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
‘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.
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).
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.