whereas the Ferrari Mondial is saddled with 3,200lbs, which meant that a storm from standstill to 60 took between 8-9 seconds.

Styling is another area in which the Mondial fails spectacularly. Big black bumpers surrounding the perimeter of the car are pretty ugly, but I’m willing to let Ferrari slide on that one, as most manufacturers in the 80s had a tough time incorporating the unsightly addons, which were now required in the case of an accident. And since most Ferraris end up in the hands of the wealthy and reckless, chances were you’d end up in one sooner or later. The flying buttresses wrapped in beautiful black plastic, on the other hand, are an inexcusable failed styling exercise. The exterior is rather plain, save for the air vents in front of the rear wheels that previewed the Testarossa and the horizontal slats directly above the headlights, giving the car a look similar to a Neanderthal’s forehead. Aside from being swathed in plastic, the interior isn’t too bad, although a dogleg transmission is a somewhat odd choice.

Ferrari Mondial Rear

So if a Ferrari isn’t beautiful or fast, it couldn’t be too expensive, right? The base price of the Mondial pushed $64,000, compared to a 300hp Porsche 930 Turbo at about $38,000 during the same time period. A separate subframe housed the engine and transmission, meaning service and repairs took less man hours and were thus less expensive compared to other Ferraris, but were still outrageously expensive when compared to normal cars.

What we have here, then, is a Ferrari in price and cost but not in performance or beauty. Later versions of the Mondial would address power gripes, and the car would get upwards of 300hp toward the end of its life. A novel automated clutch transmission would cost more than $5,000 over the standard manual price, and would feature a normal 5-speed manual gearbox but without a third pedal.

A tepid review of a later edition Ferrari Mondial from old Top Gear

The Mondial is one reason why a Ferrari can be found for less than $30,000, and although it is tempting to own a car with a prancing horse for such little scratch, be forewarned: a cheap Ferrari will lure many hopefuls with its siren song, but normal repairs and service costs can easily make the cost of the car skyrocket. I heard in a car magazine once that the most expensive Porsche is a cheap Porsche, and I feel the same is true for a Ferrari. Ferrari cost and the performance of an early ’90s Honda Accord make it a perfect choice for the inaugural edition of Nightmare Garage.

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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

12 responses to “Nightmare Garage: Ferrari Mondial 8”

  1. Dizengoff says :

    Why the hate? The 308 had the same engine and the same buttresses but I don’t see you complaining about that. And because of its longer wheelbase the Mondial actually handles better. It’s an amazingly well built car mechanically speaking, and it’s relatively cheap to work on if you know how to cross-reference parts. Although it doesn’t photograph well it’s actually very striking in person. Maybe if it was a prominent subtext in a crappy 80’s TV show you’d feel differently? Or maybe you just need to take pot shots at a car you’ll never be able to buy.

    Oh, and FYI Bosch designed the fuel injection, not Ferrari.

    • Cameron Rogers says :

      I am not a fan of buttresses in general, but Ferrari saw fit to grace the Mondial’s with a graceless black plastic/rubber that extends to the A pillar. It’s an eyesore and is completely unbefitting of one of the most storied marques in all of automotive history. The car is inexpensive to maintain relative to other Ferraris, but that still makes it far more expensive to maintain than cars from every other manufacturer. Now, that wouldn’t be much of a problem if the Mondial had something else to justify the costs of keeping it running, but with dowdy looks, an uninspiring engine, and a high cost of ownership, the Mondial 8 does absolutely nothing for me. If given the keys, I MIGHT drive one to say I’ve driven a Ferrari, but that’s where my brief infatuation would end. It’s uninspiring, and most people who own them know that it’s a “starter” Ferrari. Buying a Mondial 8 just so one can say he or she has a Ferrari in the garage is pitiful. At $16,500 (http://www.jamesedition.com/cars/ferrari/mondial/for-sale-630088), I am surely able to buy one, but I am not foolish enough to do so.

      The fuel injection was done by Bosch. I have corrected the article accordingly.

  2. Mustafa says :

    How about FF

  3. peterMondial says :

    …. And you drive a Smart.

  4. Sunny Jim says :

    The 8 is a clunker. The Mondial T is a much better car, of course. The car does look decent if understated in person, a bit of a sleeper. In terms of appearance, the hardtop is superior to the convertible.

  5. Antonio Calabro says :

    You sound like a dreamer who knows nothing about Ferraris I own five types of ferraris including the first mondial in Australia and let me assure you it is one fine car Did you know the build quality is better than later ones eg bonnet boot and engine lids are alloy not steel as on later cars and interior door handles beautiful alloy not cheap plastic better looking and useable door pockets speaker cut outs boreable iron cylinder liners not nikisal un boreable as on qv no emission pump or cat converters or piping on exhaust giving the engine a clean appearance and about the body all girls I know love it and beg for a ride its beautiful.it is rare only 703 total ,74 in RHD only the cab is rarer with 629
    Not to mention the late Gilles Villeneuve owned one #Ferrari world 1991 issue 11 page 58 .It handles better than any Ferrari road car produced before it has full electronic warnings and bonnet opening switches that no other Ferrari Lamborghini or Maserati had at the time Mine is a well maintained example and has been all its life They are only a nightmare for people who cannot afford to maintain them I often grand tour the the country side in my mondial 8 with my 3 children and and feel sorry for people who paid more money for a lot less of a car for one thing 0 to 100 time this is the only thing, euro spec is 6.8 best time when many other 80s Ferraris are 5to 6 seconds when it is going it goes. and sounds 20 years newer than it is thank you Ferrari for a Fine Grand tourer to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors .

    • Chris Davies says :

      Well said. Many people do poor research, jump on the bandwagon and unfairly criticize this car. Calling it a starter Ferrari for example. In fact it was more expensive than the 308 when it was released in Australia. Designed by Leonardo Fioravanti, who also designed the 365 GTB/4 amongst other great Ferrari’s, it’s body design keeps getting better with age. I also own a mondial 8 1981 model no regrets here

  6. Antonio Calabro says :

    Where is my post you wannabe

  7. gillo frank says :

    mondial 8 is not a beatufull car im honest! but oh my god the youtube link show a Rare Valeo Mondial T with f1 300 hp engine and 328 grills!! i love the last mondial!

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