With a name harkening back to the beautiful and successful 500 Mondial
racer of the 1950’s, the Ferrari Mondial 8 seemed to promise big things when it was first introduced in 1980. The first model in a 13-year run of various Mondials, the Mondial 8 was produced for only two model years, and unfortunately, failed to live up to the hype.
Several prominent automotive journalists of the time gave the Mondial 8 a cool reception due to its mild nature. Reviewers consistently harped on the car for both its lacklustre performance and underwhelming looks. And, fair or not, those first few reviews of a car tend to attach themselves to vehicles for the rest of their life. In many people’s minds, the Mondial will forever be the car unworthy of the lustrous Ferrari name. Perhaps this was an indication of just how spoiled Ferrari customers had become, because the Mondial 8’s true legacy should be that of a well-balanced, easy-to-drive 2+2. And indeed, even in the otherwise unfavourable reviews, the car managed to receive near-universal praise for its poised handling. This trait, combined with its relatively low entry price, contributed to brisk sales.
Debuting for the 1980 model year, the Mondial 8 was the first in a line of Mondials that served as the replacement for the 208 GT4 and 308 GT4 2+2 coupes. Even though it produced an impressive 71 bhp per litre, the 214 bhp produced by the rear-mounted 3.0-litre V8 struggled to propel the Mondial 8 with much urgency. A rather ponderous kerb weight of 1569 kg might be partially to blame for the unexpectedly slow acceleration. A 0 to 62 mph time comparable to a Datsun 280zx of the same era surely caused many buyers to pause before shelling out many times the price of the Japanese car.
In recent years, the Mondial 8 has gained a reputation as a great beginner’s Ferrari, with a low cost of entry and low-cost, low-hassle maintenance schedule compared to most other models. Even though some of the later Mondial versions received more praise than the 8, there is still much to love about this sweet little coupe.
The Mondial 8 – Andy’s thoughts
The Mondial 8 was launched at a time when the car industry was going through a huge amount of change. The oil crisis of the 70s meant that larger engines were disliked, especially in Europe. New regulations on car design and safety were dictating how cars should look, and as a result the beautiful Ferraris of the 50s and 60s were no more. And to top things off, Ferrari were in financial problems so R&D spend was limited.
The car represents an important point in the history of Ferrari. It may not have been perfect from the outset but it was the start of four iterations of the Mondial. The car may not deliver the perfect performance, but no one can deny that it is 100% a Ferrari.
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