One of the first Ferraris that could be driven everyday without the risk of death by inexperienced drivers.
The passing this week of Sergio Pininfarina is certainly sad, so we felt it was only appropriate to look back on one of the more controversial vehicles in whose design he played an active part. The Ferrari Mondial was first displayed at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show. Unlike other Ferraris up until then, the Mondial was the first model to deviate from having the automaker's typical three-digit naming designation, and brought the Maranello-based automaker into a new segment with a mid-engined 2+2 body-style.
It wasn't a radical design by any means and some would even argue that it was too conservative for a true Ferrari. On the other hand, its angular design stands, for better or worse, as an iconic remnant of a time past, served by harder edges than the 308 that was its contemporary. Will the new FF and F12berlinetta age the same way 20 years down the line? We'll have to wait until then for the final verdict. The Mondial was produced in fairly large numbers for a Ferrari. A total of 6,884 were built during its life cycle, which began in 1980, and it went on to become one of Ferrari's best-sellers.
This was also partly due to its 2+2 seating arrangement, allowing for owners to actually bring their friends along for a drive. First powered by a mid-mounted 3.0-liter V8, it produced just 214 horsepower, but Ferrari never really intended the Mondial to act as its performance flagship. Like the modern California, it was meant more as a boulevard cruiser. What was interesting was how easily regular maintenance could be performed because of the simpler engine and transmission subframe design.
This helped give the Mondial the deserved reputation of being one of Ferrari's most usable cars. Remember, this was a time when brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati didn't really focus on building solid daily drivers; their cars were difficult to drive and handle and were best used by more experienced drivers. The Mondial was different in that sense, and the market responded. By 1982 a more powerful version, called the Mondial QV, was launched and it featured a four-valve head instead of the original's two-valve design. This resulted in a solid power increase to 240 horsepower.
The Cabriolet body style came the following year and the car's popularity increased further. Not only did it sell well in Europe, but wealthy American buyers were drawn to it as well. 1985 saw the introduction of the 3.2 Mondial. Ferrari increased the engine's bore and stroke to 3.2 liters, and with it, output to 280 hp. Styling was also freshened for both the coupe and Cabrio and by 1987 ABS brakes even added. Its final refresh was in 1989 with the Mondial t. The "t" designation stood for the engine and transmission layout, which was now mounted on a removable subframe.
This concept was taken from Ferrari's F1 cars at the time which greatly added the Mondial's sophistication. Production ultimately ceased in 1993 after a whopping 13-year production lifecycle. But the Mondial helped pave the way for more user-friendly Ferraris such as the aforementioned California. The owner of this 1984 Mondial Cabrio has kept his car in decent shape. Because it was a relatively reliable daily driver, it's nice to see that this one has held up pretty well... considering it's 28 years old.
Have there been more spectacular and eye-catching Ferraris over the years? No question, but the Mondial was clear proof that if one had the means, they could enjoy driving an Italian exotic every day.