Ferrari Mondial 8 (1981)

Ferrari Mondial 8
Rev up this misunderstood sports car

There are a couple of good reasons to own and drive a Ferrari Mondial. One of them is to prove everybody else is wrong, and you are right. The Mondial is more a true Ferrari than most people think. Besides wearing the prancing horse logo with pride it is the well-thought-out concept of a usable 2+2 sports car which is powered by a happy revving V8 in the back. The outside of the box mentality of Italian design and Ferrari’s craftsmanship is demonstrated perfectly with the Ferrari Mondial 8 we offer for sale here.

Even when Italian designers keep an eye on their heritage while they draw new stuff, they are willing (and allowed) to take their designs to a next level. In case of the Mondial there’s much to say about the way it was designed by its creator, Leonardo Fioravanti. You know, the guy who’s responsible for the F40. Where Marcello Gandini finally got the attention and credits for his designs at Bertone in the last two decades, car designer Leonardo Fioravanti still lacks recognition by the main public for his creations at Pininfarina. After the Daytona he draw cars like the Mondial for Ferrari. His legendary Testarossa, 308 GTB, 288 GTO and F40 are always described as being designed by his employer.

While the Mondial’s predecessor, the 308 GT4, got away as cheapest Ferrari in the last decade, when its prizes went upwards, the Mondial still seems to be underrated. But for how long? People start to see it aged well. The complete package is right. And it drives even better than most people think. As long as you don’t get the slow US version of the Mondial 8. This fine example of the faster Mondial 8 EU-version offers nearly the same look and feel as its fellow Ferraris of the 80’s. The 2+2 shows a glimpse of the Testarossa, 308 GTB and even the 288 GTO. You can see they’re all family. Air intake scoops, wheel design, quad exhaust and dual round tail lights, it’s all Ferrari. Which makes sense because of Fioravanti’s styling on all of them. The chassis itself was developed as a supercar. It’s beyond any regular sports car. And even the Bosch fuel injected V8 engines and drivetrains were true Ferrari masterpieces which were used in the 308 and 328 GTB. They are well known for their reliability. This mix makes the Mondial great, because it is a perfect showcase of Italian car making.

On Ferrari’s timeline the Mondial’s role is quite important, because in the form of Mondial T the practical Ferrari paved way for the Ferrari 348, which resulted in the arrival of the F355, 360 Modena and so on. Compared to these later Ferraris, the Mondial 8 is easier to maintain and therefore much cheaper to run. As a every day classic sports car, or someone’s first Ferrari, it ticks all the boxes. It even has air conditioning to make travelling a real treat in any given climate. For a long time the Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino and Ferrari Mondial were only seen by true drivers and connoisseurs-on-a-budget, who could appreciate the mix of reliability, speed, great handling, comfort and unique styling. And yes, that it were the cheapest Ferraris to run helped too to convince them.

On the other hand many other Ferrari owners didn’t like these cars, just like Porsche 911 owners never really appreciated the Porsche 944 and 928, despite being good sports cars. Times change and cars of the late 70 till early 90’s finally get the credits they deserve. Events like Rad Wood, awesome roadtrips (without hazzle) and Instagram-worthy photos is what the generation that grew up during that era wants nowadays. The Ferrari Mondial fits in well. You can take it anywhere, anytime. Luggage can be put behind the engine in a compartment that makes period hot hatch owners look jealous. As practical and exotic as it is, the Mondial 8 is set up as a thoroughbred, not a garage queen. Especially when it’s in a very good shape like our example here you’ll need to to get out and stretch its legs.

While most of the Mondial buyers choose Ferrari red, it are the rarer shades that stand out today, like our Azzuro blue metallic example here. The interior, with its deep beige Connolly leather and blue carpets, was among the best built car interiors of its time. The headlining in the early Mondials are very attractive and other details as well. It feels like a coachbuilder took care of it during production. For instance, the super handy adjustable map light in the glove box, and the lid itself that works as a small desktop were standard equipment, but feel custom made. A Porsche 911 didn’t even have a glovebox. Thanks to FIAT’s involvement in the Maranello company build quality improved at the end of the 70’s and this helped to set a new factory standard with the Mondial that could compete against the Germans. There’s no visible wear today, which proves they got it right the first time. The Mondial was further developed during the years and with a limited production run of only 703 Mondial 8’s between 1980 and 1982, you won’t see these early examples a lot.

Mixed reviews and criticisms when it was new didn’t do the Mondial any good, but they still got sold. Some period articles claimed sprint times of above 9 seconds and poor build quality (just because the author had killed the gearbox lever). But when you drive the car today it feels so much quicker than that. If you push the car to the fullest, and let the 4-cam V8 rev all the way up to 7700 rpm there’s no doubt that it goes well under 8 seconds to 100kmh/60mph. Impressive is the way how the Mondial 8 accelerates from, let’s say, 30-130mph. The low frontal area helps a lot at higher speeds to keep it going faster and faster. It’s bloody fast when you accelerate from one corner to another.

It seems like some car journalists already shifted long before the 3 litre V8 got out of breath, or they had the slower 180hp US Version. Don’t let you be fooled by them. The Ferrari Mondial 8 in EU-trim needs to be credited for its flexibility to drive both economic at low revs and low speeds, as much as you can drive it spirited to test all your capabilities as a good driver. A limited slip differential came standard. An experienced driver can make the Mondial handle like a true sports car in any corner, because it’s well balanced and it offers tons of grip and traction for a car of this era. Advanced drivers can steer the car with the throttle and it challenges them to push harder. It’s very rewarding to search the Mondial’s limits.

Less experienced drivers will feel confident as well, because in their hands the long wheelbase makes this Ferrari a bit understeered when pushed too hard. There’s no extreme oversteer reaction when someone lifts off in a corner, compared to other mid-engined sports cars. This combination of everyday usability, power and an involving sports car feeling makes it comparable to a Porsche 944 S2, but with more emotion. And with an excotic engine that likes to rev all day long, as much as it likes to cruise. At low revs, you won’t hear the engine inside the cabin. It’s very quiet then. Outside it’s different, then even at idle the noises come unfiltered to you through the open scoops. Both inside and out the beautiful tunes of a true Ferrari V8 will excite many when being revved.

Shifting the dog-leg gearbox, with typically Ferrari gated shifter, is a pure joy. But first you’ll need to heat up the engine and gearbox. The gearbox is lubricated by a an oil system that gets warmer during driving, which smoothens the way you can shift up and down. Heel & toe and rev-matching is easy, despite your feet being offset in the Mondial’s driver position. After adjusting the steering wheel both vertical and longitudinal, drivers will feel very comfortable in a Mondial. Its cab forward design and large windows makes it perfect to see around. Although there’s a lot of class, the A/C has no problem to cool the temperatures down on a hot day.

This early Mondial was delivered new to France and comes with a full service history back to 1994 and is well maintained throughout. Each owner took good care of the car. In 2017 it got its latest cam belt change together with all new fluids and the K-Jetronic was revised as well. In the same year this example was part of the 70th birthday exhibition of Ferrari at Autoworld Brussels and because the car is getting more and more accepted now, classic car and youngtimer shows is where it wants to shine in all its glory. We’re looking for a new caretaker who shall enjoy exploring the joyful secrets of this misunderstood Ferrari Mondial 8.


All original first series Ferrari Mondial
Outstanding colour combination
Happy revving fuel injected Ferrari 3 litre V8
214 hp @ 6600 rpm, 243 Nm @ 4600 rpm
Air conditioning
Serviced throughout, incl. cam belt change and K-jetronic
All electronics are fully functional
New seat belts