Buy­ing Guide – the cheap­est Fer­rari won’t be cheap for long

Prices are fi­nally on the rise for Fer­rari’s long un­der­rated 2+2. Here’s how to buy the best ones be­fore val­ues soar

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - BUYING & SELLING - WORDS Chris Ran­dall PHOTOGRAPHY Magic Car Pics

‘Any foibles are quickly for­given when you hear that V8 at full chat’

The Mondial is where the smart money in the world of cut-price su­per­cars is go­ing at the mo­ment. Prices are up 13.5 per cent year-on-year on the back of a wider mar­ket surge for 1980s per­for­mance cars and there’s no sign of val­ues slump­ing.

This Pin­in­fa­rina-penned suc­ces­sor to the Ber­ton­estyled 308 GT4 ar­rived in 1980 and was the com­pany’s last mid-en­gined 2+2. It had mono­coque con­struc­tion rather than a tubu­lar chas­sis and used plenty of parts from the 308, one of which – the 3.0-litre V8 en­gine – earned it a rather luke­warm re­cep­tion from the mo­tor­ing press. The Mondial 8’s en­gine mus­tered just 214bhp and while it sounded the part, out­right pace was un­der­whelm­ing. Fer­rari later fit­ted it with four­valve heads, en­dow­ing the re­sul­tant Qu­at­trovalv­ole model with 240bhp. A cabri­o­let ver­sion ar­rived in 1983 and a ma­jor re­vi­sion in­tro­duced a 270bhp, 3.2-litre en­gine two years later. By 1989, the Mondial’s was pack­ing a 3.4-litre unit push­ing out closer to 300bhp, which would be the last ma­jor change be­fore pro­duc­tion ended in 1993 after more than 6000 ex­am­ples had been built. The driv­ing po­si­tion is a bit awk­ward but any foibles are quickly for­given when you hear that V8 at full chat while the click-clack of the open-gated gear lever is an evoca­tive de­light in the mod­ern world of dual clutches and steer­ing wheel pad­dles. With meaty con­trols that prop­erly en­gage the driver in the busi­ness of go­ing quickly, this is a su­per­car from the old school and it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence the driver can en­joy from a leather-lined cabin that could only be of Ital­ian de­sign. With val­ues ris­ing steadily, this is def­i­nitely the time to con­sider this most un­der­rated of Fer­raris.

BE DI­RECT

The man­ual steer­ing on early cars is con­spic­u­ously heavy at park­ing speeds but power as­sis­tance ar­rived with the 3.4-litre mod­els and needs check­ing for fluid leak­age and noisy pumps. No­to­ri­ously weak hand­brake aside, brake-re­lated prob­lems are rel­a­tively rare on reg­u­larly-used cars, which is just as well, given that a com­plete over­haul brings with it a four-fig­ure bill. The sus­pen­sion, on the other hand, should be ex­am­ined for worn wish­bone bushes and corrosion around the mount­ing points. Check the al­loy wheels for corrosion and bear in mind that the TRX met­ric tyres fit­ted to early cars are get­ting hard to find and cost £300-400. Some own­ers fit wheels and tyres from the later Fer­rari 348 – £1200 for a set of four, closer to £2000 with tyres. It’s a sound so­lu­tion, but ob­vi­ously com­pro­mises orig­i­nal­ity.

HOW’S IT LOOK­ING?

Thor­oughly ex­am­ine the body­work for signs of ac­ci­dent dam­age. Poor re­pairs can in­cu­bate corrosion and some pan­els are now hard to find; look for bub­bling around the sills, wheel arches, and door bot­toms. The front wings, wind­screen sur­rounds and the joint be­tween the rear but­tresses and the roof are also sus­cep­ti­ble to rot. A new rear wing will set you back by around £1500.

THE IN­SIDE STORY

Cor­roded con­tacts can af­fect the cen­tre con­sole switches, while melt­ing cir­cuit board lay­ers within the fusebox can re­sult in a £1000 re­pair bill. Slow elec­tric win­dows are com­mon but re-wiring should only be en­trusted to a trained auto elec­tri­cian. Check also for a failed sun­roof mech­a­nism (a new mo­tor is £600) and air­con (replacing the com­pres­sor costs around £660).

LOOK BE­NEATH

The chas­sis was gal­vanised shortly after launch, but even the last mod­els are still more than 20 years old, so get­ting a spe­cial­ist to check for rot is wise. It’s also the best way of spot­ting ev­i­dence of pre­vi­ous re­pairs or any signs of ac­ci­dent dam­age-re­lated dis­tor­tion. Un­even tyre wear could point to sus­pen­sion prob­lems or a chas­sis that’s out of kil­ter – in which case you to should walk away.

HAS IT BEEN LOOKED AFTER?

Patchy ser­vice his­tory, oil leaks and blue ex­haust smoke should ring alarm bells, and white emul­sion un­der the oil filler cap sug­gests a failed cylin­der head gas­ket. Check the front ra­di­a­tors and the header tank, which is prone to leaks. Cam belts should be changed ev­ery 30,000 miles. It’s a £500 job on 3.0/3.2 en­gines, but it’s an en­gine-out job on the 3.4, and can cost up to £1500.

Mondial’s driv­ing po­si­tion is flawed, but open gear­lever gate is a vis­ual and tac­tile joy.

En­gine bay isn’t a vis­ual treat, but never mind that. The V8 sounds fan­tas­tic and is solid if looked after.

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